Not wanting to go on a head-on collision with the authorities, Bar Council has called off the walk on Sunday. The council's chairperson, Ambiga Sreenevasan, should be applauded for being level-headed and calm in dealing with the authorities. It is believed that the police has refused to grant permit for the walk.
Reported in Malaysiakini.com, The organiser initially planned to hold the march, themed the ‘People’s Freedom Walk’ from the Sogo department store to Central Market on Sunday morning. The march has featured in the council’s annual celebration of World Human Rights Day, on Dec 10, for the last two years.
I would like to voice out my concern over the current situation. There are several reasons. First, it appears that the Malaysian democratic process is limited to a five-year occasion - the general elections. Several politicians, including a senior minister, suggested the electoral process as a venue for the people to register their displeasure. Apart from that, the authorities are reluctant to tolerate any form of democratic expression.
It is obvious that a democracy cannot function without the participation and feedback from its stakeholders - chiefly its people. The electoral process has been used and abused by many ruling governments to legitimise their hold on power. Venezualian experience is a good example. Luckily Hugo Chavez was narrowly defeated in a vote in an attempt to become president for life.
Over breakfast this morning, I spoke to a participant, Mohammed Khalef, from Tanzania - a country which was established in 1964 - about his country's electoral system. I was surprised to find out that they practiced proportionate representation in Tanzania. Our government has attempted to compare how great this country is compared to Ghana and other African countries. This African country is evidently far more liberal and just in their electoral representation than us.
Second, there is a growing tendency of our elected representatives acting more like autocrats than democrats. Dissents, however civil and objective, are treated with unbelievable harshness. In sum, the people cannot speak up against the authorities, public policies and about their grievances. Elected representatives should listen and be responsive to the people. But clearly, the rhetoric does not seem to suggest that these politicians are listening.
Third, I have voiced my concern in an open letter to the PM on the state of our public security. I am disappointed to find out that excessive use of force (FRUs and Police) is subjected to peaceful demonstrators but the same commitment is not seen when comes to combating crime. As a result, criminals have become more daring.
These politicians have blatantly denied that something is not right in the country. It is systemic change that we need and not merely a small tinkle with the system.
Malaysians who love their country must participate in the process to make this country a better place for all.