Sandra Rajoo brings you another edition of REFSA Rojak – a weekly take on the goings-on in Malaysia by Research for Social Advancement (REFSA). REFSA Rojak – “trawl the newsflow, cut to the core and focus on the really pertinent. Full of flavour, lots of crunch, this is the concise snapshot to help Malaysians keep abreast of the issues of the day.”
13th General Election
With just two days to the election, most of us by now know who we want to vote for. Those undecided still have 24 hours to make up their minds. This is one election that is going to be closely watched and vigilantly monitored. The significance it holds cannot be overstated. At this time on Monday, we could either be welcoming a new government and starting a new chapter, or remain stuck with the old one. Whatever the outcome, let us outline some of the things we demand of the government and the leaders we elect into office.
Credible leaders, good governance
First, we want competent and credible leaders who are serious about good governance. They must have the integrity and courage to put an end to corruption, mismanagement and lack of transparency. We don’t want contracts for development projects to fall into the hands of incompetent cronies. Corruption, fraud and mismanagement have led to losses of RM12.5 billion in Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ), RM250 million in the National Feedlot Corporation (NFC), RM500 million in the Scorpene submarines purchase, to name just a few.
To have money stolen or mismanaged by the very people appointed to handle it points to a blatant abuse of power. We must remove leaders who unashamedly treat the nation’s coffers as personal property. No dipping of hand in the public till as you please. We want a government that acts within its legal ambit to take action against all wrongdoing without having to be pressured to do so. No more cover-ups, downplaying negativity, sweeping the dirt under the carpet, being defensive, feigning ignorance …
Law enforcers who fight, not perpetrate, wrongdoing
We also wish that our law enforcers will uphold and enforce the law without fear or favour, and not indiscriminately. The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and Polis DiRaja Malaysia (PDRM) have been guilty of a lot of wrongdoing. We have seen people who have died or are violated whilst in the custody of these agencies.
In the case of Teoh Beng Hock and Ahmad Sarbani Mohamed who were found dead under suspicious circumstances on MACC’s premises, the perpetrators were never brought to book. In the case of the police – “156 persons died in police custody between 2000 and Feb 2011” – the number of deaths stuns us all. Yet, investigations into these unexplained deaths have dragged on for years, with no resolution in sight.
The police were also implicated in violence against peaceful demonstrators and journalists in the 28 April Bersih 3.0 demonstration last year. The inquiry by Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) confirms that PDRM used excessive and “disproportionate force”, fired tear gas and “chemically-laced water” directly at demonstrators and assaulted people, including “four media practitioners” already in their custody. To date, authorities concerned have kept mum about the report and Suhakam’s 25 recommendations.
We don’t want an elite government that is divorced from the needs of the common man. We are suspicious of leaders who are paid a government servant salary but live in big, ostentatious mansions, travel in private jets and splurge on luxury items without batting an eyelid. It is the duty of government to serve the people and not the other way round. The maxim ‘service before self’ should be every government official’s mantra.
We want government policies to be inclusive and equitable. Reject leaders who – in word and deed – practise racism and bigotry. Destructive elements like ethnocentrism and racial discrimination have no place in our society. Political parties that field candidates known for their racist behaviour are those who intend to perpetuate their racist agenda.
Leaders who care about security
We want our leaders to care about our security. Don’t give us statistics that contradict the reality on the ground. The Home Ministry which is responsible for the Crime Reduction National Key Result Area (NKRA), proudly proclaims its 50 initiatives and smugly declares that the crime index of 7.6 % has exceeded its 5 % target. But the only people feeling safe are probably the Home Minister and his team.
The ordinary Malaysian is living in ‘fear’ because of the crimes occurring every day. We read about people being gunned down in broad daylight, including a senior civil servant in Putrajaya, falling victim to the ubiquitous snatch thief and being conned online. Car thefts, house break-ins, human trafficking and so many more crimes continue to haunt us. We all look forward to the day when we are able to walk out of our house confident in the security of our environment. We don’t want to live fenced up and ‘gated’ in.
Leaders who value people and the environment
We should be concerned that there are self-serving leaders who have no qualms over causing environmental devastation. They ignore the perils of excessive logging, raze forests to the ground and displace the indigenous people. This is especially evident in East Malaysia. A National Inquiry into the Land Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Malaysia conducted by Suhakam unveiled the damage and destruction that has befallen Sarawak. We should be angry and demand that the state be held accountable.
Reports of the violation of native customary rights and systemic destruction of natural resources however have fallen on deaf ears. The state administration has put the fear of “arrests of those who stand up for their rights to land” and made “threats against NGOs” and those assisting the natives. The caretaker federal government has been closing both eyes to the fact that “numerous police reports lodged by the natives were not acted upon”.
Politics must be kept at arm’s length from education. Let us not gamble with our children’s future by allowing incompetent politicians to meddle in our education system. Our school system has deteriorated appallingly the last few decades and needs to be brought up to scratch urgently. The people in charge must have a global mindset – to understand and implement best education practices.
We want education authorities to engage with credible academicians and NGOs who are able to give succinct feedback, suggestions and advice.
Objective mainstream media
We want mainstream media to cater to the general public and not be mouthpieces of political parties. There should be no blacking out of crucial news or deliberately making truth and logic fuzzy, just to make political masters look good. The fact is many people have sued mainstream papers like Utusan Malaysia, NST and The Star for libel and publishing untruths and won.
Historic 5 May
5 May 2013 is going to be a historic day in more ways than one. Do check your voter status here before you cast your vote this Sunday. Polling centres are open from 8am to 5pm. Don’t forget your IC and do not wear anything that shows you’re aligned to any political party. If there are extra markings, smudges or tears on your ballot paper, you have the right to ask for a new one.
Remember, you hold the trump card in this election, so make your vote count and your voice heard.
Why ‘Rojak’? Disparate flavours and textures come together in a harmonious mix to make this delicious but underrated concoction. Our Rojak weekly is much like this mix, making sense of the noise of daily newsflow and politicking.
It is also our ultimate dream that our multi-ethnic melange of communities can be made richer within the unique ‘sauce’ that is Malaysia. Let’s take pride in the ‘rojakness’ of our nation!
Click here for previous issues of REFSA Rojak