Ex-EU envoy's accusations refuted

15 November, 2007
SINGAPORE: The government has rubbished accusations by a former European Union envoy that the crackdown on demonstrators last Saturday showed that Malaysia was under emergency rule. Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said Thierry Rommel’s comments in an interview on Tuesday were “out of line, baseless and conflicted with the real situation in the country”.

“He is an ambassador to our country and his comments are reflective of the country or body he represents. What he has done runs contrary to his position as envoy,” Najib said.
Rommel had said that the crackdown on demonstrators asking for “clean” elections had proven his point and that a part of the population was feeling that their voice was not being heard because of the way elections were managed.
The former envoy, chastised recently for criticising Malaysia’s affirmative action policies to help Malays, also came out with a similar line in the interview.
He had also said that affirmative action towards the Malays distorted trade ties with others.
Najib refuted the claims, pointing out that Rommel had either over-simplified the situation in Malaysia or had got his facts wrong.
“Firstly, the police were enforcing the law on the day of the demonstration. They used water cannon and tear gas only after their repeated warnings to the crowd to disperse were ignored. It was their last option and they have been very tolerant in the past with opposition ceramah that did not have permits.
“Secondly, if the elections in this country were rigged, then the opposition would not win any seats at all. Kelantan, for instance, is still under an opposition government and they won a seat with only a two-vote majority.
“When the votes are counted during the polls, an opposition member is allowed to be there during counting. The Election Commission is also an independent body.”
These electoral measures, Najib said, were proof that elections were transparent in Malaysia.
On criticism of the affirmative action policy, Najib said each country had the right to come up with measures to correct economic disparities.
“It’s a national agenda to right a problem that was created 400 hundred years ago (due to colonisation). It does not mean that we discriminate against non-Malays.”