Making 2005 The Year Of Democracy For Malaysia
2005 New Year Message
by Lim Guan Eng
(Petaling Jaya, Friday): 2005 will be a sad New Year for millions of peoples in our region who died, were injured or affected by the earthquake/tsunami disaster in Sumatera. Our hearts are with those Malaysians who lost their loved ones, suffered injuries or lost their homes and belongings. All Malaysians should have a muted celebrations and remember the victims with prayers.
DAP has also quietly contributed towards disaster relief, especially DAP Federal Territory which raised RM 24,000 and Selangor DAP, and will do our part with a nation-wide effort to raise help for these victims.
Whilst Malaysia’s festive cheer continues from Deepa-Raya to Christmas and the New Year, our open houses attended by Malaysians of all races gently reminds us that despite our religious, cultural and ethnic diversity in appearance we are essentially Malaysians at heart. National unity centered on Malaysian interests is more permanent, enduring and resilient than national unity hooked onto a particular race or religion.
Bangsa agama dan negara should refer to bangsa Malaysia, semua agama dan satu negara.
Stoking racial sentiments and pandering to fear is the easy way to power. Creating a pervasive climate of fear permeated by distrust is a proven election winner. Not only is this true in a developing country like ours but proven even in highly educated electorates in Australia and the United States. The recently concluded elections demonstrate the power of fear to stifle reason and permit irrationality to hold sway, even against one’s own self-interest.
We should not underestimate the power of irrational fear as a weapon against democracy, accountability and transparency. But we should not be afraid to confront fear. That is our challenge to seek freedom from fear and not to allow Malaysians to fear freely.
Threatening the people with PAS Islamic state succeeded beyond BN`s wildest imaginations during the 1999 general elections with non-Muslim voters, and overwhelmingly so in the 2004 general elections which included even by Muslim voters. DAP must avoid being associated in any manner with the notion of an Islamic state.
A return to the 1957 social contract that gave birth to the Merdeka Constitution should be the unifying basis for all Malaysians to work together to make our country more peaceful, stable, prosperous and justice for all.
During this festive occasion, renew our bonds to the values of our respective individual faith and family values. Recommit ourselves too to the values of working hard and freedom. So that the rewards from hard work, political morality, accountability, democracy, prosperity and equal opportunities naturally follow in equal measures.
Whilst Malaysians participate in this festive cheer, let us not forget that December is also politically an important month for human rights and fighting corruption. The United Nations have declared 9 December as International Anti-Corruption Day and 10 December as Human Rights Day.
We can not but be moved by the stirring words in the United Nations Declarations that realizing human dignity and recognizing human rights through is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world. Similarly we are determined that corruption must be eliminated because the poor suffers the most. Corruption deters investment and hinders growth. It erodes the rule of law and harms the reputation of and trust in the state.
5 Pillars of The Party
Fighting against corruption and for human rights are two of the five pillars of the party together with justice, equal opportunity and democracy. For this reason the DAP has taken a leading role in organizing a series of nation-wide protests against the 10% hike in toll charges. The government’s privatization program has become “piratisation” exercise enabling one company to rake in hundreds of millions of profits at the expense of public interests.
Even though the struggle to strengthen these five pillars is a continuing process, the party intends to focus on democracy next year. To this end, restoration of local government elections is a principal objective.
1965 forty years ago was a black year for democracy when local government elections was banned by the government. The reason used was the national threat from the Indonesian Confrontation with the promise of its full restoration upon the end of this national crisis. Like many promises made to be broken, local government elections have never been restored. Many excuses were made but the real reason was that the opposition kept on winning local government councils.
For far too long have local government being an appointed office and the people made to suffer its consequences with poor basic services and amenities, disreputable and corrupt management as well as ineffective and inefficient administration. Local governments are by and large unaccountable, unresponsive and often corrupt.
The time has come to return power to the people.
On the 40th anniversary of the ban on local government elections, DAP intends to make 2005 the launch of a national campaign to restore democracy by electing our local councilors. A National Restore Local Government Elections Action Committee shall be formed to enable us to reach out to all Malaysians regardless of race or religion.
So let us join hands to make 2005 the year of democracy in Malaysia.
* Lim Guan Eng, DAP Secretary-General