Whether from the standpoint of justice, freedom, democracy, human rights, honest and good governance, Malaysia has gone backwards in the past four decades and there is an urgent need to give real and substantive meaning to "Kemederkaan" in all these spheres.
For instance, there is no full meaning of independence if there is no justice in Malaysia - as Malaysians do not want to exchange injustice perpetrated by foreign powers for an injustice perpetrated by local political leaders.
The injustices suffered by Lim Guan Eng, Anwar Ibrahim as well as others have opened the eyes of Malaysians to the growing gap between law and justice, and driven home the point that it is not enough to have courts of law unless they are courts of justice rather than courts of injustice.
Next month, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad would be declaring open the Commonwealth Law Conference on "Law and Society". I wonder how Mahathir could officiate at the opening of such an international conference on "Law and Society" when he has done more than any other individual in the 42-year Malaysian history to undermine public confidence in the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary.
In fact, I believe that the blatant travesties of justice in the Lim Guan Eng and Anwar Ibrahim cases would not have happened under the three previous Prime Ministers, who have greater respect and understanding of the Rukunegara principle of the rule of law.
It is precisely because Mahathir had been in office as Prime Minister for 18 years with uninterrupted two-thirds parliamentary majority - even getting five-sixth majority in the 1995 general election - which have created the political hegemony and culture of political arrogance that such travesties of justice can take place in Malaysia, bringing shame and dishonour to the nation in the international arena.
It is not only the system of justice which had been subverted in the
18 years of Mahathir rule, but all important institutions of government
and state as well, whether it be Parliament, the Attorney-Generalís Chambers,
the Police, the Anti-Corruption Agency, the Election Commission, the mass
The time has come for Malaysians to give full meaning to Merdeka in restoring and establishing justice, freedom, democracy, human rights, clean and good governance. In the next general election, the people must make it clear that Malaysia has achieved independence not to exchange oppression by foreign colonisers with oppression by local political rulers and break the political hegemony of the Barisan Nasional by ending its unbroken two-thirds parliamentary majority.