These seven measures are:-
1. Repealing Internal Security Act
2. Establishing the Independent Police Complaint and Misconduct Commission
3. Reforming media-related law through a Parliamentary Select Committee that studies Printing Presses and Publication Act, Official Secrets Act, Sedition Act, Communications and Multimedia Act and the need for Freedom of Information Act.
4. Liberalising our universities by repealing University and University College Act and replacing it with legislation produced from wide consultation with academics, students and other stake-holders of higher education.
5. Combating corruption with institutionalised means: (i) making Anti-Corruption Agency a statutory body accountable to the Parliament ; (ii) legislating ‘sunshine laws’ that requires elected representatives and civil servants to declare wealth and incomes.
6. Amending all other relevant laws so that the freedom of expression, assembly and association enshrined under Article 10 (1) of the Constitution will be genuinely upheld.
7. Establishing truth commissions to unearth the truth, declassify official documents, hold accountable those who abused power, correct the wrong and compensate the victims in the 1987 Operasi Lalang and 1988 Judicial Crisis.
So far, PM Abdullah has failed to keep his promises in combating corruption, reforming bureaucracy and listening to the truth. Instead, disappointingly, he has frequently suppressed the freedoms of expression and information.
If the PM wants to bury Mahathir’s criticism on the police state, he must show his political determination to initiate democratizing reforms and to breakaway with the authoritarianism inherited from Mahathir. Malaysians will then surely rally behind him in the deMahathirisation project.
In his letter ironically released on the 19th anniversary of Operasi Lalang, the largest political crackdown in a generation’s memory, Dr Mahathir has described how his political freedom is encroached. Organizations and Institutions including universities are prevented from inviting him to speak while individuals from attending his talks. Those defiant face economic and legal repercussion from employers, banks, contract-granting government agencies, police, Anti-Corruption Agency and other enforcement agencies. Lastly, advices are made by government leaders to silence any criticism, comment or debate.
CRC would like to remind Dr Mahathir that these are standard treatments for political dissents during his reign. Many Malaysian ‘citizens and commoners’, from his former deputy Anwar Ibrahim to opposition and community leaders, have suffered worse persecutions. In the words of the Information Minister Zainuddin Maidin, Dr Mahathir “has built his own era which made him not only to be respected but also feared”. If he has not realized this, it is because he had been effectively above the law when in power. Under his rule, freedom of speech has increasingly become a privilege enjoyed by the powerful and denied to political dissents and ordinary citizens.
If Mahathir’s criticism is to have any credibility and not to be dismissed as hypocritical rants, he must now support the seven measures so that everyone, and not only his own self, can freely speak one’s mind and participate in public affairs.
Chairman of Civil Rights Committee of KLSCAH
Mr. Ser Choon Ing