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56 Regional and International NGO today rallied behind (Suaram)

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By Lisa J. Ariffin

KUALA LUMPUR ― A group of 56 regional and international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) today rallied behind human rights watchdog Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) and demanded the Malaysian government stop harassing the group over its funding sources.

In a joint statement today, the groups reminded Putrajaya that it has also received foreign development aid in the past, adding that the government’s insinuation that Suaram has a hidden political agenda was made in “bad faith” and “irresponsible”.

“We strongly condemn the Malaysian government’s attempts to discredit those who receive foreign funds for their human rights work, including insinuations made in the media that foreign-funded organisations, including Suaram, may have hidden political agendas.

“We emphasise that foreign funding is indeed necessary for many NGOs, not only in Malaysia, but across the globe,” the statement said.

The groups, which include NGOs from Nepal, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Cambodia, Pakistan, Philippines, Australia and even China and South Korea, sang Suaram’s praises and said the Malaysian-based organisation was widely recognised both regionally and internationally, as well as a credible voice for the protection of human rights here.

Suaram is currently in the limelight due to its part in an ongoing French inquiry probing possible corruption in Malaysia’s multibillion ringgit purchase of two Scorpene submarines, which has been linked to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and the murder of Mongolian model Altantuyaa Shaariibuu. – TMI