(Kuala Lumpur, Wednesday): The imprisonment of DAP Deputy Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Guan Eng for defending the honour, human rights and women’s rights of an underaged 15-year-old girl and the "black eye" of former Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, as a result of police assault while under police custody are the most eloquent reasons why Malaysians are crying out for justice and why it is necessary for the DAP to launch the "Justice For All" campaign.
The "Justice For All" campaign, however, is not just about Guan Eng or Anwar Ibrahim, but about the rights of 21 million Malaysians to political, economic, educational, legal, social, religious and cultural justice.
It is an opportunity for Malaysians to wipe out the national and international stain of rampant injustices in Malaysia by exercising their democratic right to demand for changes in our system of governance.
It is in keeping with this larger objective in mind that DAP calls on the Barisan Nasional government to fully respect all cultural sensitivities in multi-racial Malaysia and to immediately rescind the Kuala Lumpur City Hall directive to stop burials at the Kuala Lumpur Kwangtung Cemetry.
It is testimony of the lack of justice, freedom, democracy and good governance that the unelected Datuk Bandar of Kuala Lumpur, Tan Sri Kamaruzzaman Shariff could in a letter dated Dec. 22 last year order the closure of one of the oldest and biggest cemetries in the country without any proper consultation with the cemetry committee or the families who have relatives buried there.
It would appear that nothing has been learnt by the authorities over the great national controversy 15 years ago arising from the Malacca State Government’s ill-advised and undemocratic attempt to demolish the oldest and most historic cemetry hill in Malaysia - Bukit China, which was stopped only after nation-wide protests in support of the Save Bukit China Campaign.
The insensitivity of the Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur on the Kwangtung Cemetry issue highlights the failings of a nominated system of local government and reinforces the argument that Malaysia should reintroduce local government elections to give the ratepayers a direct say at the local government level.
Malaysia had elected local government for the first seven years of national independence from 1957 to 1964, which was suspended on the ground of national emergency arising from Indonesian Confrontation.
The Indonesian Confrontation ended in 1966, but local government elections was never held for the past 35 years on the ground that elected local government was open to corruption and abuses of power.
The 35-year record of nominated local government has shown that this is a system which is even more vulnerable to abuses of power, especially as there is no way the ratepayers can exercise a salutary check-and-balance role which is to be found in regular local government elections, where councillors have to seek a renewal of their mandate from the ratepayers.
The time has come for the restoration of local government elections to revive grassroots democracy in Malaysia with meaningful local participation in local government.
This morning, the "Justice For All" campaign was launched in the Bukit Bintang constituency at Jalan Petaling, as the DAP wants to see the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur in general and the parliamentary constituency of Bukit Bintang in particular provide political leadership in the national movement for justice, freedom, democracy and good governance.
The "Justice For All" campaign should not only be taken to the various states in the country, it should be taken to the various parliamentary and state constituencies as well as the towns, new villages, kampongs, estates and even Felda schemes.
As part of the campaign to mobilise and galvanise Malaysians to express their deep and profound disapproval of rampant injustices in Malaysia despite previous Barisan Nasional government slogans of ABC, "clean, efficient and trustworthy" (amanah, berseh, cekap) and "People Friendly", and to demand for wide-ranging reforms in the system of governance in Malaysia, the DAP will also launch a nation-wide mass membership campaign to enlist Malaysians in the cause for justice, freedom, democracy and good governance.