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Humanity, power and democracy

  • How different is PH from BN if it holds back what is right, such as ratifying ICERD and recognizing the UEC, for fear of losing the Malay support? Photo courtesy: Bernama

Sin Chew Daily

According to EIU Democracy Index 2018, Malaysia's ranking has improved from 59th to 52nd, thanks to improved "political participation" from the 14th general elections.

As Malaysians, we know very well how far we have gone.

Even though there is indeed some improvement in terms of democracy, there is still ample space for improvement.

While young leaders from Pakatan Harapan are teeming with ideals and progressive political beliefs, a healthy democratic system is yet to be established, and power abuse and human weaknesses will continue to bog down the progress of democracy in this country.

Is the PH government more democratic than its predecessor or how much progress has been made so far? These questions can only be answered through scientific evaluation.

It is imperative that the new government must avoid the same mistakes of the previous BN administration, and should not be contented with the little progress that has been made.

Lawyers for Liberty adviser N Surendran has accused former prime minster Najib Razak of the most serious abuse of the Sedition Act in the country's history, chalking up a total of 170 sedition cases between 2013 and 2016.

Nevertheless, the PH government has not abolished the Sedition Act as promised, and the police recently detained three social media users for insulting the royal family under the Sedition Act.

Indeed PH uses the Sedition Act less frequently than BN, but that does not mean the draconian law should be retained and allowed to continue threatening Malaysians' human rights and freedom of expression.

No doubt the Sedition Act and other oppressive laws excessively empowering the authorities are a boon to further consolidate the existing administration. However, democracy cannot move forward if such laws are not annulled. Already international organizations are skeptical of the new government's sincerity in implementing reforms.

BN did have the record of intimidating the voters, and the same habits are now being picked up by PH leaders. For example, PKR's senator Bob Manolan Mohd was alleged to have threatened orangasli chiefs during the Cameron Highlands by-election campaign that they might lose their salaries and posts if they did not support PH.

Additionally, PPBM vice president Abdul Rashid has openly urged party leaders in the party's general assembly to distribute government resources to the divisions to ensure PPBM wins the next general elections.

If this mentality is allowed to go on unchecked, very soon PH will go down the "money politics" way of BN.

Government resources are supposed to be used for development and the benefit of rakyat, not politicians.

The GE14 results for Cameron Highlands have been nullified by the court because of suspected acts of corruption by BN candidate. PH must show us what a clean and fair election is.

With the power comes possible abuses. The ruling coalition must have the right political beliefs and a set of rules controlling the acts of leaders must also be established soonest, without which illegal acts will be deemed acceptable and excusable.

The previous BN government did not have the habit of listening to the people, and did what it wished. While the PH government does listen to some of our views, there is still room for improvement. For example, the National Education Policy Committee (JKD) has sought the views of the public to improve the existing national education policy, which is the right way of doing things.

Nevertheless, where abolition of death penalty is concerned, the government has failed to do the same.

The PH government must take good care of all underprivileged Malaysians, including the minorities. The government has done the right thing for making allocations for independent Chinese high schools and private tertiary institutions, and should never fear the criticisms from the opposition.

How different is PH from BN if it holds back what is right, such as ratifying ICERD and recognizing the UEC, for fear of losing the Malay support?

We still need more time to see whether the PH government will implement more democratic reforms, such as removing judicial intervention, double standards in law enforcement and strengthening freedom of expression, among others.

PH leaders should focus more on democratic reforms and not their personal agenda, or the coalition may one day be reduced to BN 2.0.


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