Former Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad said yesterday that democracy in the country is dead.
Mahathir is exaggerating though there is no doubt that the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak would shed no tears to kill democracy and even launch a bigger “Operation Lalang 2015” than Mahathir’s 1987 Operation to save his political life.
Mahathir’s Operation Lalang in 1987, which unleashed a multi-faceted assault on democracy, human rights and the independence, impartiality and professionalism of key national institutions involving the Press, Parliament, Judiciary, key agencies like the Police, the anti-corruption agency, the election commission, the universities, entire civil service, brought the fragile plant of Malaysian democracy to the brink of ruin and disaster.
But Malaysian resilience, the spirit and love for freedom, justice and the nation, did not wilt or capitulate to Mahathir’s iron-fisted policies, but sprang back not only to recover lost ground during the Mahathir decades, but to achieve new democratic breakthroughs as in the 13th General Election when 52% of popular vote sought the first change of national government with new Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, but the people were denied the fruits of democratic victory because of undemocratic gerrymandering of parliamentary constituencies.
Democracy in Malaysia is facing another crisis, and undoubtedly an even bigger one than under Mahathir’s premiership.
Malaysia is in the midst of another round of intensive attacks on democracy, human rights and the independence, impartiality and professionalism of key national institutions, which have not yet fully recovered from the first round of assaults on the institutions in the Mahathir era.
The blocking of Sarawak Report website, the three-month suspension of The Edge Weekly and the Edge Financial Daily; the sacking of the Attorney-General, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister for Rural and Regional Development; the assault on Parliament by the sabotage of Public Accounts Committee (PAC) investigations into the 1MDB; the scuppering of the multi-agency Special Task Force on 1MDB scandal and the RM2.6 billion deposits in the Prime Minister’s personal accounts; the “nine days of madness in Putrajaya” marked by police arrests and interrogation of MACC officers and most lately the immediate transfer of two MACC directors out of MACC to the Prime Ministers’ Office are all milestones of this second wave of attacks on democracy and national institutions in Malaysia.
It has not been all smooth-sailing for the advocates of hardline response in the Najib camp to the 1MDB and RM2.6 billion scandals, like the cancellation this morning of the punitive transfer orders to the two MACC directors to the Prime Minister’s Office because of widespread negative responses from all sectors of society (including among UMNO members), but the offensive against democracy and human rights in general and the national institutions in particular have not run its course.
This can be discerned from Mahathir’s forecast that Bank Negara governor Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz will be the next to be investigated after the assaults on the MACC.
Why have senior public servants, like the former Attorney-General who had served three Prime Ministers for nearly 13 years or the Bank Negara Governor who has recently been described as “an icon of integrity, brilliance and professionalism who stands for the very best our nation has to offer” whom Malaysia desperately needs “to help navigate Malaysia out of the troubled economic times ahead”, are suddenly looked askance by the powers-that-be and even suspected of being “traitors” involved in an international plot to topple the elected government of Malaysia?
In such a hot-house atmosphere artificially generated in the top reaches of government over the so-called “international conspiracy” to topple Najib as the elected Prime Minister, the administration seems to find a national enemy or traitor behind every bush and stone, as if traitors are crawling all over the key national positions, in particular in three of the four agencies which had constituted the Special Task Force investigating 1MDB and RM2.6 billion deposits – the Attorney-General Chambers, Bank Negara Malaysia and MACC.
I call on Najib to end this “madness” which is evidence of the most fractured government in the nation’s history and for a return of sanity to the highest counsels of of the nation – starting with the Cabinet meeting tomorrow.
Or is this halt of the “madness” which had engulfed the highest reaches of government and a return to sanity in the affairs of the state complete beyond Najib’s powers and capabilities?
[Speech (1) at the DAP Perlis State Committee sixth anniversary celebrations DAP Perlis branch representatives in Kangar on Monday, 10th August 2015 at 8 pm]