The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) wishes all Malaysians a dynamic Year of the Rabbit in the Chinese calendar, where democracy may take another leap forward to reach a stable and mature multi-party competition.
The Year of the Tiger had presented the people with challenges and trials, but the public’s will to have an ‘anti-hopping’ law materialised on 5 October 2022, allowing a party-based coalition government to be formed on 24 November from the hung parliament produced by the 2022 general election.
We are heartened in the last week [of the Year of the Tiger] by Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s vision of nation-rebuilding: “Malaysia madani” (a Malaysia that is advanced in thought, spirituality and community development), with six values: sustainability, prosperity, innovation, respect, trust and compassion.
However, many Malaysians fear that Malaysia Madani would just become another empty slogan like former prime ministers’ visions and slogans – from “Bersih, cekap, amanah” (Clean, efficient, trustworthy), “Vision 2020”, “Islam hadhari” (Civilisation Islam), “1Malaysia”, “Malaysia baru” (New Malaysia), “Malaysia prihatin” (Caring Malaysia) and “Keluarga Malaysia” (Malaysian family).
How can Malaysia madani prevent, among others:
- Parties from buying votes in the name of charity because the Election Offence Act is never consistently enforced?
- Voters from treating elected representatives as cash machines in human form because they have no power to effect change in Parliament or the state legislature?
- Parties from changing coalitions and bringing down governments over ministerial or government-linked company jobs?
- The Attorney General Chambers from dropping charges againg corrupt politicians and state officers?
- Opposition MPs from playing up ethno-religious sentiments because they are not incentivised and supported to develop policy expertise?
- Opposition-led state governments from being denied equal access to federal funds?
- Federal and state elected representatives on the opposition bench from being denied equal access to constituency development funds?
- Businesses from controlling political parties that depend on private funding to operate because they are not supported by public subsidies?
- Voters from feeling tired with elections because they cannot know in advance the election dates and yet they have to travel home to vote?
Bersih is not at all pessimistic with Malaysia madani. We see its full potential to transform Malaysia if two conditions are met:
First, respect and trust between political parties must be established.
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Second, innovation must prevail over business-as-usual resistance in institutional reforms.
We look forward to Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim initiating a cross-party, cross-sector, cross-state national conversation with a concrete agenda to operationalise his Malaysia madani ideal in political culture and institutional reforms. Bersih is ever ready to assist him and other leaders – in Parliament and in the cabinet – with such an initiative.
Bersih wishes Malaysia a rabbit leap in true political stability and accountability, with which Malaysia can build business confidence and catch up in post-Covid recovery to achieve the three other values in Malaysia madani: sustainability, prosperity and compassion. – Bersih/Facebook