People’s Call for Regime Change – Part 1

By NH Chan
17 February, 2011

(The People’s Judge reflects on the turmoil in the Middle East – a people’s revolution inspired by the power of the new media on the internet such as Facebook and Twitter – and the lessons for us in Malaysia. He ends with a personal note of his own political awakening, and a call to action for all of us who care for this country.-

The uprising in Egypt, the uprising in Tunisia,the uprising in Yemen and even in Jordan there are rumblings in the kingdom. The message is clear. The people do not want their dictators.

And what is the difference between kings, dictators and oligarchs? They are all totalitarian regimes – this means a system of government consisting of only one leader or party and having complete power and control over the people.

But the people do not want that kind of government; they want democracy – this word means a form of government in which the people have a say in who should hold power; they do not want despotism. And this wish of the people could only mean that they want a government of the people, by the people and for the people which is what a true democracy actually is.

In other words, they do not want repressive rule in any shape or form. They want human rights. They do not want draconian and oppressive laws.

In short, they do not want to live under a perennial state of emergency because all emergency laws are only excuses for tyranny. They also want freedom of speech and a free press.

In other words they want a government which is accountable to the people. They want change from authoritarian – this word, which is an adjective, means demanding strict obedience of authority – rule.

And what is the antithesis of totalitarianism? It is democracy, which is what the people really want. In a democracy, the people can choose their own representatives in government. If the people’s choice did not perform up to their expectations they could be replaced by the people.

In a true democracy, there will be no such thing as intervention from an illegitimate source to hijack the people’s choice of representatives in their government.
The foreboding of a dictatorship

What has happened in Egypt and in the Middle East was a people’s call for regime change. The dictators there who have clung to power should have seen the writing on the wall; it was time for them to leave. The people, especially the young people because they are educated and well informed, did not want them. They have overstayed their tenure.

They became corrupted by power; there is a well known adage which says power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Any dictatorship is tyrannical – the word means ‘using power in a cruel and oppressive way’ – as was seen in Egypt under Hosni Mubarak who had clung to power for 30 years. In recent events there, we have seen water cannons and tear gas being used on peaceful protestors by the regime. Mubarak’s Gestapo like police have tortured and killed dissenters: I saw a peaceful protestor exclaim on TV “They have shot me! What am I? The enemy?”

In this country we have been governed by the Barisan Nasional (BN) for some 53 years. This country is supposed to be a democracy. But it is not. Guided democracy is nothing more than an excuse for tyranny. We still have draconian laws. People are still being incarcerated under the ISA which is detention without trial. There is police brutality which seems to be endemic in the force. The people’s fundamental freedoms have been muzzled; they have even used the Sedition Act against the country’s citizens.

Respect cannot be forced. If you are good respect comes naturally. The people do not want their legitimately elected state government to be hijacked by the autocrats. What happened in Perak and in Selangor are the clearest examples of governmental wrongdoings. So that if these autocrats are not careful, the tyrannical happenings in this country could easily turn into a catalyst for change.

But we do not want to follow the trend as played out in the Middle East. It is necessary, therefore, that we earnestly take steps to make the change from the BN regime at the next general elections by replacing it with a democratic one.

We do not want autocrats – the word means ‘rulers or persons with absolute power who expect obedience’ – to tell us with supercilious arrogance what is good for us, for that is another excuse for tyranny.

We want our rulers to be answerable to us, the people. Despots are not needed to run this country because they will always be corrupted by power – that is the reason why the Prime Minister and members of his Cabinet should not be allowed to stay in office for more than two terms. The same should apply to the Menteri Besars and the Excos.

Animal Farm

If you have read Animal Farm -a novel by George Orwell, published in 1945 – you will know what I mean. The book is a satire in fable form. The pigs (whose leader is Napoleon) become corrupted by power and a new tyranny replaces the old. The ultimate slogan runs ‘All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others‘.

The BN has been with us for 53 years and on each succession of the BN government a new tyranny replaces the old. I say this because nothing has changed since the BN came to power. We have the same repressive laws. But there is now a new tyranny. The new evil is the hijacking of a legitimately elected state government in Perak and this, in my estimation, is the last straw for the people of Perak to tolerate. For the rest of the country, remember this, if it can happen in Perak it could happen again elsewhere in this country.

This was mainly the reason that made me change my mind from being apolitical to decide to vote for the underdogs because what the BN had done to Perak was wickedly unfair and unjustifiable.

After reading the book Perak: A State of Crisis I realized that these people do not even know right from wrong. They even gloat in their wrongdoings. We do not want the oligarchy – this word means a country governed by a small group of people – to be more equal than us.

I don’t have to tell you who they are – even in the BN some ‘animals’ are more equal than others. Look at their opulence.

It is a good thing if every member of the Cabinet and every member of the Exco are investigated as to their financial status and assets before they can assume office. And when they leave office they are to be investigated again. They are to be accountable if they are found to be richer than what they could have earned while in office when they leave.

That is why democracy requires the representatives of the people to be accountable to the people. Look at Mr Lim Kit Siang, he has been in politics for as long as I can remember and his son is currently the Chief Minister of Penang. Another was the late Dr Lim Chong Eu. The Perakians and the Penangites know that they are not rich.

One should be in politics to serve the people, not to get rich.

NH Chan, a much respected former Court of Appeal Judge, is a gavel of justice that has no hesitation in pounding on Federal Court judges with wooden desks for heads. Retired from the Judiciary to become the People?s Judge. Wrote the explosive “Judging The Judges”, now in its 2nd edition as “How To Judge The Judges”. Once famously hinted at a possible “case match” between lawyer and judge by remarking that “something is rotten in the state of Denmark” (see Ayer Molek Rubber Company Berhad & Ors v Insas Berhad & Anor [1995] 3 CLJ 359). We need more people like NH Chan. That?s why you should buy PASOC and his book.

  1. #1 by Thinking Two on Friday, 18 February 2011 - 11:29 am

    “One should be in politics to serve the people, not to get rich.”

    Opposite: BN is merely for getting rich.

    BN serve the people just for two weeks before General Election and the rest of the 5 years shake legs.

  2. #2 by Godfather on Friday, 18 February 2011 - 11:38 am

    I don’t fully agree with NH Chan. The regime changes in Tunisia and Egypt were not triggered by the need for democracy. It was triggered by the need for the very basics of human survival – affordable food and basic amenities. When these were “off the charts” as they were in Tunisia and Egypt, the people started to realise that it was corruption that precipitated the rise in food and fuel prices.

    In Bolehland, we are still far away from any precipitious rises in food and fuel prices. Look at Najib – he even announced reductions in tolls !

    Democracy takes a back seat when the stomach is taken care of, and Barisan knows this. They also know that RM 50 is sufficient to buy a vote from the ignorant.

  3. #3 by jus legitimum on Friday, 18 February 2011 - 12:52 pm

    In Malaysia,though corruption,abuse of power and mismanagement take a heavy toll on the general standard of living of the people.But most people are being hookwinkd,deceived and misled by racial and religious bigots and had their attention diverted elsewhere.Currently,they use Utusan,Perkasa and Mamak to achieve their wicked and sinister motives.

  4. #4 by boh-liao on Friday, 18 February 2011 - 1:18 pm

    Happy 70th Birthday (20.2.11), LKS!

  5. #5 by k1980 on Friday, 18 February 2011 - 1:41 pm

    //BN serve the people just for two weeks before General Election and the rest of the 5 years shake legs.//

    No, they don’t shake legs— they shake their money boxes to listen to the gold coins jingling inside and wish that they have USD 70 billion as Mubarak has.

  6. #6 by monsterball on Friday, 18 February 2011 - 2:29 pm

    The wind of change is blowing all over Middle East to get rid of dictators and corruptions in Muslim countries.
    At our backyard….Indonesia..the largest Muslim country in the world.. led the way.
    It had to be in the Middle East being inspired.
    All know our government does not only dictate and are corrupted to the core……yet they do not care nor feel shameful.
    And now…the master minder..the gang leader is saying how he hated ISA…20 years ago.
    Suddenly…20 years ago …the famous “Operation Lallang”….arresting 104 under ISA is being discussed and …l have rounded up few old ones to support him.
    Why talk now. Why not 15 years ago?….or the day he retired 8 years ago?
    One thing is sure..he has no answers for accusations thrown to him stealing RM100 billions in 22 years.
    He has no answer to PKFZ RM14.5 billion and his bail out of his son’s company with RM1.2 billion from tax payers money.
    He was a self confessed Dictator….and Dictators are thrown out in all Muslim countries.
    Are the Muslims that voted for UMNO B in Malaysia… that slow to learn the truths…holding on to racists sentiments…or simply write an “X” at ballot papers with no second brainless and being hypnotized to the limit?
    But one thing is sure…UMNO B not very unfair and unjust in politics…
    Middle East Muslims are fighting for Freedom.
    UMNO B members will be judged clearly in these few years.

  7. #7 by DAP man on Friday, 18 February 2011 - 2:42 pm

    How can we compare Lim Kit Siang and his son to the opportunists and robbers in BN.
    The Lim’s are there with a conviction and love for democracy.
    The BN chaps are there to enrich themselves at whatever cost. They fake religious piety to fool the people.
    The Lims never portray themselves to be pious or holy but I tell you, God loves them.
    The UMNO chaps are deemed for Hell where they can bring their ill gotten gains, wives and mistresses.

  8. #8 by Ray on Friday, 18 February 2011 - 3:31 pm

    In Malusai, UmnoBN is a Dictatorship Party alliances…nobody oppose the PM and he makes decision, say and does everything by himself…the rest of BN lawmakers kept quiet and say or answer YES or ya disagreement were allowed….intolerable character …..either very religious or pagan.
    Whenever in public places forum campaign these morons nice to people with deceitful smiles at people ..quietly stab yr back easily with their warm disguised smile.
    This is the peculiarity of a Dictator ruling in any nation worldwide.
    Aggression must be fought, not wished away. And the world is a dynamic place.
    Today’s solutions will likely be irrelevant tomorrow as new challenges eclipse the current ones.
    Remember >>Whatever PR strategies adopt it must be rational, flexible and sober-minded if we are to chart a forward course .
    Otherwise be thrown asunder by the BN Hilarious storm.
    PR must be united and serve the interest of nation…NOT Monies worshippers.

  9. #9 by limkamput on Friday, 18 February 2011 - 3:35 pm

    What happened in Egypt and Tunisia are just occasional spring cleaning. Do you think a substantive change has really happened? Well, the people were angry and so they went into the streets. But what really happened was a change from one tyrannical despot to another. Soon the army will use tanks, bullets and bayonets to quell the rebellion in the name of maintaining law and order. Of course they will promise free election and democracy within a year or so. But trust me; none of these is going to happen. Soon, a strong army guy or someone anointed by the army will emerge to rule Egypt and Tunisia for the next three years with the same style and pomp as Mubarak. In fact, what Mahathir said recently on his inability to overrule the Police on ISA arrests worried me. Was he paving the way for the present administration to do the same and then blame it on the police?

    Democracy cannot work unless people are enlightened and free to articulate their views. Occasional spring cleaning is not going to work as in the case of Egypt and Tunisia. Now back to Malaysia. Do you think our people are enlightened enough? How can we have democracy when the vast majority are so ignorant and corrupted? There are so many politicians in BN – are you saying they are not aware that the BN government was/is inept, incompetent and corrupted. I believe they know, but they will continue supporting the BN government and continue galvanising the support from the ignorant people for their own selfish gains. If a tin of Milo, some cheap biscuits and a RM50.00 angpow can satisfy most of the rural constituents, I must say we still have a long way to go. What we read in this blog and other news portals are poor reflection of the real sentiment on the ground. Most people don’t care, don’t know and are not aware of the role they can play. How many of them really know their livelihood could have been better if the government of day had been more competent and less corrupted.

    What can PR do? Well, I think they should spend more time convincing the rural constituents rather than writing sophisticated stuff in the internet. They must be able to explain in simple form how the change in government would benefit them in real terms – things that they can relate to. As I see it, the people in Tenang couldn’t give two-hooks to why TBH died, why there was still ISA, why the police abuse others, and why the earlier state government of Perak was dethroned. Now, I am not saying these are not important. They are, but not to the rural constituents. For them, we need different and better strategies, more so they have been subjected to years of indoctrination, brain washing and stereotyping.

  10. #10 by sotong on Friday, 18 February 2011 - 3:48 pm

    Nobody wants a repressive regime……China is the most repressive.

  11. #11 by boh-liao on Friday, 18 February 2011 - 4:28 pm

    RACE n RELIGION r 2 powerful emotional elements manipulated/exploited by opportunistic politicians all over d world 2 hoodwink like-minded or simple followers

    D opportunistic politicians became dictators under a pseudo democratic system, supported by their cronies n blind, emotionally insecure simple supporters

    We saw a couple of Muslim leaders (who seem 2 b pious, 2 pray 5X a day, n performed Hajj) finally kicked out by their brave ppl bcos of their evil, corrupt, crooked practices

    Yes, they can fool some of d ppl all of d time, n all of d people some of d time, but they cannot fool all of d people all of d time

    In M’sia, racist UmnoB n BN r propped up by their opportunistic cronies n simple followers, scared stiff by their lies on RACE n RELIGION
    4 how long? PR must break dis chain of fear n insecurity amg simple ppl in order 2 win GE
    Can PR win d hearts n minds of simple ppl/voters? R voters ready 2 CHANGE?

  12. #12 by dagen on Friday, 18 February 2011 - 4:31 pm

    Government of the people, by the people and for the people? No. That is old fashion. Ask jib. He has gone on a roadshow to promote the newest political ideology to the world. Gobermen for utama, kan first, people, dahulu, kan, rakyat, kan.

    Sorry. Cant quite recall the whole line. Its quite a mouthful of “kan”s. You know. Rakyat errr people kena “kan” here and “kan” there. “Kan” this way like “dahulu” and “kan” that way.

    Clearly NH Chan has some learning to do. Animal Farm thought him well. But he needs some rambutans to keep up if he truly cinta negara.

  13. #13 by dagen on Friday, 18 February 2011 - 4:35 pm

    Errr cinta kan negara

  14. #14 by Loh on Friday, 18 February 2011 - 5:27 pm

    It is possible to overthrow the dictatorial regimes in the Middle East because the people belong almost exclusively to one religion. So the people are clear about who they want to be thrown out.

    Corruption level in Egypt or Tunisia does not exceed that in Malaysia. Yet Wikileaks was good enough to trigger uprising. But here in Malaysia, corruption such as in the PKFZ, the service contract for submarines, the collapse of newly built stadium, and the forever substandard buildings of government projects are daily news, and the people have accepted that politicians are there for money. The unique situation in Malaysia has been created by kongsi-rasuah built on the basis of NEP.

    In the modern age where it has been a norm for modern governments to provide assistance to the less well to do families to keep them alive, affirmative actions to prepare the weaker sector of the society serve to reduce over reliance of the population on the government. But when affirmative action is based on the need to ameliorate the sense of jealousy against others, the satisfaction of basic needs would not do. Such affirmative action evolved into satisfying the desires of the favoured groups. UMNO government justifies that jealousy happens only across racial ground, and within the same race among the Malays, income disparity is not a problem. In fact, Malay billionaires are created to show that Malays do not lag behind other races, and the rural poor should be proud of their rich heroes. Based on that guiding principle, Malays do not oppose the easy money schemes such as the APs which allow the Prime Minister and his Minister to create wealthy individuals as they please. They accept that APs had been utilized to privatize profit when most of them had to pay more buying proton or other motor vehicles. When the majority of the population vote for UMNO to remain in power despite public knowledge of how state funds have been misused, Najib is right to claim that what happened in the Middle East would not happen here.

    Malaysia has been lucky since 1974 after the creation of Petronas, to have easy money coming into government coffers. Just when the worry that Malaysia would become net importer of oil within this decade Petronas has just announced new find of hundreds of million barrels of oil and trillions cubic meter of gas. So, Najib might soon announce the cessation of the sale and service tax nearer the GE 13. That gives him the pleasure of spending huge amount of funds to buy the can-do image. After all oil money does not belong to him.

    What saves Malaysia despite the known rampant corruption in government and GLCs is the fact that Malays have a ready first enemy in non-Malays. Until non-Malays are reduced significantly in two decades, UMNO has not problem to continue its current practice. Najib might think now that it might in fact be better to have 45% non-Malays rather than reducing them to 10% in the next two decades. He certainly cannot hope to bring back non-Malays who are now paying huge taxes to the countries they now reside; he can however drop NEP so that fewer Non-Malay would migrate. Besides without NEP, the birth rate of non-Malays might improve, making the drop-out percentages in schools among Non-Malays at par to that of Malays.

    Mamakthir wanted to limit the PM’s term to eight years, because he is not a PM, and his son might have a chance at it if he is not dead within the next 6 years.

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