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What a shame – ignominous setback instead of historic 50th Merdeka breakthrough!
(Parliament, Saturday): What a shame indeed! It should have been a major breakthrough for Malaysia giving special meaning to the 50th Merdeka anniversary but it has turned out to be an ignominous setback.
It would have been the first occasions all religions in Malaysia coming together in recent times to unite on common ground and speak on the human rights to water.
Even more significant, this one-day event entitled “United for Water: Religions Speak on the Rights to Water” is to be held at the Conference Centre of the National Mosque, Kuala Lumpur today, to be attended by some 200 people representing NGOs, civil society, religious groups and residents’ associations.
This program to bring together various religions in Malaysia to deliberate religious views on the human rights to water, with specific reference to the United Nations’ General Comment No. 15, seeks also to raise awareness among Malaysians to conserve water and respect and protect the human rights to water as a key responsibility.
But it was not to be. Although the National Mosque authorities were ever-ready to make available their Conference Centre for the path-breaking event, the police had scuttled the programme on the ground that there could be a protest demonstration.
The programme has the support from all religious groups as evident from the list of the participating organizations which include:
Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (ABIM)
Archdiocesan Office for Human Development (AOHD)
Buddhist Missionary Society of Malaysia (BMSM)
Council of Churches of Malaysia (CCM)
Malaysia Hindu Sangam (MHS)
Malaysian Gurdwara Council (MGC)
Centre for Orang Asli Concerns (COAC)
Group of Concerned Citizens (GCC)
Monitoring Sustainability of Globalisation (MSG)
Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC)
The organizers had been working for a month to make a success of this path-blazing inter-faith programme on the human rights to water.
On Tuesday, representatives from the organizing committee paid a courtesy call to the National Mosque to thank the mosque officials for allowing their venue to be used for the event. The mosque officials said they looked forward to the use of mosque conference centre for such functions.
On Wednesday, however, National Mosque officials were told by the police that it had received information that there could be protest or demonstration which was complete news to the participating organizations, including ABIM.
On Thursday, representatives of the organizing committee who met with the Special Branch of Dang Wangi Police district to ask for a police permit were told that there would be no problem of approval.
Yesterday morning, the police changed its mind because of rumours that there could be a protest or demonstration if the event is held at the National Mosque.
The “United for Water: Religions Speak on the Rights to Water” event has been moved to the NUBE House, Brickfields (next to Petronas) today.
If the Police are capable of seeing the big national picture, it should have ensured that the programme at the National Mosque conference centre is held successfully.
Instead, the Police have allowed irresponsible and mischievous elements to scuttle the programme at the National Mosque.
Is the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who is also the Internal Security Minister, aware of what is happening under his watch?
It would appear that even water has become a national security problem!
Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic
Planning Commission Chairman