Sunday, September 18, 2011

Malaysia Day 2011

Making it truly meaningful for Malaysians

September 16 2011, was a historic day for us as it was the first time ever our National Day and Malaysia Day were celebrated simultaneously not just in in the peninsula but in Sabah and Sarawak as well. 

Moreover we celebrated the historic day with very encouraging news from the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak who promised drastic changes towards greater democratisation of the nation. Many were taken by surprise especially the members of the opposition Pakatan Rakyat and those who were highly critical of his lack of commitment to introduce reforms.

The SIX  drastic changes to be introduced by him are:

1.The Internal Security Act (ISA) 1960 will be repealed. In its place, two new laws will be enacted to safeguard peace and order the detention period will be reduced and can only be extended by the courts, except in cases involving terrorism.
2.Three remaining emergency proclamations to be lifted are: Emergency 1969, Emergency 1966 (Sarawak) and Emergency 1977 (Kelantan).
3.Banishment Act 1959 will also be repealed.
4.The annual licence renewal requirement for newspapers and publications will be replaced with a one-off permit by reviewing the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984.
5.Reviewing the Restricted Residence Act 1933.
6.Allowing greater freedom to assemble by reviewing Section 27 of the Police Act 1967 by taking into consideration Article 10 of the Federal Constitution which guarantees every citizen with the right to freedom of speech and assembly

Of major significance was his pledge to repeal the ISA which has been a thorn on the side of the BN government for many decades and by willing to abolish it he has indicated his willingness and boldness to listen to the people,the vast majority of them wanted it abolished. However the 2 new laws to be enacted to replace the ISA is a cause for concern which should be allayed by the government quickly if it wants to to earn the trust of the people.

The other major breakthrough is the doing away of mandatory annual renewal of printing licenses which has been a deterrent for the freedom of information. We hope the move to amend the controversial Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984, which will do away with the annual renewal of their licenses will be first step leading to the final abolishing of the Act itself  which is seen to impede the freedom of the press.

The review of the Police Act to allow greater freedom of peaceful assembly by the people to express their views on controversial issues will enhance the freedom of speech and assembly that are so vital in a thriving democracy.

Najib may have made an unprecedented bold move to give in to the demands of the people but there are still many who are sceptical of his motives and his ability to bring about the changes that he has pledged. Past experiences show that promises are easy to come by but not real changes which require a great deal of courage and unselfish commitment on the part of the Prime Minister and his cabinet which is clearly lacking with the present administration.

Malaysians are watching whether the PM will be able to push through with his plans to make the nation more democratic and at par with other advanced democracies in the world. These drastic reforms to be more meaningful should be introduced before the 13GE to dispel the suspicion that the promises made by Najib are not mere political rhetoric but sincere efforts to bring real change.

Besides acting to move towards greater democratization there is still plenty more to do to address the deteriorating race relations in the nation, as Malaysia turned 48 on this September 16.Najib and his government should do more to more to take the nation forwards in line with his 1Malaysia policy that is the most poorly understood of his policies creating a lot of confusion among the various ethnic communities. He should be bold enough to act against those out to create inter-racial and inter-religious conflicts. Racial politics must be thwarted at all costs regardless of who perpetrates them. Malaysians must not be distinguished by the color of their skin, the language they speak or the faith they profess but by their contribution to the development of the nation.

Every citizen regardless of his race, creed, political belief or social status has some thing unique to contribute to the nation, which many do with great passion and dedication. Unless they are rewarded accordingly in a truly fair and just manner, National Day will be meaningless to the ordinary man on the street, who calls himself Malaysian.

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