12 November, 2007

Malaysians Want Their Country Back

Malaysia saw its biggest anti-government rally in nearly a decade at the weekend, suggesting that the government of Abdullah Badawi could face a tougher time at the next general election than its landslide victory in 2004.

The opposition coalition wants an overhaul of what it says are unreliable voter lists and biased media coverage that favours the government.

The demonstration in the country’s capital was the latest challenge to PM Abdullah's government, which has been criticised for failing to tackle corruption and promoting the interests of the country's ethnic Malay majority at the expense of the Chinese and Indian minorities.

Analysts believe that the government will fail to achieve the same level of support that it received in the 2004 elections, when it gained more than 90 per cent of the parliamentary seats.

An election setback could weaken support within the ruling United Malays National Organisation for Abdullah's economic reforms, including the restructuring of state companies and the creation of special economic zones that repeal many of the affirmative action provisions for ethnic Malays.

The protesters at the weekend demonstration wore yellow, the colour of royalty, in a plea for the royal aristocracy to reassert its influence on politics. Several royal family members have called for a relaxation of the autocratic rule that was established by Mahathir Mohamad,Abdullah's predecessor.

The Prime Minister said the illegal gathering of thousands of people that ended with a memorandum being handed over to an Istana Negara official was an attempt by the opposition to “trap” the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

“I believe the King is more mature. The royalty understands and will not be trapped by their (the opposition’s) politics,” he said after opening the Parti Bersatu Sabah 22nd congress yesterday.

Insults were rained on the opposition in the Dewan Rakyat today over the massive rally held in Kuala Lumpur over the weekend. The minister goes ballistic over the mammoth weekend rally. Apart from calling the opposition 'wimps', he also says that the 'wires in their heads are severed' according to Malaysiakini.


A Wake-Up Call for the Government: Malaysians Want Their Country Back

That elections should be free, fair and transparent is perhaps one of the most basic requirements of any working democracy, and to demand that elections should be free, fair and transparent is perhaps one of the most fundamental rights of any society. When citizens demand such things it can and should be seen as an act of civic responsibility and they should be commended for it. Indeed, it ought to be seen as a test of civic participation and citizenship that all citizens should demand that their state works and functions properly and accountably, to serve the interest of the nation as a whole and not a select coterie of landed elites and entrenched class interests.

That was exactly what happened in the streets of Kuala Lumpur on 10th November and for that reason alone Malaysians should be proud to say that they are in the process of reclaiming the state and demanding their country back. As in the cases of Pakistan and Burma – as well as the pro-democracy movements that swept across Southeast Asia in the 1980s and 1990s which led to the fall of dictators like Ferdinand Marcos and General Suharto – what happened in Malaysia was, in many ways, a landmark moment in the country’s postcolonial history.

Yet ironically elements in the Malaysian government – the very same elements that ostensibly supported the recent pro-democracy campaign in Burma – were at the forefront of demonising their fellow citizens and doing their utmost to prevent the demonstration in Kuala Lumpur from taking place. Leaders of the ruling UMNO party issues a continuous stream of warnings to the general public, warning them not to take to the streets. UMNO leaders and members who were willing to join in the rallies calling for democratic reform in Burma were suddenly taking the opposite side when the very same demands were being articulated in Malaysia by their fellow Malaysians. Malaysians were told that they would be arrested if they attended the rally; that the demonstrators were a nuisance and a security threat; that the demonstration would deter foreign investment into Malaysia. Yet the mind boggles at the logic of such arguments, when it should be clear that what is deterring investment into the country is not public demonstrations but rather mismanagement of the economy, allegations of corruption and abuse of power by the elite instead....more


- Written by Farish A. Noor

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2 Comments:

Blogger Zawi said...

The malaysian Government under AAB is constantly under the state of denial thinking that they still have the support of the masses. Little did they realise the general unhapiness of the populace due to their lack sensitivities to the need of the people. To them satisfying the UMNOputras are all they need to make the people happy. How wrong they are.

November 12, 2007 7:58 PM  
Blogger Linken Lim said...

zawi

No one is free, when others are oppressed !! To our sleepy PM,
Malaysia = UMNOputras,you work with me, not for me, and most importantly, u must not object !

November 12, 2007 10:41 PM  

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