To All Cabinet Ministers: Ten  issues which should top the agenda of the first millennium Cabinet meeting tomorrow to restore national unity among Malaysians afer the dirtiest election in the nationís history


Open Letter
-
to Cabinet Ministers for their first millennium meeting 
by
Lim Kit Siang 

(Petaling Jaya,  Tuesday):  In his millennium message, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad called on Malaysians to close ranks and set aside differences to face the new millennium with resilience and strength to take the country towards greater success and ensure that Malaysia will continue to be free, independent and successful.

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.

(4/1/2000)


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman