The world is astounded how a peaceful rally for free and fair elections could create such panic and paranoia for a democratic government as to cause it to jettison all lip-service commitments to democracy and human rights – as is happening in Malaysia.
The civilized world is watching with increasing alarm at the swift descent to “madness” in Malaysia where perfectly decent, civil and legitimate calls for free and fair elections is regarded by those in power as an even greater threat to its authority than by terrorist attacks or foreign invasion.
Is Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s hold on power so fragile that a successful peaceful rally calling for free, fair a clean elections could as good as topple and end the 54-year rule of Umno and BN in Malaysia?
Is the UMNO and Barisan Nasional position in government so precarious that they have to challenge the just and wise intervention of the Yang di Pertuan Agong resulting in Bersih agreeing to abandon its July 9 march in favour of a stadium rally, which itself had the endorsement of the Prime Minister?
Reason, common sense and good governance have been thrown to the winds to the extent that the wildest allegations have been concocted to demonise the Bersih organisers and supporters, while intolerant and extremist groups have been given immunity and impunity to preach and threaten violence, race hatred and religious tensions.
What is more shocking, the efficiency, independence, integrity and professionalism of the police have been compromised in the process – nullifying all efforts initiated by the Dzaiddin Royal Police Commission in 2005 making recommendations to create an efficient, incorruptible, professional world-class police service focussed on the three core functions – to keep crime low, to eradicate corruption and to uphold human rights.
The Malaysian Police cannot be unaware of the report of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) 2005 on “Police Accountability: Too Important to Neglect, To Urgent to Delay” on the principle of democratic policing as an important pillar of a functioning democracy:
“Democratic nations need democratic policing. Democratic policing is based on the idea the police are protectors of the rights of citizens and the rule of law, while ensuring the safety and security of all equally. It rejects any resemblance to the regime policing of colonial times. Colonial style policing was based on the idea of police as protectors of a government foreign to the people.”
Police of all ranks must search their soul to find answer to the question whether they are prepared to accept that the fundamental of policing in a democratic nation must be the protection and vindication of the human rights of all in the country and not to suppress them.
Wherever he may be, there is no way the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak can disclaim responsibility for any crackdown on human rights and civil liberties of Malaysians tomorrow.
It is not too late for sanity and good sense to prevail and for the Prime Minister to ensure that tomorrow, July 9, will not enter the annals of Malaysia as a black day for democracy and human rights in Malaysia – a day darker than the Operation Lalang of 1987.