(Penang, Monday): The
next 12 to 18 months will see critical tests for Malaysian nation-building,
democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
less than two months, the first two-year tenure of the Human Rights Commission (SUHAKAM) will expire and it
will be time for Malaysians to pass
judgment on the performance of the first two years of SUHAKAM. Equally important, will be the government’s stance on human
rights, which will be reflected by its decisions on its
second set of appointments of the SUHAKAM commissioners - whether the
SUHAKAM Chairman Tan Sri Musa Hitam and the more committed SUHAKAM commissioners
will be retained or dropped and whether the government is prepared to consult
the NGOs and the civil society to nominate more commissioners who have undoubted
commitment to its statutory objective and parliamentary mandate to protect and
promote human rights in Malaysia.
is poised at a most crucial period
for democracy and human rights, as there is the great danger in Malaysia and
elsewhere on the globe that the widespread fear of terrorism after the September
11 terrorist attacks would be convenient handmaiden for authoritarian and
repressive regimes to suppress
human rights and democratic freedoms, as was done in the past when communism was
the convenient scapegoat by such
regimes to stifle democracy and human rights.
welcome the SUHAKAM statement today deploring the blanket ban imposed by the
police on ceramahs as unconstitutional and a violation of the fundamental human
rights guaranteed by the Malaysian Constitution.
government and the police should respect the stand of SUHAKAM and immediately
lift the blanket ban on ceramahs, as all political parties have a vested
interest to ensure that their ceramahs are peaceful and orderly and there had
never been a case of a political ceramah turning violent or becoming unruly
without provocation or unfair and undemocratic interference with the fundamental
rights to freedoms of speech and assembly by the authorities.
reiterates our call for a roundtable conference involving all political parties
and the police to reach a national consensus against terrorism and extremism of
all forms and to reach an accord on the ground-rules for the operation of
political parties to ensure that the campaign against terrorism and extremism is
not used as an excuse to clampdown on democratic freedoms and human rights in
next great test is to the rule of law, as by the end of this year, Tan Sri
Mohamed Dzaiddin Abdullah will be retiring as the Chief Justice of the
Federal Court, unless he is given a six-month extension which had been given to
his two former predecessors.
had come into the highest judicial office in the land with the pledge to restore
national and international confidence in the independence of the judiciary. Although
Dzaiddin must be commended for stopping the rot which had made the judiciary the
international laughing stock and a major cause in undermining investor
confidence, the sad fact is that fundamental institutional reforms in the
judiciary had not been put in place which could immunize the judiciary from
executive assaults and excesses in the near future.
raises the question as to what is the future of the Malaysian judiciary after
Dzaiddin, whether there could be a relapse to the “dark age” of the justice
system, which crippled a just rule of law and a truly independent judiciary for
so many years in the recent past.
third great test for the nation will be the 11th general elections in
the country since Merdeka in 1957, which should be held within 18 months, and
will be a “Battle Royale” for
the very soul of Malaysia as it will
set the mould of Malaysian nation-building for decades and even generations to
the next general elections, the Barisan Nasional will fuse the two issues of the
September 11 terror and Islamic militancy ala-Taliban into a powerful weapon to
stampede the voters into the false
choice to endorse Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir
Mohamad’s declaration that Malaysia is already an Islamic state.
Barisan Nasional will deploy all its resources to delude the Malaysian voters
into believing that the only way to ensure that there is no Sept. 11 terrrorism
or extremist, fanatical and Taliban-type Islamic state in Malaysia is to give a
resounding landslide victory to the Barisan Nasional by endorsing Mahathir’s
declaration that Malaysia is already an Islamic state.
Barisan Nasional will not admit that this is a false choice, which would involve
the abandonment of the 44-year Merdeka Social Contract reached by our
forefathers from the three communities in 1957, and reaffirmed by the peoples of
Sabah and Sarawak in 1963 when forming Malaysia, and enshrined in the
fundamental constitutional principle and nation-building cornerstone that
Malaysia be a democratic, secular, multi-religious, tolerant and progressive
nation and that it is not an Islamic state.
choice Malaysians must decide in the next general elections is not between
Mahathir’s Islamic state or a Taliban-type Islamic state, but between the
preservation of the 44-year Merdeka Social Contract which had been defended by
the first three Prime Ministers of Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak and
Tun Hussein Onn, that Malaysia is a democratic, secular, multi-religious,
tolerant and progressive Malaysia or jettisoning it for Malaysia to start on the
new road of an Islamic State.
DAP is faced with a herculean task to explain the real choice to
all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or political beliefs, as we are in
a race against time to send out the message that at stake is the 44-year Social
Contract and the fundamental constitutional
principle of Malaysia as a democratic, secular, multi-religious, tolerant and
must also ensure that all Malaysians, whether Muslims or non-Muslims, understand
that the defence of the 44-year Social Contract and Merdeka Constitution and
opposition to the establishment of an Islamic State in Malaysia is not a
campaign against Islam.
must conduct such a nation-wide campaign to mobilise national support for the
44-year Social Contract and the Merdeka Constitution in a serious and
responsible manner, unlike the
irresponsible attacks of the MCA and Gerakan in their defamatory campaign in the
last general election, claiming that a vote for DAP is a vote for PAS, a vote
for an Islamic State, where there is no pork, no alcohol, no temples or
churches, no Chinese schools, beautiful women would have no work, etc.
while spearheading the campaign to defend the 44-year Social Contract and the
secular Merdeka Constitution, DAP must continue to be in the forefront in the
battle for justice, freedom, democracy and good governance so that no one can smear
us as having suddenly become an one-issue party.