Thursday, April 24, 2014

Is Obama's Malaysian trip hypocritical?

This weekend, while on his Asian tour, Obama will become the first President since Johnson 50 years ago to visit Malaysia. There's a reason no President has gone to Malaysia in 50 years, and that's not because of the weather, which, I am told, is beautiful this time of year.

The reason no President has gone is because the Malaysian government does not support personal liberties, nor religious freedom.  They didn't go there because it would be hypocritical to support personal liberties and yet visit and bring credibility to a nation whose government does not.

The Malaysian government has more than a few offenses to personal liberties, and here I will name just a few of them.

  1. Denial of legal status of some religions groups
  2. Restrictions on proselytizing.  Cannot evangelize that you should look into other religions unless converting to Muslim
  3. No public discussion for religious freedom.  It is forbidden.
  4. Marriages not between Muslim and non Muslim are not recognized. 
  5. Children of non Muslims considered bastards.  
  6. Non Muslim kids cannot get religious education. It is compulsory if you are a Muslim.  
  7. Bibles have been seized in parts of country
Despite this, Obama, through his press secretary, said the following:
"Malaysia is an emerging partner of the United States just like it's been an emerging economy. It's an important visit for president, one that can elevate U.S. Malaysian relations."
The problem with this is: why would you want to elevate a nation that does not support the same personal liberties that you say you do?  This sounds hypocritical to me.

Basically, what he's saying is, "I support personal liberties, and I want you to support personal liberties, but in this case, because it's me, it's okay that I support this one nation that doesn't."

---------------Update 4/29/14
During a press conference with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, Obama was asked why he hadn't said anything about Malaysian human rights yet during his trip.  Obama answered:
I think the prime minister is the first to acknowledge that, uh, Malaysia's still got some work to do -- uh, just like the United States, by the way, has some work to do -- on these issues. Uh, Human Rights Watch probably has a list of things they think we should be doing as a government.
So he says he didn't mention it because, when it comes to human rights, we have nothing to brag about at home.  Really?  Where are their human rights issues in the U.S. anywhere comparable to what is going on in Malaysia?