The hands behind Malaysia’s false spring

By Dr Lim Teck Ghee | 25 November 2011

To most of the country’s independent political observers, it is very clear now. With the unveiling of the new proposed law restricting our right to peaceful assembly and protest, the Malaysian public has been taken for a ride on the promise of political liberalization and reform made by the Prime Minister on the eve of Malaysia Day this year.

What is the explanation for the apparent turnaround in Najib Razak’s initial plan unveiled on 15 September this year to abandon earlier draconian and repressive legislation and to improve our civil liberties?

Is it that there was really no enlightened plan but in fact a calculated and cynical move aimed at strangling the right to peaceful assembly – a potential game changer in the country’s political dynamics – whilst holding out crumbs of comfort that the government is being sincere about political liberalization on less important fronts?

If so, the Prime Minister must be congratulated on producing academy award performances not on just one occasion but for an entire two-month period in which he consistently extolled the merit of the Barisan Nasional moves to advance civil liberties and good governance in the country when plotting the exact opposite.

Even as late as today the Prime Minister continues to praise the new bill on Peaceful Assembly as a “revolutionary” law and a “giant leap” towards improving individual freedom. He must be the only person in the country to believe that the country will experience a quantum improvement in our basic freedom of assembly with the passing of the new law.

If he is deaf to the overwhelming opposition to the proposed new law coming from all quarters, this coming year’s international assessments on the country’s civil liberties record will be salutary in reminding the Prime Minister that the country’s ranking on civil liberties and his own reputation for honesty have taken an enormous beating from this cynical attempt to kill off political dissent under the guise of improving the law pertaining to the right to assembly.

Were there other forces at work that may have compelled the Prime Minister to engage in this astonishing political turnaround?

If the Prime Minister is not the main actor of this political deception, is it the work of right wing Umno leaders such as Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his son Mukhriz, the Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, Ibrahim Ali as well as Najib’s ambitious cousin, the Home Affairs Minister who have pushed him to this unprecedented flip- flopping on political liberalization?

Whichever hands finally prevailed on this obnoxious bill now being debated in Parliament, their mission is clear: to prevent the same exercise of the freedom of peaceful assembly and dissent that are toppling similar authoritarian regimes elsewhere in the world in the hope that they can buy for themselves a longer lease of authoritarian rule and unchecked power in Malaysia.

  1. #1 by Bigjoe on Friday, 25 November 2011 - 4:06 pm

    The whole so called removal of ISA is a microsm of Najib’s entire administration and in fact is the REAL MANTRA of his administration – It isn’t 1Malaysia, it isn ‘Transformation’, etc. Its the ‘bait-and-switch’. Look back and you will realise, his entire administration is about that. Its just one scam after another.

    BUT the fact that this admnistration main modus operandi is scamming is not what is most worrying. What should give us sleepness nights is the fact, they believe its a LEGITIMATE form of administration – they believe they can run a country simply by scamming its people. Their political inbreeding over the years have damage their minds to think it actually is normal and how things work not simply just a degenerative disease.

    The collective degeneration of UMNO/BN is now no longer symptomatic but a full blown epidemic.

  2. #2 by monsterball on Friday, 25 November 2011 - 7:50 pm

    Who will loose more than PM…when BN is defeated at 13th GE?
    Coincidentally…Burmese government has passed a Bill…allowing Burmese to protest at streets….allowing more freedom.
    Here..Government is restricting Malaysians and doing the opposite.

  3. #3 by Not spoon fed on Friday, 25 November 2011 - 9:34 pm

    When Mahathir took over as prime minister, he first marginalised sultans and agong first and keep them out of Malaysian politics. The reason, those sultans are the traders since hundreds years ago.

    So, when sultans all have no power in politics, Mahathir took over the national trade, tendres, and everything including implementing Official Secret Act. So no one could question him.

    Then he gave out mega projects tenders award to his cronies, those UMNOputras. The story goes on….

    The Putrajaya is also built by a group of UMNO datuks….

  4. #4 by yhsiew on Saturday, 26 November 2011 - 6:29 am

    Putrajaya has underestimated the rakyat’s intelligence. By contrasting Malaysia’s Peaceful Assembly Bill with the Protest Bill of Myanmar, the rakyat know they have been fooled by Najib.

  5. #5 by Bigjoe on Saturday, 26 November 2011 - 7:54 am

    A suggestion to PAS: IF Najib does not withdraw the bill, PAS should organise Bersih 3.0 on the EVE or DURING UMNO upcoming’s GA..

  6. #6 by Godfather on Saturday, 26 November 2011 - 8:02 am

    These are the hands that say “We haven’t stolen enough yet”.

  7. #7 by Godfather on Saturday, 26 November 2011 - 8:06 am

    The same hands that say “If Shahrizat’s family is allowed to do what they did to NFC, so can we……”

  8. #8 by yhsiew on Saturday, 26 November 2011 - 8:37 am

    Bersih 3.0 will give rise to true spring.

  9. #9 by negarawan on Saturday, 26 November 2011 - 8:50 am

    The image that Najip Razak and his UMNO counterparts conjure is that of greedy liars

  10. #10 by Jeffrey on Saturday, 26 November 2011 - 8:56 am

    Answer to your last 2 questions is affirmative. Numero Ono tries delicate balancing and juggling between rakyat demands for political liberalization/transformation on one hand and demands of his own party warlords/members looking to him to preserve UMNO’s power and its traditional patronage system based on race./religion on which they absolutely depend/rely for good but short life on this earth! So he relies on professional image consultants – either allegedly Israeli-linked APCO or scandal-ridden FBC Media- at huge costs to taxpayers to try improve (massage) govt/ountry’s image abroad and domestically.

  11. #11 by Jeffrey on Saturday, 26 November 2011 - 8:57 am

    (Continuing) These western orientated consultants surely will advise improving liberal democratic image – that’s mantra to sell political product based on commercial advertising & promotion precepts of good “packaging” of mediocre or defective product to restive constituents (awakened by Arab or whatever Spring) to get their “business” ie votes. But this image grooming alone can’t change frog to prince : outward appearance yes, DNA – no – but hopefully, so he reckons, image improvement from outward appearances will hopefully secure return of voting support lost in 308 without conceding, in substance/reality, actual political control, so as to assuage, on the other hand, concerns and insecurities of his party warlords/members, pressuring him to regain 2/3 control to consolidate the party’s hold on power for next 50 years. Critics call the balancing and image tinkering, a scam.

  12. #12 by k1980 on Saturday, 26 November 2011 - 10:52 am

    the law was unconstitutional and “makes a mockery of our democratic values”.

    “It is clear that the real intention of Najib and his government is to make it as difficult and burdensome as possible for the people to peacefully assemble”

  13. #13 by dagen on Saturday, 26 November 2011 - 11:04 am

    Hoi cintanegara when you marry your next wife remember to serve the police the 30days notice before your procession (of friends and family members and and the kompang guys too) hits the public road. Alternatively, they may have to keep a 10m clear distance of each other and to refrain from communicating and talking with each other (just rely on bluetooth if necessary, ok?)

    Ni dia demokrasi yg paling best di dunia.

  14. #14 by jus legitimum on Saturday, 26 November 2011 - 11:32 am

    Ambiga must launch Bersih 3.0 as soon as possible.That is the only way forward now.

  15. #15 by monsterball on Saturday, 26 November 2011 - 5:26 pm

    You all talk about Mahathir..comments approved.
    I talk…all moderated.
    Cintanegara marry again?
    His rambutan tree is dying….no extra income…how to feed one more mouth?

  16. #16 by mybaru1 on Monday, 28 November 2011 - 2:29 am

    Father of Corruption, Cronyism, Nepotism, & Decadence……..

    Mahathir’s UMNO-BN 22 years of dictatorial, tyrannical & oppressive reign of evil regime was widely known and well-documented as the era of excessive opulence and extravagant decadence.

    This era of rampant and endemic corruption resulted in the pervasive-evil system whereby government servants comprising of ministers in the cabinet, top and high-ranking Govt. officials and the evasive UMNO warlords and cronies, in the 2mil. civil service Govt. employees, are simultaneously and covertly holding outright positions in the corporate world as directors, in public-listed companies and other related businesses, when they have NO BLOODY business to be involved in, as per their contract in the government service.

    The shocking revelation is that all their family members and relatives are appointed as nominees and directors in the aforementioned businesses.

    To complicate matters and permeate the problem more complicitly, is the involvement of the royalty and monarchs and sultans in businesses in the corporate world.

    The evil business of largesse and patronage unforgivably breeds nothing but contempt and disgust from the Rakyat.

    So the logical and rational thing to do when Pakatan Rakyat takes over the helm of governing the country, the first priority is to nationalize all the criminal acts and illegal wrong-doings by the UMNO-BN elites.

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