Call on Mahathir to convene an all-party conference on democratisation so that Malaysia will not lag behind other Asian countries in political reforms affecting our economic turnaround and recovery

- when launching the 
Lim Guan Eng Support Group

by Lim Kit Siang  

(Pudu, KL, Saturday): The last few days saw momentous  political developments in Indonesia when what was completely unthinkable only a few weeks ago suddenly  happened - the forced resignation of Suharto as Indonesian President after 32 years of autocratic rule, less than three months after he was re-elected to a seventh five-year term when he declared his intention to serve out his full term till 2,003.

Indonesia now has B.J. Habibie as the new third President but the battle for political reforms and democratisation in Indonesia has just started.  The resignation of Suharto only marks the first major step forward in a struggle which has still a long road to be traversed, especially as many Indonesians do not see Habibie as part of the solution for the Indonesian crisis but like Suharto, part of the problem.

What is important about Indonesian developments is that Indonesia has finally embarked on the road of political reforms and democratisation although the future is still fraught with great difficulties and challenges.

This leaves Malaysia as the only country worst hit by the Asian economic turmoils in the past one year still resisting the need for political reforms and democratisation, with the country's political leadership refusing to recognise the  fundamental issue that in the final analysis, an economic crisis is a political crisis and that there can be no effective economic changes without far-reaching political reforms and democratisation.

South Korea and Thailand are undergoing political reforms and greater democratisation.  Thailand for instance has promulgated a new Constitution with a clear commitment to fight corruption at high-level political and government circles, but there is woefully a lack of such commitment in Malaysia despite the passage of a new Anti-Corruption Act in Parliament last year.  As a result, Malaysia's Asian ranking on corruption perception index has slipped further recently - which should be a matter of grave concern for all Malaysians serious about wanting to develop a new political culture of integrity with zero tolerance for corruption among political and public officials.
Malaysia is not the worst hit of the Asian countries as the economies of  Thailand, South Korea and Indonesia have suffered more than the Malaysian economy, but in refusing to acknowledge the need for  wide-ranging political, economic and financial reforms, Malaysia may lag behind other countries in economic turnaround and recovery.

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad should convene an all-party conference on democratisation so that Malaysia will not lag behind other Asian countries in political reforms affecting our economic turnaround and recovery.

Malaysians are entitled to justice, freedom, democracy and good governance without which there can be no solid basis to unite the government, society and people into one unit to respond to the worst economic crisis affecting the country.

If there is justice, freedom, democracy and good governance, the injustice of Lim Guan Eng would not have happened, where a Member of Parliament who conscientiously and diligently went to the defence of a 15-year-old underaged girl to protect her honour, human rights and women rights is being jailed for 36 months while the accused gets away scotfree.

The Lim Guan Eng case concerns not just Guan Eng alone, but all Malaysians, as it is not only Guan Eng who is on trial, the whole nation is on trial in the eyes of the world.

The  Lim Guan Eng Support Group fights for justice, not only for Lim Guan Eng, but for all Malaysians, demanding that justice, freedom, democracy and good governance should be the rights of all Malaysians.


*Lim Kit Siang - Malaysian Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Democratic Action Party Secretary-General & Member of Parliament for Tanjong