The government should ease the minds of the people by passing a parliamentary resolution that the 13th general elections will be democratic, free and fair, writes John Inbaraj. The resolution must further include a clause that the Barisan shall concede power graciously should the opposition win.
Great Man talk of Ideas, Average Man talk of Things and Small Man talk of other Men. If I choose to be kind, I can best rate the Malaysian government as average.
In the days of old, our leaders were visionaries, people who talked of great plans and ideas for the country. They had quality – the likes of Tunku Abdul Rahman and Tun Hussein Onn. Whether or not their visions and policies achieved their desired goals, they were genuine Malaysians with a heart for the nation. There were others on the sidelines who stood strong to ideals and contributed unselfishly to nation building.
However, the prime Minister after that, the great Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, began the systematic dismantling of the principles of democracy and the downward slide of an entire nation. He is widely seen as the man who almost single-handedly destroyed the basic instruments of parliamentary democracy. As the chief executive, he was an elected dictator, the executive completely subservient to him. Parliament became a mere rubber stamp. And the Judiciary was hammered so badly that it may now need a miracle to restore its status as one of the Commonwealth’s most competent pillars of democracy.
Key personnel who spoke against him were removed. Tengku Razaleigh who democratically challenged him for the Umno presidency was finished off politically. Many are still not convinced that the election itself was clean. Then we had Musa Hitam, Ghafar Baba, and Anwar Ibrahim leaving the Deputy Premiership of the country under not-so-good circumstances. During Mahathir’s reign, Umno too was deregistered by the courts.
Down the line, Tan Sri Ahmad Noordin, the then Auditor General, and Tun Salleh Abas, the then Lord President of the Supreme Court, were manipulated out of office for daring to go against him. The Monarchy too had its powers clipped during his tenure.
‘Operasi Lallang’ was another sad and frightening episode during Mahathir’s regime. No one was free, whether the opposition leader, a disabled human rights activist or just an ordinary citizen. University Student leaders went into hiding and religious people could not sleep in peace.
At Stadium Negara, a massive Umno gathering daringly shouted abuse at especially Chinese and Indian Malaysians, telling them to go back to China and India. Some of these Umno leaders are now helming the country!
Cronyism evolved without much ado. Under the guise of raising Malay equity, people associated with the leadership became overnight millionaires. During the economic downturn crony companies were bailed out with public funds. The sale of Malaysian Airline System to Tajudin Ramli and the re-purchase later by the government at a ludicrous price smacked of open corruption. Negotiated tender was a new and popular method of giving out contracts. With privatisation, Malaysians suddenly saw a steep increase in the cost of living.
At the height of Mahathir’s battle with Tengku Razaleigh (during the latter’s time in Semangat 46), rumours abounded of an influx of foreigners especially into Sabah and Sarawak. Today, PKR seems to suggest that over 100000 foreigners allegedly have been granted citizenship, allowing them to vote and help re-capture Selangor for the Barisan.
Malaysians are peace-loving and docile people. Going to the streets and waging war is not our style. Quietly though, many people especially the younger generation are planning to flee this country and take up residence in other countries. Moderate Malay-Muslims are among them.
Mere lip service that the government is fair to all races cannot help. When decisive action is not taken fairly against perpetrators of racial and religious discord, one cannot help but fear that they are partial to some or even to those who orchestrate some of these events. Utusan’s brazen attempts to create social and religious discord and the government’s response to it seem to suggest that this may in fact be a government agenda.
Surviving Umno and Barisan politicians must know what is happening. The senior ones who may no longer be active in the government must stand up and save this country from bankruptcy, extremism and terror…while they are still held in high esteem and before they pass on.
The moderates of all races, the god-fearing people and well-intentioned politicians past and present, those in state agencies such as the election commission, the judiciary, the armed forces and the MACC must stand up for justice and fair-play.
The government of the day must move to ease the minds of the people by a resolution of parliament that the 13th general elections will be democratic, free and fair. The resolution must further include a clause that the Barisan shall concede power graciously should the opposition win whether at state or national level. It is the peoples’ right to choose and it is this right that will ensure that democracy continues to thrive. The will of the majority must prevail.
I humbly ask the Prime Minister and his cabinet to declare this statement to the people. Win fairly and you stand tall. Lose graciously and you still walk tall. The coming general elections will be the most important yet for our beloved country.
John Inbaraj is an Aliran member based in Penang.