Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Zaid Ibrahim on Human Rights

"There are many who see the promotion of human rights as a threat to order and security and inconsistent with stability and public order. Others see it as detracting from more pressing economic issues which, they argue, should take precedence. Some have argued that because we have different cultural values, the concept needs to be modified and that it is necessary for us to be very selective of the kind of human rights we can have. But let us be clear.

Human rights do not challenge social stability and development. On the contrary, [human rights] promote these ideals by recognising the value and importance of each and every individual in society. What human rights do challenge, by definition, is authoritarianism."

Zaid Ibrahim and Tok Guru Nik Aziz exchange books as Anwar Ibrahim looks on with pleasure.

"Human rights are not and have never been a luxury wish list; they are not about promoting the rights of the individual without regard to the rights of the community. They are not about promoting selfish individualism as some would have us believe. They are about treating people with respect, with due regard to the due process of the law. If we have no capacity to respect the dignity and the rights of one individual, then be assured that we will also have no capacity to respect the dignity and the rights of many."

~ Zaid Ibrahim (keynote speech delivered on International Human Rights Day, 11 December 2008)

Zaid in animated conversation with human rights advocate Tian Chua.