The state of democracy have been put to question. The assessment is that there is something very wrong in the way of running the government and that things need to be changed before it is too late. In case things go wrong Malaysia, and in deed the whole region will be affected. In this, Australia has all the reasons concerned about the state of democracy in Malaysia.
Issues facing the Malaysian Democracy
Nick Xenophon, an Australian senator, pus it bluntly that the Malaysian democracy is on its life support. In this regard, the following are the main issues that are facing the current Malaysian democracy:
- Voting by phantom voters (ghost voters)
- voter fraud
- voter intimidation
- Discrepancies in election results
- Outright bribery of voters
- A short campaign period
- Lack of press freedom
- The police’s use of excessive force, eg tear gas and water cannons
The Bersih Movement
The term Bersih is a Malay language term which means clean. It is a democratic movement, under the Malaysian civil society, which calls for an complete and an all-round reform of the electoral process in Malaysia. Launched in 2006, its members are drawn from the opposition groups as well as the civil society.
Australia Rallies Support Malaysian Democracy Movement
The Malaysian police are generally aggressive to the rallies and protests held in Malaysia. It says that the Peaceful Assembly Act prohibits such protests. The police have reminded the protesters that they risked being legally sanctioned due to their action of joining such rallies of protest. It was therefore not surprising that the police did not respect the right of the Malaysians to stage peaceful demonstrations. In April 8, 2012, the police crashed with Malaysian protesters. Around 500 people were arrested.
During the same day, Perth residents of Malaysian origin have expressed their ultimate support for the democratic movement in Malaysia. They staged a rally that was aimed at showing solidarity to the democratic effort in their mother country. About 500 people participated in the rally.
On the same day, thousands of people took place in a mass rally in Malaysia in order to pressure the government to carry out the required reforms. The walk also incorporated a visit to the Malaysian consulate in Adelaide for a symbolic standing or sitting.
The Sydney Bersih rally attracted a whooping 500 participants. During the rally, various Malaysian activists spanning a wide generation addressed and encouraged the protesters. The activists included the famous John Khoo and Jared Wong. The participants, led by William de Cruz, sang freedom songs. There were poem recitals too.
Other places where the protests took place include the following:
- Melbourne (1250 participants)
Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim
A number of people have accused the Australian governments of being mute on issues affecting the Malaysians. For example, the Australian government could have made a strong opposition to the arrest of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim- a prominent opposition leader. It was clear that the charges were all trumped up- accusation of sodomy.
Anwar was a political hero in Malaysia and was a competent professional when he was the finance minister. During the Asian financial crisis in 1997, he shepherded the country to survival. He did not conform to the accepted behavior where political leaders were part and parcel of corruption and mismanagement. He was a man who held strong and solid democratic values.
Anwar has been held in solitary confinement. To make things worse, he has experienced poor health and the authorities either denied or delayed his medical treatment. The Amnesty International has declared Anwar the prisoner of conscience
Revelation by the Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal made the harsh revelation that the anti-corruption officers in Malaysia had found that almost US $ 700 million that were supposed to be deposited to the Malaysian development fund ended up in the personal account of Najib Razak- the Prime Minister of Malaysia. Najib shamelessly responded by stating that the Wall Street Journal had carried out political sabotage.
Malaysia should understand that countries in the category of middle income can evolve into failed states if proper state management mechanisms are not put in place. In this light, the government should listen to the dissident voices and respond to grievances. The fact is that all protesters are not what they are doing. The fact is that research has been done on the country’s political and financial status.