Opposition leaders accuse Malaysia's government of failing human rights

Opposition leaders accused Malaysia's government Thursday of failing to safeguard human rights, saying the case of a Chinese woman who was forced to strip and perform squats in police custody was merely one example of rampant violations. The Democratic Action Party, which went public last month with a secretly shot video of the Chinese woman's experience, claimed there were "many silent victims" who have suffered abuse by authorities in police lockups, detention centers and prisons.

"This is just the tip of the iceberg," DAP Secretary General Lim Guan Eng told reporters. "For every case that is highlighted, we believe 10 to 20 more remain unreported. We regret the failure of the Malaysian government to check such abuses."

Lim, speaking after discussions with Malaysia's government-backed Human Rights Commission, said officials must show more commitment in probing rights complaints and punishing offenders.

Authorities have been trying to soothe a public outcry caused by a video, surreptitiously shot using a camera phone by an unidentified person and sent anonymously to a DAP lawmaker, showing a naked Chinese woman performing squats in the presence of a policewoman. The video bolstered claims by rights activists that police routinely mistreat detainees. It was unclear whether the woman was a Chinese national or a Malaysian ethnic Chinese, but Beijing has formally protested and urged action over the alleged mistreatment. Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has created a panel to investigate the incident, reports the AP. I.L.

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