6 OCTOBER 2016
Nazir Razak’s call for a new National Consultative Council is motivated by good intentions and I share his sentiments about the state of this country. Grand scale corruption at every level of government and business, nepotism, cronyism, racism and institutionalized discrimination, religious extremism and intolerance, falling educational standards, widening income disparity, narrowing democratic space etc are issues that the ordinary Malaysian has to contend with. On the international front, we try to project an image of a moderate and progressive Muslim country with good economic and social indicators to a world audience that no longer believes in our fairytale. I agree with Nazir Razak that we are in dire straits.
The National Consultative Council 1970 promulgated a set of guidelines or national principles known as the Rukunegara, which many of us can recite by heart. Those principles, belief in God, loyalty to King and country, upholding the constitution, rule of law, and good behavior and morality are as applicable and relevant today as they were in 1970. The problem is that the government and institutions have chosen to ignore these principles, and the result is what we see today.
Belief in God to some groups means Belief only in their God; loyalty is now to political masters and cash; the constitution has been amended many times (more than 450 individual amendments as at 2005, according to the Bar Council’s Constitutional Law Committee), mostly to suit the needs of the ruling elite, at times conveniently misinterpreted by some to claim rights and privileges, at other times completely ignored; rule of law is mainly rule by law; good behavior and morality is an alien concept to those bleeding our country dry through corrupt practices that seems endemic in the top echelons of government.
The subsequent New Economic Policy that was launched in accordance with the objectives of promoting national unity and developing a just and progressive society has proven to be a failure. The affirmative action policy has served to enrich only the privileged elite Bumiputras whilst the rest, especially the indigenous Bumiputra, have been left no better off. National unity is really an illusion when the politics of this country is race-based, with the ruling party practising a Malay-only membership.
This new Consultative Council would be better off to discuss issues of poor governance, and ways to overhaul the system so that there is a real separation of powers between the branches of government. The crucial bodies such as the AG, the police, the judiciary and the Elections Commission must be truly independent. We need a government that is completely accountable, transparent and competent.
The real problem is not that we do not have the correct principles to guide us. It is that the principles have been ignored and abused by the drivers of this country. There is no regard for fairness and justice, only lip service. Nowhere is this more evident than in Sarawak and Sabah. Since joining with Malaya to form the Federation of Malaysia, we have been shabbily treated and neglected, while our wealth has been hijacked by the Federal government for the development of Malaya, and to bail politically connected companies out of financial strife. Our people remain the poorest in Malaysia and our religious freedom is being challenged constantly. Perhaps the NCC2 could also discuss the restoration of our rights and urgent remedial action for Sarawak and Sabah as a priority item on their agenda.
Chairman, KEADILAN Sarawak / ADUN N81 Ba’ Kelalan