A truly good and caring government will definitely focus on how to ease the economic hardship of the poor and downtrodden during these difficult times, says Henry Loh.
Dear Friends and Members
Greetings and best wishes.
We at Aliran would like to extend compliments of the season to Christians and all who celebrate Christmas, and best wishes for the new year to all of you.
Indeed the year is very quickly drawing to a close and as we look back and reflect on the year that was, I am sure that for many of us, there is much that we should be thankful for.
Yet, if we cast a critical eye on some of the political, socio-economic and ethno-religious events and happenings in our country, clearly there is much room for improvement.
Good governance, gender awareness, religious sensitivity and economic imbalance are some of the issues that require greater attention and have to be tackled by all parties concerned, in particular the powers that be. Often it is these leaders who have the influence and wherewithal to shape the discourse on these important matters that have an impact on all Malaysians.
The burning question is, to what extent are our leaders genuine, sincere and statesmen enough to genuinely work for the betterment of the well-being of all Malaysians?
Looking back, the general election in May 2013 was the major political event of the year – and what a closely fought contest it turned out to be. Much has been written about how the Barisan Nasional coalition won a simple majority of seats in Parliament and was therefore entitled to from the government but yet lost to the Opposition in terms of popular votes.
In general, one could safely argue that the Pakatan Rakyat Coalition in spite of their loud cries of electoral “foul play and cheating” have settled into their role as members of the Opposition at the federal government level. Civil society, for its part, especially through Bersih have done their best to highlight electoral discrepancies and offered proof of cheating through the People’s Tribunal.
All said and done, the government of the day is expected to govern effectively and judiciously for the well-being of all Malaysians. The Opposition has the role of keeping the government in check ensuring that there is no abuse of power, privilege or position. Both sides of the political divide have the Federal Constitution at their disposal to serve as a governance compass.
Well, it’s Christmas and I’ve just stated the ideal manner in which the government is expected to govern. That remains as wishful thinking on my part because judging from some of the developments that have taken place since the formation of the new government their performance to date really leaves much to be desired in terms of good governance.
We have recorded our strong objection to the Prevention of Crime Act amendment as it effectively allows for detention without trial. Here we are worried that this law may be misused and abused as the “ghosts” of the draconian Internal Security Act – although repealed – continue to haunt many of us.
The indefinite suspension of the weekly newspaper “the Heat” has triggered alarm bells all round as it came about soon after the 22-29 November issue of the weekly highlighted the alleged spendthrift habits of Prime Minister Najib Razak and his wife Rosmah Mansor.
Aliran strongly condemned this affront on freedom of expression. Although the PM has made pronouncements supporting media freedom, this latest episode obviously goes against that grain and it has prompted the South-east Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) to comment that the Malaysian government can’t stand (the) free media.
Recently, the Federal Territories minister displayed how gender insensitive he was when he equated properties with women as he drew an analogy that women with makeup and houses that have been renovated attracting a higher value. This prompted the MP for Ampang and PKR Wanita Head to lambast him publicly for his remarks. He has since apologised but the damage has been done.
The passing of the grand icon of freedom and democracy, Nelson Mandela has drawn tributes of respect and admiration from world leaders who unequivocally sung praises of the great man’s qualities in particular his strong spirit of humanity and forgiveness.
Malaysia’s leaders past and present were quick to point out their association with this great leader and his long and arduous struggle for freedom. But Colin Nicholas does not mince his words when he explains in his article that “Mahathir is no Mandela”.
As we move into 2014, Malaysians will need to brace ourselves for a tough year ahead. Inflation is rearing its ugly head with the rising costs of electricity, petrol and other essential items. The GST when implemented will be an additional burden, particularly for low-income and poor Malaysians.
A truly good and caring government will definitely focus on how to ease the economic hardship of the poor and downtrodden during these difficult times. Let us hope that it will live up to our expectations. The Rakyat is watching…
Once again, if you have any family members and close friends who would like to receive this e-newsletter, please email to [email protected] their email addresses and we will include them in our mailing list.
Happy New Year 2014 to one and all.
Co-editor, Aliran E-newsletter
24 December 2013