Mahathirís advice to Musharraf to restore democracy in Pakistan would have greater credibility if Malaysia is set on the course of greater democratisation rather than  the reverse

- Penang DAP Wanita dinner on 
"Women's Role in Democracy, Justice and Good Governance"
Lim Kit Siang

(Penang, Friday): The recent advice by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad to the Pakistani military ruler, General Pervez  Musharraf to restore democracy in Pakistan would have greater credibility if Malaysia is set on the course of greater democratisation rather than the reverse.

In the four months after the tenth general election on November 29, 1999, Mahathir has turned back the clock of Malaysian democracy in the various repressive actions taken by the Barisan Nasional government violating democratic freedoms and human rights in Malaysia.

Firstly, the government showed utter contempt for the Malaysian  Constitution, Parliament, the Yang di Pertuan Agong when he convened the first meeting of Parliament without complying with Constitutional requirements.

Next, he launched a new round of reprisals against dissent  with the arrest and prosecution of Opposition leaders including DAP National Deputy Chairman, Karpal Singh, Parti Keadilan Nasional leaders Marina Yusuf and Mohd Ezam and the editor of Harakah Zulkifli Sulong using draconian laws like the Sedition Act and the Official Secrets Act.

This was followed by a new clampdown on already very limited freedom of expression and the press when the printing permit of Harakah was slashed from a biweekly into a bimonthly and the independent-minded magazine Detik banned.

During this period, public confidence in the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary and the administration of justice suffered a series of new batterings, particularly in the lenient treatment of the former Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Rahim Noor for nearly assaulting a defenceless, blindfolded and handcuffed former Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to an inch of his life in Bukit Aman lock-up on Sept. 20, 1998.

The Police have also become more intolerant of the fundamental rights of the people to freedom of assembly and peaceful protest, even on basic social issues like the right to affordable housing before being thrown out into the streets as in the case of the unconsionable rent decontrol process.

Malaysians are also seeing the politics of hatred and vendetta as practised by the Malacca Chief Minister, Datuk Mohd Ali Rustam which goes against the very grain of democratic spirit and principle.

Horror of horrors, Barisan Nasional politics have also descended to new lows of vulgarity and indecency when the "lewd" gestures of the Pahang Mentri Besar, Datuk Adnan Yaakob in the Sanggang by-election find endorsement and defence by the entire top Barisan Nasional leadership.

Before Mahathir can convincingly preach democracy to other countries, he should first start the process of restoration of democracy and political decency  in Malaysia.  Better still, Malaysia should try to be a model democracy instead of a model authoritarian state for developing countries.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman