Malaysia is in the news again – this time with news of the “partial royal pardon” granted by the outgoing king.
Ex-Prime Minister Najib Razak had his sentence cut from 12 years to six years and his fine from RM210m to RM50m.
We live in a world of contradictions: one person’s kleptocrat is another person’s “Bossku” (my boss).
Bossku loyalists and supporters rejoiced at receiving such good news. Some even declared that their beloved leader deserved a full pardon.
On the other side of the divide, many individuals and civil service organisations publicly expressed their concerns, utter disappointment, sense of betrayal and outrage at the decision of the Pardons Board, especially on social media.
I’m sure many, many more would have ranted and raved and expressed their bitterness and revulsion privately, knowing full well the restrictions the law has imposed on their freedom of expression in this matter.
But can the law restrain our conscience?!
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Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has advised everyone to “respect the pardon process” and Communications Minister Fahmi Fadzil has cautioned all parties not to “overreact in making comments” in the face of action by the relevant authorities.
What does that mean, especially when the “pardons process” is so opaque, with conflicting information and shocking revelations coming from different sources while the relevant authorities remain silent?
One cannot deny or ignore the dire consequences and implications of this Pardons Board decision on the basic rights of the people and the administration of justice.
These implications extend to the democratic processes and institutions in the country, not to mention our political culture, which the “Madani” (civil and compassionate) government apparently wants to reform. Many have written and spoken about all this already.
What should we the people do? Keep silent and trust that the king and the government know what is best for our country? Give up all hope for a better Malaysia and leave the country?
Some have suggested we boycott the next elections. How does that ensure a better Malaysia?
Many who have strived hard for decades for a better Malaysia have seen that change doesn’t always happen in a linear manner. We must not give up on the progress we have already made over the last few decades, even if it seems like we are regressing.
We have to become resilient and creative in our endeavours for a better Malaysia. We must not give in to despair and hopelessness. We must continue to hold the government to account.
While dialogue and engagement is always preferred and hoped for, we must be ready to challenge the perpetrators of injustice openly, especially though the effective use of social media.
There is much to do – and there are still many out there willing to do what it takes to reclaim our nation!