President Barack Obama said Sunday that he had raised the need for improved human rights in Malaysia with the country's prime minister, but pushed back against suggestions that his failure to meet with a top opposition leader means he is not concerned.From Caleb Howe, The Right Scoop:
Human rights groups have been urging Obama to meet with opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim while Obama is in the country as part of his Asia tour. Instead, Obama is sending national security adviser Susan Rice to meet Anwar on Monday.
Obama cited freedom of the press, human rights and civil liberties as issues that he said are always on the agenda when he travels the world. He downplayed the fact that a meeting with Anwar wasn't on his itinerary.
"The fact that I haven't met Mr. Anwar in and of itself is not indicative of our lack of concern, given the fact that there are a lot of people I don't meet with and opposition leaders that I don't meet with," he said at a joint news conference with Prime Minister Najib Razak after the two met privately. "That doesn't mean I'm not concerned about them."
...Obama said Najib has made progress on human rights in his country and would be the first to acknowledge having more work to do to improve the climate. Obama said he shared with Najib his own view that countries will be better off in the long run if they respect the rule of law and basic freedoms — "even when it drives you crazy, even when it's inconvenient."
The United States still has work to do on these issues, too, Obama added.
At a joint press conference in Malaysia today, Major Garrett asked President Obama about human rights concerns in Malaysia, saying the issues were “up for grabs” in the country. He asked the President why he hadn’t discussed human rights while in Malaysia, and why he hadn’t met with jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim.So according to Obama, the U.S. is similar to Malaysia when it comes to human rights abuses?
...“I think the Prime Minister is the first to acknowledge that Malaysia’s still got some work to do, just like the United States, by the way, has some work to do on these issues. Human Rights Watch probably has a list of things they think we should be doing as a government,” said the President.