MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku


Monday, April 28, 2014

Utusan ignores Obama’s statement on equal opportunity for non-Muslims

President Barack Obama had said at a townhall meeting yesterday that Malaysia must give equal opportunities to non-Muslims to continue prospering. – Reuters pic, April 28, 2014.President Barack Obama had said at a townhall meeting yesterday that Malaysia must give equal opportunities to non-Muslims to continue prospering. – Reuters pic, April 28, 2014.A controversial statement made by US President Barack Obama yesterday that Malaysia must ensure non-Muslims in the country also have equal opportunities as its Muslim majority if the country wanted to continue prospering was conspicuously left out from the coverage of the president's visit in Umno mouthpiece, Utusan Malaysia, today.
Instead, the Malay-language daily higlighted the president's comments on the dangers of sidelining the Muslim minority in Myanmar. However, there is no mention that the US leader had also expressed the same concern over the fate of the non-Muslim communities in Malaysia.
Utusan Malaysia, which ran an article in its foreign news section titled "Obama beri amaran Myanmar menuju keburukan" (Obama warns Myanmar heading for bad times), reported the president as saying that Myanmar's democratisation process was in danger, and that there was bound to be conflict when people organised themselves along ethnic and religious lines.
It further quoted Obama, who attended a town hall meeting with Asean youths yesterday, as saying that Myanmar would not succeed if the Muslims in the country were oppressed.
The US president was also quoted as saying that in the Myanmar crisis, the fate and rights of the Muslim minority was not protected.
Meanwhile, in its local pages, a report titled "Malaysia contoh pendukung hak asasi" (Malaysia an example of a human rights champion) quoted Obama as saying at the town hall meeting that no country can succeed if a group of its people was sidelined or discriminated against.
The piece also carried a remark attributed to Obama which was translated into Malay as: "Malaysia juga merupakan contoh terbaik apabila mereka (negara ini) mendukung hak sivik dan hak asasi manusia dan politik kepada setiap rakyatnya."
(Malaysia too is a good example when it champions the civil, human and political rights of each of its citizens).
However, a full transcript of Obama's speech carried in the official White House website read as follows: "Now, one of the things that makes this region so interesting is its diversity. That diversity creates a unique intersection of humanity – people from so many ethnic groups and backgrounds and religious and political beliefs. It gives Malaysia, as one primary example, the chance to prove – as America constantly tries to prove – that nations are stronger and more successful when they work to uphold the civil rights and political rights and human rights of all their citizens."
Obama's remarks on the need to give non-Muslims equal opportunities were also downplayed by the other mainstream newspapers today.
Media Prima Group's Malay daily Berita Harian cited Obama briefly as saying that Malaysia would not succeed if non-Muslims were not given opportunities in this country.
The group's English daily, New Straits Times, did not mention the remark but focused on Obama's answers on the legacy he wanted to leave behind, on Malaysia's journey to be a fully developed country in 2020 and on what happiness meant to him.
The paper's online version carried last night the full transcript of Obama's remarks at the town hall session.
The Star cited Obama as saying that the rights of the minorities including in countries such as Myanmar and Malaysia should be protected but did not highlight the issue.
"Malaysia is a majority Muslim country. There are times where those who are non-Muslims find themselves perhaps being disadvantaged or experiencing hostility. No country is going to succeed if part of its population is put on the sidelines or discriminated against. Treat people the way you want to be treated," a report in the daily quoted the US president as saying.
Chinese-daily Sin Chew Jit Poh, however, prominently displayed Obama's remarks on its front page with the headline: "Non-Muslims should be given opportunity if Malaysia is to succeed".
Similarly, Oriental Daily News also carried the report on page eight.
Obama, was on a three-day state visit to Malaysia, 48 years after the last American president, Lyndon B.Johnson paid a visit here in 1966.
He left for Manila earlier today, the final destination of his Asian tour that started with Japan and South Korea.

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