Yesterday, Dr. Mahathir lamented in Langkawi that "Malaysians do not practise democracy like it is done in the West because they continue to fight and engage in enmity even after elections are over".
Bernama quoted him as saying that in the West the society would close ranks after elections and the situation would return to what it was before the polls.
He said: "In the West, party politics is limited to strictly political matters and does not extend to social life" before breaking fast in Langkawi with the people at Masjid Al-Hana.
He said that In this country, the people seemed not interested in making up and closing ranks even after elections had been completed.
"We borrow democracy from the West but we do not practise it like they do," he said.
The question of how to get Malaysians to close ranks and promote national unity and progress should be regarded as the first single most challenge of the Cabinet as its first millennium meeting tomorrow, which is in fact its first substantive meeting since its formation on December 14 last year.
Dr. Mahathir had made a most pertinent point which should be a matter of grave concern for all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or political beliefs - why after the tenth general election, it seemed so difficult to get Malaysians to close ranks and put aside their political differences to promote the larger national good.
This is a subject which should not only engage the concern of the Cabinet tomorrow, but also all sectors of Malaysian society.
There are many causes for the unprecedented national disunity among
Malaysians at the start of the new millennium, and I will regard the following
as some of the most important ones:
I write this Open Letter on the ten issues which the Cabinet at its first millennium meeting tomorrow should give priority focus to restore national unity, strength and resilience so that Malaysia can compete with the rest of the world in the new millennium, not in terms of having the tallest building, longest bridge or most grandiose Prime Ministerís complex, but in terms of a great people fully developed in terms of sustainable economic development, participatory democracy, achievements in all areas of human endeavour and a vibrant civil society.
The ten issues which should be the priority concern of the Cabinet tomorrow are:
1. Royal Commission on National Unity
A Royal Commission on National Unity should be formed which should include representatives from various political parties, religions and the civil society to draw up a Blueprint for National Unity for the next two decades.
It should not be a creature of the government-of-the-day or another version of His Masterís Voice but really independent which could address all causes of national disunity, including the adverse effects of the recent dirtiest general election in the nationís history on nation building.
2. Promote Democracy
Establish a Commission For Democracy to propose an action plan for the expansion of democratic space for Malaysians, including the repeal of repressive and draconian laws which curtail human rights and fundamental liberties.
3. Legalise the meetings of Tenth Parliament
The Cabinet should urgently set up a Cabinet Committee to consider how to legalise meetings of the Tenth Parliament elected on Nov. 29, 1999. As the first meeting of the new tenth Parliament on December 20, 1999 was not convened in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and parliamentary standing orders, all Parliamentary meetings whether in December or in the next five years would be infected by illegality.
The Dewan Rakyat would meet for 32 days from 14th February to 5th April 2000 to debate the Royal Address and pass the 2000 Budget, but unless the tenth Parliament is convened in accordance with the constitution, the 2,000 Budget and all bills and businesses adopted by the tenth Parliament could be challenged as being null and void and therefore unlawful.
4. Parliamentary Reforms
Wide-ranging reforms of parliamentary practices and procedures to transform
the Malaysian Parliament from a nineteenth-century institution into a millennium
Parliament, with reforms such as:
5. Restore Independence of Judiciary and public confidence in the rule of law
6. War against corruption
Create a new political culture with zero tolerance for corruption -
7. Democratise the Election Commission
Overhaul the entire electoral system to provide Constitutional safeguards
to ensure appointment of independent and responsible Election Commission
members whose mandate would be to conduct free, fair and clean elections.
All undemocratic features and regulations of the electoral system should be removed, including the systematic cleansing of the electoral register to eliminate phantom voters.
8. Form a Parliamentary Audit Commission
The Parliamentary Audit Commission should have the two-fold terms of reference to ensure that Ministers carry out their duties efficiently and responsibily as hands-on Ministers and that MPs discharge their parliamentary responsibilities to cut down the very high rate of parliamentary truancy by Members of Parliament.
To enable the public to monitor Ministers and MPs, the government should make public the 14-point code of ethics which was announced by the Prime Minister to Ministers at the first Cabinet meeting on December 15, 1999.
9. End Politics of Spite, Vindictiveness and Persecution
To arrest the politics of spite, vindictiveness and persecution which had poisoned the wells of Malaysian body politic and nation-building, the Cabinet should take bold steps to withdraw all charges against the former Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as well as fully restore the civic and political rights of former DAP MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Guan Eng.
10. Inter-Religious Council
Establish an Inter-Religious Council to promote inter-religious understanding and goodwill as well as develop Malaysia into an international centre for the worldís great religions and civilizations.