An underground report from the Malaysian Civil Liberties Movement (MCLM) Public Forum, which was held below ground level at London’s Holiday Villa Hotel on 12 December 2010.
On 12 December 2010, the Malaysian Civil Liberties Movement (MCLM) conducted a public forum in London. Speakers included Raja Petra Kamaruddin, chairperson of the MCLM; Farouk Peru, Website Coordinator of the MCLM; and Yolanda Augustine, Secretary of the MCLM.
The forum sought to enlighten guests on the importance of civil liberties and having quality parliamentarians in order to ensure that these liberties are safeguarded.
More importantly, the movement was said to be an advocate of change and to repair the defects in Parliament.
In her address, Yolanda defined civil liberties as a class of rights aimed at protecting the freedom of individuals from unwarranted infringement by governments and private organisations. They ensure an individual’s ability to participate in the civil and political life of the state without discrimination, persecution or repression.
Such values have been stripped from Malaysians, regardless of where it has been enshrined — be it on a national scale as stated in the Federal Constitution, or on an international scale as put forward in the United Nations Charter of Human Rights.
This movement is not a new one. Founded in 2007, this movement falls under the category of a “third force,” whereby it is independent of any political parties.
As Raja Petra mentioned in his delivery speech, Members of Parliament (MPs) are commonly known as wakil rakyat (representatives of the people). Their duty is supposed to be to the rakyat, but such spirit has been lost in Parliament due to the bickering among politicians. These wakil rakyat have instead evolved into wakil parti (representatives of the party).
Therefore, the MCLM is now inviting individuals from various civil society movements to participate in the next general election. These individuals will be offered to the Pakatan Rakyat and the discretion of which constituency is to be determined by Pakatan Rakyat themselves, as MCLM does not plan to take over the role of political parties. This is to provide for a stronger opposition in Malaysia and to ensure that the needs of the rakyat are fulfilled. If Pakatan Rakyat refuses to accept the suggested candidate, the candidate will then run as an independent.
As Farouk Peru pointed out, “while politicians can change, causes cannot change.” The MCLM’s key focus is on ideology and not on the cult of personality. The movement’s guidelines are centered on The People’s Declaration (or Deklarasi Rakyat).
Hence, while political parties are not ready to give up their party rhetoric (for example, UMNO being unwilling to give up their championing of Ketuanan Melayu), MCLM hopes to transcend the hierarchical position of political parties, and return the focus on ideologies instead.
Another mission of the MCLM is to promote a flexible democracy.
It is hoped that by putting forward candidates from various civil society movements, the political discourse will return to issues that concern the rakyat. Accordingly, this will help to empower voters and make them feel less distant from their MPs.
On the day itself, the MCLM announced their first candidate — Malik Imtiaz Sarwar — a prominent lawyer in the field of Constitutional Law, and an outstanding human rights activist.
(A second candidate was later announced on 17 December 2010 at the MCLM forum in Malaysia.)
The MCLM will be offering a total of 30 candidates to stand in the upcoming general election. The website will be constantly updated.
As part of their effort in promoting civil liberties, the MCLM will be undertaking various campaigns such as advocating the abolishment of the Internal Security Act (ISA) and the Universities and University Colleges Act (UUCA).
The MCLM are also collaborating with MyOverseasVote to end discrimination against Malaysian citizens who are living or working outside Malaysia in terms of voting. It is deemed to be discriminatory not to allow overseas Malaysians who are not members of the armed forces, public servants, students and their spouses to register and vote as absent voters in the elections.
Funding and Donation
Legally, a deposit of RM200,000 is needed for each candidate.
Any donations can be made via the MCLM website.
As the general elections are just around the corner, the time has come for a solution.
As part of civil society, we must not let the political situation in Malaysia spiral out of control. Each and every one of us should play out our part by exercising our rights and demanding good governance.
Many great initiatives such as the Freedom of Information Bill have been undertaken, and many more should be done.
Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM) will be hosting their fourth Dinner Lecture this Saturday, 22 January 2011, featuring Raja Petra Kamaruddin. The topic is “The Rakyat as the Third Force”. For details, and to RSVP, please click here.
Audrey is currently residing in a town where everyone is Reading all the time. She is a lover of life, human rights and psychological thrillers. She believes that change is inevitable unless it is from a vending machine. Also, she freezes during the winter.