Hornbill Unleashed

June 19, 2012

What regime change must create

Filed under: Human rights,Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
Tags: , ,

William de Cruz

Behind the election stalemate gripping Malaysia is a Pakatan Rakyat government-in-waiting powered by an Islamist party that was once the font of paranoia and fear.

And for the first time, many Malaysians are willing to embrace such a historic opportunity, which only years ago would have been considered preposterous.

Anwar Ibrahim, the Pakatan prime minister-to-be, is now powerfully positioned to articulate a vision of a new Malaysia when – not if – today’s tripartite opposition becomes tomorrow’s government.

Political and financial scandals make for a wonderful arsenal, but Pakatan needs to wage peace and prosperity for Malaysians.

azlanFraming such a vision and articulating its policies clearly and repeatedly is now the job of the alternative government.

Between now and possibly till next April, by when premier Najib Abdul Razak is by constitutional mandate required to hold elections, PKR, the DAP and PAS must target the electoral divide to convince undecided voters and even BN supporters that a new Malaysia will not be scarred by a troubled reawakening of the national psyche and body politic.

PKR, DAP and PAS must together win over those who may yet stand unconvinced that a Pakatan electoral victory in GE13 will not usher in religious extremism, more racial division, violence, retribution and, by no means least, the economic malaise that all too often courts civil unrest and, if we may paraphrase the ever-alarmist and fear-mongering BN, regime change.

azlanAmid talk that secret research presented to BN shows a 55-year-old government probably retaining anything between 80 and 120 federal seats out of 222, these ‘swing’ voters can render unto Pakatan what is Pakatan’s, and Malaysia’s.

A clear and present danger in the minds of many Malaysians is the possibility that PAS will revert to fundamentalism once Pakatan unseats BN.

In a living room just outside Kuala Lumpur, a seasoned journalist says: “Malaysians need to see pictures of Kit Siang and Hadi Awang standing together and convincing people that Islamic extremism is not on the agenda.”

In a café in the heart of KL, the question of whether PAS will turn after Pakatan wins is tabled. An agitator for sweeping reform suggests that “PAS will want to be re-elected after GE13.”

In other words, PAS cannot afford to revert to its old ways if it wants to stay in government for the long haul.

Malaysians need to hear this from Pakatan, in no uncertain terms, and they need to keep hearing it like a mantra. Tackling this fear head-on is so vital, the journalist said, that Pakatan should issue a “policy template”, to which all its politicians must strictly adhere under pain of disciplinary action at party level, if not expulsion.

Becoming Malaysian again

Bridging the racial divide that took a life of its own under the tutelage of Dr Mahathir Mohamed should be almost as important as winning the election for Pakatan.

One searing afternoon recently, an ardent advocate of racial understanding suggested Pakatan “should tell the people” that, when it wins government, it will make Chinese manage affairs in a predominantly Malay constituency, send Malays to run an Indian area and so on…“so we begin to understand one another again”, she said.

NONEFor Pakatan, this would not set a precedent, but nothing could be more simple, or profound a strategy, if it were pushed further and deeper into the system so Malaysians may once again become simply Malaysian.

Mahathir deservedly rues the possibility that Anwar will treat him exactly like he treated his former DPM. However, Anwar would do well to measure the political expediency of some sort of amnesty for the small fish, who fear not only ouster from government but criminal prosecutions that will net and in all likelihood imprison their closest cronies, friends and family.

At street level, mitigating the fear of a sweeping purge that must run rampant among the rank and file of the police and military would be crucial to underpinning any promise of a peaceful transition of political power; ditto for the civil service.

But there are crimes, and then there are crimes, and justice must seen to be done for the worst cases.

In nearly any other truly democratic system, and to convey its message to the masses, Pakatan would have access to all media platforms, an unrestricted ability to campaign and the sort of taxpayer funding that an opposition is granted under parliamentary tenet.

But this is Malaysia, and the difficulties Pakatan faces in communicating its policies, ceramahs notwithstanding, therefore require that a new government must also bring about two vital changes to the political environment.

azlanFirst, it must extinguish all state involvement in the mass media. It must forever be unacceptable for any political party to have a financial stake in media organisations likeUtusan Malaysia, New Straits Times, Star, Berita Harian, national news agency Bernamaand RTM.

Political patronage and ownership of the mass media is simply untenable in any functioning democracy.

Second, Pakatan must guarantee by law that all political parties in a parliamentary opposition are sufficiently funded to function effectively as a check and balance to any future Malaysian government.

It is also imperative that Pakatan navigates the ideological chasm between itself and Bersih, the ever growing civil society movement whose only goal is thorough reform of an electoral system in which Malaysians have lost all confidence.

NONEPakatan and Bersih strengthen one another, but it is Bersih’s purity of purpose – electoral reform – that has allowed it to draw the support of Malaysians from across the political, racial and religious spectrums.

Bersih will forever stand independent of political parties, and so it should be, because Bersih has offered a priceless and novel opportunity in Malaysia – change of government by the will of the people.

Malaysians who have awakened to the power of a free and fair electoral system, and the very real likelihood of regime change just around the corner, will reserve the right to kick out any other government that does not meet the highest standards they shall demand of all politicians, and Pakatan will not be the exception.

WILLIAM DE CRUZ, who is based in Australia, is back home to vote.



  1. I have a little bit of thought about regime change, to share. It goes like this.

    For Sabah and Sarawak, there are 2 types of Opposition political narrative:

    1. Throw support behind PR unreservedly and then assume the PR government, with its “enlightened democracy” will fix Sarawak. This narrative is very simple. Write about how bad the Federal Government had been treating Sarawak, and how bad the individuals, and then magically made a statement that will be hunky dory in Sarawak once PR takes over. Vote for change, as the mantra would say, and all will be well. This type of writings are no different than speeches made during political campaign. It serve to sway votes among the public, into PR favor, but it might also turn off the intellectuals from believing in the cause when its too condenscending, by being too simplistic – from Sabah and Sarawak perspective.

    2. The second narrative, address what might happen, to Sabah and Sarawak position in the Federation – realistically, the day the PR takes over the mantle of power from the Federal Government. Most ardent supporters of the Opposition in Sarawak do not want to discuss this, because it discomfortingly challenge the promises made by PR against the reality of the Federation politics. For example, the promise of the 20% oil royalty — what does it really mean ? Won’t it be possible for the PR government to grant the 20% oil royalty, and then turn around , and reduce Federal Government allocation ? Even the PR Common Policy Framework to fully recognise the Malaysia Agreement 1963, may fail the test of feasibility when each terms are challenged through the existing gamut of rules in the Constitution, Judiciary and Legislative. Try it.

    I’m more interested in the second narrative.

    The prevailing position of colorful writers from Malaya is that a clean democracy – free of corruption, transparent, free, bla bla .. will be whats needed for Malaya AND Sabah and Sarawak. I think thats half the picture.

    If you take away the emotion, and see the underlying structure of the Malaysian Federation: the whole thing remains the same – even after PR takes over the Federal Government. Sarawak will still have 31 members of Parliamen,some of whom will be given a few insignificant Federal Minister portfolio. The engine will remain the same. The decision-making apparatus and structure that the BN used to make decisions for the nation, will be the same one that PR will be using.

    So, in the final analysis, will regime change (if it happens), be just another coat of paint for Sabah and Sarawak ? That, once the euphoria of the election win subside, Sabah and Sarawak will be left to rot again, under a PR government ? To put it bluntly: won’t a PR government be more interested to invest public money in another Merdeka Tower, MRT, dual-rail track ….. because gentlemen, we know that a hardnosed economics analysis will favour public spending in Kuala Lumpur that it would in Ulu Baram ?

    This is not to dampen the spirit of those who would shout halleluya whenever they read the typical narrative of Type 1 variety. What I’m suggesting to true Sarawakian patriot is not to get too giddy like the cavemen of Borneo who supposedly negotiated with Tunku Abdul Rahman and Lee Kuan Yew, but apparently were not match – and forgot, at that time, Malaysia could have been a ruse to suck their oil dry – and the British government were playing them to a beat.

    And I should say, I’m all for ABU. The trick is, in our own minds – as Sarawakian, we must define – whats in it for us in the new Malaysian order, and we must not be naively assuming that our competitors for Federal resources, will be so kind as to defer the scarce Federal public sector resource, figuratively speaking, to build that Kanowit – Kapit road in a year, out of the kindness of their heart ! If you are willing to pause, you will probably read Pak Bui’s article in a different light. You may even realise the need for Sabah and Sarawak to band together, to stake out a stronger position in the patchwork of Malaysian Federation, and make any regime change, a meaningful one for Sabah and Sarawak. If in our mind that the scenario (of a respected Sabah/Sarawak reps in Parliament) would fail anyway, then anon maybe right – that indeed it might be better to cut to the chase, and initiate a peaceful Independence movement.

    Comment by MERAMAT TAJAK — June 20, 2012 @ 9:33 AM | Reply

  2. It is time to let Pakatan Rakyat do the governing and see how well they perform and it is also time to let BN be an effective Opposition which I am sure they will not disappoint us in delivering a strong check and balance to Pakatan.

    Comment by SK Subramaniam — June 19, 2012 @ 7:47 PM | Reply

  3. History teaches us that no government, regime, absolute monarchy rule and even empire could survive for too long. At any period in the past these systems were ousted through various ways such as through ballot boxes, people’s revolts, invasions, etc. I don’t want to mention here the causes but BN regime should be well prepared to welcome GE13 result if it happens to exit BN from Putrajaya. No matter what will happen, please do not resort to a very harmful way like ‘ thirsty for bloodshed’ in order to stay in power. I have every reason to be worried as PM Najib did mention recently that BN has to protect Putrajaya at all possible costs. This is a rare statement coming out from a modern day leader who doesn’t care about democracy. He should have lived during barbaric period in ancient time. So, good luck PR and at least we have a choice!

    Comment by Baton — June 19, 2012 @ 4:19 PM | Reply


    Sabah natives protest Malayan rule

    Barely 25 kilometres away from where Prime Minister Najib was busy attending ‘staged’ functions in Sabah, about 500 protesters called for ‘independence’ for Sabah.

    KENINGAU: As Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak went about wooing support for his embattled government in this interior district of Sabah, he was kept blissfully unaware that the natives here are restless.
    Read more »

    Comment by anon — June 19, 2012 @ 3:15 PM | Reply

  5. Please watch this to understand why the regime BN must go:

    Comment by erwin — June 19, 2012 @ 1:58 PM | Reply

  6. If Pakatan takes over as the Government of the day, it will definitely not be easy. What with all the Head of various Depts being Pro-BN. Therefore its high time now for all these Head of Depts to walk a neutral line and work for the Rakyat. For BN if suddenly they become the Opposition, be gentlemen about it. Overhaul you organisation and play out your role as an effective Opposition.
    If the scenario of Pakatan winning the election do comes true it will be an eye opener in the sense that the Voters of Malaysia will know that the Voters have the power to ensure that the Government of the Day must Administer the Country for the benefit of the rakyat or else comes election time they can be topple.

    Comment by gagojackman — June 19, 2012 @ 11:24 AM | Reply

  7. 100 % unfilitered media.
    No Kill switch for internet.
    Transpanrency we can trust
    Open tender for all governmental projects.
    MACC, police, army that are 100% independent and free from politic.
    NO ISA or….. whatever it is called now.

    Comment by GPA — June 19, 2012 @ 10:05 AM | Reply

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