Najib said. “We are a modern, progressive Muslim majority nation, a multiethnic, multi-religious society.”
But .. were pressed to explain how they reconciled Malaysia’s rapid modernization with the repression of political dissent and freedom of expression. Activists complain that Najib’s government has used the nation’s anti-sodomy and sedition laws to sideline its political opponents.
“There’s a recognition by the Malaysian government that more work needs to be done,” Obama told reporters, adding he shared with Najib that democratic protections such as “the respect for freedom of assembly, the respect for people of different races and different faiths and different political philosophies — that those values are at the core of who the U.S. is, but also I think are a pretty good gauge of whether a society is going to be successful in the 21st century or not.”
..Ambiga Sreenevasan, an electoral reform advocate, wrote in an e-mail that the ruling government has used “divisive politics” to stay in power.
“The attacks against the Chinese, the Christian community (in the Allah issue), the constant racist attacks against the minority communities is rising by the day,” she wrote.
In a separate event Sunday, during a town hall with young leaders from 10 ASEAN countries, Obama spoke more explicitly about discrimination against minorities as he replied to an online question from a Burmese youth. The president noted that some Muslims in Burma have experienced discrimination, and added, “Then there are times in Malaysia where people who are not Muslims find themselves perhaps being disadvantaged.”
source: Washington Post