As a first step, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad should publicly retract his statement during his pre-election visit to Selangor last Monday that the Malaysian Chinese Associations’ Election Demands was a "threat" to the Barisan Nasional, that the Malaysian Chinese Associations should not to try to pressure the government, as the Barisan Nasional only wanted "unconditional support from the people".
At the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, both the Prime Minister and the Cabinet should reaffirm the right of all sectors of Malaysian society to make clear their demands about their political, economic, social and educational aspirations with the approach of general election and such a reaffirmation should be announced in a post-Cabinet media conference.
The demand by any political party or leader wanting only "unconditional support from the people" during an election is most undemocratic and irresponsible, making an utter mockery of the purpose of an election, which is an occasion for the voters to renew their political mandate by subjecting the various political parties and candidates seeking election to scrutiny of their past record and future pledges.
It is to counter such an undemocratic spirit and approach that democracy-conscious
and justice loving Malaysians have formulated the "People are the Boss!"
Declaration, which states in its preamble:
"When anti-colonialism and nationalism movements swept across the world in the mid-century, their very conviction was to reinforce the status of people as masters, not to remain as slaves to be handed over from foreign conquerors to domestic tyrants.
"It is sad to say that 42 years after the country’s independence the ‘people-masters’ concept has gained little ground. What fill our ears are fallacies, as exemplified by remarks such as ‘People have to be grateful to the government’, ‘Government-run media are the exclusive propaganda apparatus for the ruling party’ and ‘There will be no development for constituencies that vote in the opposition’.
"These utterances not only mirror arrogance on the part of the politicians but also indifference of the people. And, these attitudes are the root cause to many of our country’s problems nowadays: people’s daily livelihood problems going unattended, communities deprived of development, focus of national issues being shifted on to a racist or religious platform, and even unnecessary loss of human lives and properties.
"Fools do not beget wise men. People must first come to an awareness of what is going on around them, and what they really want, before they demand progress. We would like to call upon all Malaysians to insist on their right and dignity. Whichever party you may support, this message has to be communicated to the political parties and politicians loud and clear : ‘People are the boss!’"
In presenting the "People-Master" concept, the "People Are
the Boss" Declaration said:
"Let us compare our country to a company. The people are the boss, and each citizen is a shareholder. The government is the management. People who hold public offices are staff members and not the boss. The salaries of the civil servants and the expenses of the Government are all paid for with the hard-earned money of each and every citizen.
"Therefore, it is only right for the government to serve the interest of the people. We, as the boss, have the right to criticize the government. As the management appointed by the people, the government has to respect the public’s wishes; there is no way could it ‘threaten’ or ‘penalize’ its bosses.
"Election is the Selection Process for a New Management. Each government is appointed for a five-year term. The office of government is vacated when the five-year term expires or when the parliament is dissolved by royal decree on the advice of the current government.
"Election is the time for the people, as the boss, to vet the candidates and appoint the new management for the country. All voters are shareholders with voting rights. Voters are absolutely free to decide whether they want to retain the current management, or to appoint a new one. Once the office of government is vacated, the ruling party functions only as a ‘care-taker government’.
"The manager of the company should not use shareholders’ money to promote himself or to advance his personal cause; likewise, the ‘care-taker government’ should not misuse national resources to promote itself so as to enhance its chance of being re-elected."
The Cabinet at its meeting on Wednesday should not only address the 17-Point Petitition of Hua Tuan but should also endorse the "People Are the Boss" Declaration.
Liong Sik’s comments on the Hua Tuan Petition, however, are very disturbing and the MCA leadership should ensure that it does not render the Hua Tuan petitition meaningless.
For instance, although Liong Sik said that the matters brought up in the Hua Tuan petition "touched on universal values" and had the consensus of most people and the MCA recognised many of the points raised, "However, as some of them are long-term goals, the question is which forum and in what circumstances (would be appropriate) to discuss them".
As example, Liong Sik said that there would come a time when the Internal Security Act would not be needed. However, this would not be possible for now.
It would be most unfortunate if the MCA leadership has decided on the tactics of appearing to give support to the Hua Tuan petition in principle, but opposing the actual implementation of the detailed proposals of the 17-point petition in practice.
What Malaysians want is the repeal of the Internal Security Act now, and not in some distant future of say 100 or 200 years!
The third point of the Hua Tuan petition is to "Uphold human rights and justice", which made seven specific demands, i.e. to ratify all the international covenants and United Nations Conventions; extend the powers of the Malaysian Human Rights Commission to ensure that it is truly independent and representative; ensure the judiciary and the office of the Attorney-General are truly independent; repeal the Internal Security Act; enact a Freedom of Information Act; amend the Trade Union Act, the Sedition Act, the Printing Presses and Publications Act, the Police Act and the Universities and University Colleges Act to bring them into line with human rights standards; and protect the freedom of speech, assembly and association.
It is meaningless for the MCA leadership to say that they support in principle the Hua Tuan’s 17-point petition call to "uphold human rights and justice" but it is not prepared to support anyone of the seven concrete proposals in practice on the ground that the time and conditions are not ripe now for the implementation, but may be in a century or so!