Universal Human Rights Declaration
There are two very basic human rights that are often overlooked. These very basic rights have far-reaching implications affecting the way we look at reality.
THE RIGHT TO LIVE
This right has historically been completely disregarded when those who wield hereditary power have decided to wage war. The military solution to economic, political or ideological conflicts is very rarely justified.
Warmongering is an infringement of humanity’s right to live by its highest ideals. All those involved in war activities - which includes the development and manufacture of death-dealing devices - must be regarded as potential killers.
Their thought-patterns and behavior can be classified as pathological. I would extend this classification to those engaged in commercial and industrial activities that have deleterious long-term effects on the environment - because the right to live implies the right to a healthy natural environment.
The Death Penalty is a vestige of moral barbarism and I urge that it be abolished throughout the world.
THE RIGHT TO DIE
Now let’s look at another basic human right: the right to die. All forms of drug addiction may be regarded as subtle ways to commit suicide. And although we do what we can to discourage people from terminating their lives prematurely, the final prerogative belongs to the individual.
We must respect the right of others to die, if they no longer wish to live. Therefore, I propose that all forms of drug addiction be decriminalized, and that drug addicts be regarded as potential suicides - and since the suicidal tendency is essentially a pathological condition, treatment or therapy must be freely provided to those who seek it.
I would like to see Malaysia’s mandatory death penalty for drug offences abolished. Stringent drug laws only serve to make the illicit drug trade more lucrative for criminal syndicates. Supply will drop dramatically – and, most likely, so will the demand - when addictive substances are available over the counter at regulated prices with the same quality controls as other consumer products.
Drug addiction may not disappear completely, but decriminalizing it will definitely relocate the problem where it belongs - in the medical, sociological and psycho-spiritual context.
[Drafted in December 1990 as a paper to be read out at a Human Rights Day event organized by the Universiti Malaya Law Faculty. Unfortunately, the organizing committee decided to drop me from the list of invited speakers at the last minute, after consulting with their lecturers. First posted 17 March 2010]