Archive for category democracy

Shahrir should state his stand on the disruption of the Pakatan Harapan programme in Kg Bakar Batu in Johor Baru last night

It is most regrettable that a Pakatan Harapan programme in Kampong Bakar Batu in the Johor Baru parliamentary constituency last night for the DAP State Assemblyman for Stulang, Andrew Chen Kah Eng, the Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) Johor Secretary and former three-term Assemblyman for Kempas, Datuk Osman Sapian, and the PKR Johor Information Chief, Akmal Nasir, AMANAH Johore Baru deputy chairman Muadz Jamaluddin and myself to meet and dialogue with the people in the area had been disrupted and cancelled.

If this had happened 50 and 60 years ago, it would not have been surprising.

But for such a regrettable event to happen 61 years after the achievement of Merdeka in 1957 and thirteen General Elections had been held in Malaysia shows that to some people in the country, the spirit and commitment to parliamentary democracy is very skin deep. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia is already the butt of jokes of Africans for our global kleptocracy, let us not be another African butt of jokes for our democracy

Malaysians have two objectives in the forthcoming 14th General Elections.

Firstly, for Malaysia to mature to become a normal democracy and secondly, to save the nation from the infamy and ignominy of being regarded worldwide as a global kleptocracy.

The Pakatan Harapan parties of DAP, PKR, AMANAH and Bersatu are fully committed to the ballot box as the sole avenue for political and democratic change. The 14GE will be the 12th general elections for the DAP in over five decades and the history and record of the DAP is unswerving commitment to the democratic and constitutional process to effect political change.

The real question at issue in the 14GE is whether Najib and UMNO are equally committed to see Malaysia mature as a normal democracy where change of the federal government through the ballot box is accepted as a healthy democratic process and not one to invite threats of violence, bloodshed, chaos, riots or coups. Read the rest of this entry »

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30th Anniversary of Ops Lalang mass arrests – call on Malaysians to unite to save democracy, the rule of law, human rights and to eradicate corruption and kleptocracy

Today marks the 30th anniversary of Operation Lalang which brought about the darkest days for democracy and human rights.

There was not only the arrest of 106 Malaysians, including opposition leaders – 16 of whom were from the DAP, including MPs and State Assemblymen – trade unionists, social activists, environmentalists, Chinese educationists and religious workers, there was also the wholesale attacks on press freedom with the closure of three newspapers, the assault on the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law and the series of undemocratic legislation which caused a tectonic shift in the Malaysian political landscape, subordinating the legislative and judicial branches to the Executive.

Operation Lalang in 1987 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 but sprang back not only to recover lost ground and to achieve new democratic breakthroughs as in the 13th General Election when 52% of popular vote sought the first change of national government but the people were denied the fruits of democratic victory because of undemocratic gerrymandering of parliamentary constituencies. Read the rest of this entry »

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Democracy in Southeast Asia: A Conversation Between Michael Vatikiotis and Bridget Welsh

ASEAN Studies Program
The Habibie Center
Jakarta

[Journey through the ebbs and flows of democracy in ASEAN via a conversation between Michael Vatikiotis, a veteran journalist and writer living in Singapore, and Dr. Bridget Welsh, who is a Senior Associate Fellow of the Habibie Center in Jakarta. Their conversation on the state of democracy in Southeast Asia traces the history of the push for democracy in the different countries of the region, current challenges and future prospects. (This article is first published in special issue.)]

Michael Vatikiotis is a writer and journalist living in Singapore. After training as a journalist with the BBC in London, he moved to Asia and was a correspondent and then editor of the Far Eastern Economic Review. He has written two novels set in Indonesia.

Dr. Bridget Welsh is a Senior Research Associate at the Center for East Asia Democratic Studies of the National Taiwan University; a Senior Associate Fellow of the Habibie Center in Jakarta; and a University Fellow of Charles Darwin University in Darwin, Australia. She analyzes Southeast Asian politics, especially Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, and Indonesia.

Bridget Welsh (BW): Michael, why don’t you begin. Where do you think the state of democracy is in the region?

Michael Vatikiotis (MV): Well, if you take a glass half-full approach, then I suppose you would look at the long arch of history of democracy over the last 40 years. I argue that in many countries of Southeast Asia there has been a gradual improvement in the forms of governments that have begun to look more and more institutionally like functioning democracies.

So to break that down, you have of course a wave of democratization that began with the People’s Power revolution in the Philippines in mid-1980s which was itself an outgrowth of Portugal’s Carnation Revolution in the mid-1970s that sparked what Samuel Huntington called the ‘third wave of democratization.’ This eventually reached the shores of Southeast Asia and manifested itself initially in left wing movements, student disruptions and protests in mid 1970s. Thailand saw a crackdown on student movements that led to people fleeing into the jungle and joining the communist insurgency. Similarly in Indonesia, there was the Malari incident which led to a crackdown on campus politics. In Malaysia too, there was a student agitation in the mid-1970s. By the early 80s things had come to a head in the Philippines with the implementation of martial law, the corruption of Marcos’ rule and the deep sense of unease that many people felt because of the way that they were treated by Marcos, either arrested, detained or worse. In 1983, with the murder of Benigno Aquino as he stepped out of a plane from Taiwan at Manila Airport, these finally weld up into a massive popular protest.

At the time I was a young journalist in BBC. I remember covering it from London, and it was a very exciting time, especially the whole notion of ‘people’s power.’ This was well before any of the colored revolutions that have taken place in this century. This was before the end of Cold War. It was also the very first time that CNN had covered this sort of story so far away with live camera shots of the protests. There was a sense that nothing like this had really happened before in postcolonial Southeast Asia. It was shown and reported in a very vivid manner and it also very quickly brought an end to very despotic ruler. Within a matter of weeks Ferdinand Marcos was on a plane to Hawaii.

As a side note, I think it was also very important time because up until the mid-1980s, the United States and other Western powers firmly back autocratic regimes because they were anti-communist. This changed with the ‘people’s power’ revolution on the streets of Manila. The color of the revolution was yellow, not red. You had this mild-mannered widow of Benigno Aquino who took over. She was not threatening. She didn’t seem to be communist. This allowed the United States and other Western powers to embrace a popular revolution without having to abandon their sort of anti-communist credentials. There was a sense of relief that they didn’t have to support an autocrat, because he was anti-communist. Read the rest of this entry »

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