Monday, February 20, 2006

Who hijacked democracy in Malaysia?

Submitted to Malaysiakini but never made it

It is funny to hear people say that Anwar Ibrahim will never have a chance at being Prime Minister outside of UMNO. It is even funnier to hear people say that we should be grateful for our government. In Malaysia, we have only seen one political party in government and as a result we the people do not understand the fundamentals of democracy and our parliamentary system.

We have not realized that we, the people elect the government to serve and to uphold the constitution of the country. We are fearful to understand what may lie ahead should we ever have a change in government. However, a mature democracy ensures the right of the people to change governments according to the majority of the people. The US alone had a republican in office in 1980 (the same time as Dr Mahathir), a democrat in 1992 and now a republican again in 2000. We not only had the same government we had the same leader in that 20 year span! This is nothing really to be proud off. By having a change in government, it puts the onus on the government and his leader to perform. To govern with the highest calling of his office.

The opposition in Malaysia in the last 2 decades have been seen as subversive elements and many have been arrested under the Internal Security Act. A threat to national security it seems. Now, our Dr Mahathir says it is not good to have too weak an opposition. In the UK, the opposition is known as Her Majesty’s Opposition party. They are recognized as government in waiting.

It is not impossible therefore for Malaysia who claims parliamentary democracy to have a change in government one day for the mark of a mature democracy is smooth transition of power. This is only possible if the police and the Royal Malaysian army and armed forces and civil services understand their role as civil servants in nation building and protecting the constitution. The result of almost 5 decades of rule is the blurriness between BN the political party and the seat of government which is an elected office. The blurriness extends to the civil servants who see themselves as BN officers rather than the Malaysian government.

We must educate our young on the freedom of choice and with it comes the responsibility of electing a government that truly upholds and protects the freedom of all Malaysian people through the rule of law and ensures the sacredness of the Constitution of Malaysia.

So it should never be said that it is impossible for Anwar Ibrahim to be Prime Minister. He who says that, says democracy is dead in Malaysia. That our election is a farce and the rakyat will never have a say. I would like to believe that elections in Malaysia is free and fair and that any party can one day hold office in government and on the flip side any government who fails to protect the constitution and the Malaysian people by protecting their rights could be removed from government.

Corruption cause of many woes

To borrow Roberta Flack's line, "killing me softly with his song", the politicians, civil servants and those in authority are "killing this country softly" with corruption. Platitudes and promises aside, it is no joke that the level of systemic corruption in our country has gone from bad to worse. Leaders can choose to ignore it and close an eye to this, but the truth is everywhere we turn we see the destruction and trace of corruption. Services and infra structure is breaking down and left unmaintained, busses and trucks are spewing out smoke and the haze is there every year. I returned to KLIA after visitng Shanghai, Hong Kong, Shenzen and Singapore airports and noted the vast difference in its apperance although most of this airports were built around the same time. Our arrival hall is dark, dingy and stuffy. Road accidents due to undeserving drivers who get kopi "O" lisence and trucks with balding tires are aplenty. How, you say is this all due to corruption?

When tenders are bypassed. When a phone call is made to influence a decision when under table money is passed to decision makers; the most proficient and efficient contractor is side stepped for the one with the better offerings or contact. This is how we get hospitals with fungus, bridges deemed unsafe, roads not made to spec, parks turned into housing developments and trees feld without permission. This is why we have increasing health cost, toll plazas from "money losing companies", degenerating green lung, haze, pollution, cancer, sickness. All because of corruption.

The PMs National Integrity Plan , a breath of fresh air is now a mere mirage. Integrity is who you are when no one is looking. Malaysians need to know the effects of what they do. China was abound in local municipal corruption. In the last year, they have cracked down on many and I hear a local mayor near Shanghai was shot by firing squad for taking government funds. Things are changing and all of suddeen there is law an order. There is still a long way to go for China but the important thing is there is a crackdown and an intolerance to corruption. Maybe we won't shoot our corrupt leaders and civil servants but lets do the minimum by exposing them and weeding them out of their positions. Enough of mere talk!