Saturday, July 30, 2011

Rule of Law in Malaysia: A Race to the Bottom?

The foundation for rule of law in Malaysia was cemented when the federal constitution was created and enacted in 1957 & expanded in 1963 (when Malaysia was established), at least that was what we thought.

However, several issues and events which happened in the last 3 years have put the whole foundation through a stringent test.

Fundamental issue such as freedom of speech, assembly and association has created a lot more confusion and controversy that what was supposed to be a straight forward answer. In a democratic country, the rights to speak up, assemble and to form/participate in an association are almost certainly protected by a democratic constitution.

In fact, these rights are the basic pillars of a democracy. These rights should be accorded fairly to all citizens without prejudice. These rights are to be protected by the constitution, interpreted justly by the judiciary and enforced fairly by the enforcement authorities.

Civil society would play a role as a watch dog to ensure that any attempt to usurp or distort these rights is severely criticised and opposed. Even a government is duty bound to govern and function within the democratic and constitutional framework.

There are many benefits for a society/nation which practices the rule of law. A proper adherence to the rule of law does not only provide protection for all regardless of ethnicity, creed or social status but it could dissuade abuse of power and promote accountability.

Any branch of power should always be mindful that there is a check-and-balance mechanism to ensure it acts in accordance to the constitution.

Rule of law helps to promote international trade and investment. Rule of law offers consistency and predictability to the application and enforcement of corporate law. It helps to pacify foreign investors who are not familiar with this country that their investment is safe.

Now, back to Malaysia, why am I suggesting that we might be racing to the bottom in regards to the rule of law?

1. Public institutions losing its credibility and aura of being democratic. In Malaysia, we should ask which public institution is still enjoying a good image for being trustable and credible? If you cannot name me some and do it quickly, then there is a problem with rule of law in Malaysia. Building institutions, credible ones, is a key tenet of a democracy. It is important not to allow the concentration of power in the hands of certain individuals or non-inclusive institutions.

2. Concentration of power in the hands of a few personalities. Public institutions in the country do not function independently of a few personalities. Politicians are in control of these institutions and not their legal and constitutional jurisdiction and role. Many were quick to blame it on Mahathirism but we should admit that a lack of appreciation of democratic values had allowed Mahathir to manipulate these institutions and the system to his regime's advantage.

3. Lack of public awareness on key democracy enablers e.g. rule of law, separation of power, role of elected representatives, individual rights, constitutional rights and nation building. A lack of awareness and knowledge is not only demonstrated by the common public but heads of public institutions who think that they are supposed to be grateful to the government of the day for their appointments.

4. Abuse of power and inappropriate use of state coercive power. This is the worse form of action which could dampen and destroy public confidence in these institutions and their officials. You do not need me to elaborate on examples of abuse of power by public institutions. I am sure you could list me 10 examples within a few minutes. It does not augur well for Malaysia and our global ambition.

It is important for all of us to pause for a while to reflect on what we should and can do for this country. Sadly, this country, a beautiful land blessed with the best of scenery and resources, deserves better. To be listed as one of the top 10 countries suffering worst brain drain is both painful and unbelievable. This country is neither Somalia nor Iraq.

How many of us realize that we are caught in a perpetual decline? Meaning while we remain sluggish, our neighbours are improving very quickly. It means vis-a-vis we are actually suffering from a competitive decline.

What can we do? What can be done? How can we impact change so that Malaysia can reverse the decline?

These questions have become more pertinent than ever if you care for Malaysia.

11 comments:

bruno said...

The foundation of rule of law states that there is only one set of law that states that all Malaysians must abide to.But since these ignorant Umno GOM has been in power for five decades they think that the country is their own personal piggy bank and belongs to them,that they have another set of law for them and their cronies.

Just look at the mass plundering of the people's bank.Look at the mansions these pariah bastards of Barisan politicians and their cronies live in.Hundreds of billions of the peoples money have being robbed by these robber barons.But where is the MACC.Then one of the small time scumbag pariah snatch thief who owned a mansion rumoured to be worth 15-20 million ringgit make a false report of corruption of a few thousand ringgit and the MACC immediately swung into action.

This ex mb Khir Toyo being a dentist by profession can work till the rest of his life and cannot afford to buy a junk dishwasher so how can he afford such a huge mansion.He must have sold his wives and daughters to buy the house if not for corrupted money.Or else where does the money come from.And because of this bastard an innocent man has being murdered by officers of the MACC.

Then we have citizens on candle light vigils and wearing yellow being arrested for subversive elements.But when the Umno youth set loose 600 of their gangster bikers to terrorised the people in the middle of busy PJ they have the blessing of the PDRM and GOM.Its a wonder if these animals will be around after GE 13th.

bruno said...

Malaysia's FDI is set to be on par with Myanmar and Cambodia.The last time,a year ago I read it was on par with Vietnam.Now a year later it has to be behind Vietnam.

During the time when Lim Chong Eu was CM of Penang,FDI was on a parabolic uptrend.LCE the master of FTZ,who started the first FTZ in Bayan Lepas was the one who got the ball for FDI really rolling.If you leave it to the Umnoputras,we can wait until the cows came home in Cambodia and we will still not be able to see daylight.Just look,in the seventies we were the favourites among foreign investors,because of our peaceful,stable and democratic government.

Mass corruption,racial and religious indiscrimination and the authoritarian undemocratic government has set foreign investors scrambling to neighbouring countries.Singapore,Taiwan and South Korea who were on par with us have gone on to be developed nations while we are struggling to keep our developing nation's status.

Indonesia,Thailand and Philliphines the troublespots of our region has come back with a vengence.Look at communists China and Vietnam.In 10-15 years time China will become the world's largest economy surpassing the United States.We are the only country in the world to be going backwards in everything.

From a model democratic country to an authoritarian kankaroo court nation.From an foreign investors favourite destination to an foreign investors most shunned destination.From one of the natural resources richest country to an almost expleted resource poor bankrupt nation.Malaysians please go figure if Malaysia needs these Umnoputras for another 54 years.

Anonymous said...

This is the best joke of the day - "going back to Tun Razak's time". After all these years, there are now only two Indian ministers as if it's something to shout about.

So what if there are 10 Indian ministers in the cabinet? Does it make any difference to the average Indian on the street? What if they give 20 ministers to MCA? Is it going to get them the Chinese support?

The rakyat have already realised all of BN's cheap racist tricks. Who cares if you have 100 Indians, Chinese, Kadazan, Dayak, whatever ministers in your cabinet? In the end, all are destined to be running dogs for Umno.

One real person fighting for justice like Ambiga Sreenevasan is worth more than 1,000 Indian ministers in Umno's cabinet.

Li Li Fa said...

Your thoughts reminded me of what someone had said. "It is not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country."

At this crucial juncture which our nation is positioned, it is imperative that all like-minded Malaysians should stand united to turn the tide so to speak. The current regime has provened itself that 54 years of running the nation and bringing it to such a state has triggered the clarion call that enough is enough. The current regime has to go to make way for a better government. Let's do it through the democratic process at the 13GE. The incumbents have assured electoral reforms, which I hope is not one bag of hot air.

TUKAR said...

What can we do? What can be done?
The answer is simple-change the government!(since they don't want to change).

Anonymous said...

Under this 1Malaysia regime, we have only seen repression of our democratic rights and institutions. Unless Najib can reverse this backsliding into the tyranny of the Mahathir years, we may well remember him as Bapa Kezaliman.

Leithaisor said...

Increasing the rakyat is pondering about the fundamental issue of a fatal systemic lack of backbone

On the Net and via Twitter they are voicing out more and more about the PM, his cousin the Home Minister, and assorted ministers who simply do not appear to be able to lead with clear, logical and fair firmness in the face of political expediencies dictated by racial, sectarian and ulterior personal interests.

Far from being statesmen, they shamelessly flip-flop, try to weave tai-chi style around issues and questions that would prove highly detrimental to themselves if they tried to answer, spew ghastily mangled "interpretations" of laws, deny/twist earlier statements when challenged to honour their words and if all else fails threaten or even use draconian laws with bombastic charges like waging war against the Agong or jeopardising national security.

Like Ambiga said in her speech in Exeter University, we have a question of rule of law vs rule by law.

When Najib still tries to tai-chi his way around a simple direct question posed to him at the Malaysian Student Leaders Summit about whether he is Malaysian first or Malay first, compared to the DPM's direct response previously of being "Malay first and Malaysian next", can the rakyat be blamed for wondering just sort of PM he is?

Indeed, going by the growing volume of postings hammering Najib and his cousin Hisham, it would appear that there is scant doubt in many Malaysians' minds that where the rule of law is concerned, who the worst culprits are in the race to the bottom.

Anonymous said...

There are those who are bent on pitting race against race and religion against religion. Even if there are some who evangelise, that does not mean that Christians as a whole show no respect for Islam or that there is a Christian conspiracy to Christianise Malaysia.

We must decide as Malaysians the direction we must go as a nation. We can choose to bleed the nation dry with internecine strife. Or we can resolve as we did before, respecting one another without interfering with the way each of us practices our faith.

Christians believe in the truths revealed in their Holy Books just as Muslims believe in the truths revealed in their Holy Books. Similarly with the others. All religions emphasise good conduct. All religions reject evil. Killing is wrong as is stealing and adultery and rape. These are values that are common to all religions.

So we can take a positive view of all religions and move on. The problem with organisations like Jais is that they have to justify their existence.

On another note, what is our so called “efficient and fair” PDRM doing all this while??. Many months have passed: what’s the outcome of the investigation of the alleged Christian plot in Penang to take over Islam as the official religion?

If it is not true then charge the bloggers, Utusan Malaysia and one ex-DAP member for making false accusations to incite unrest in the country. We are still waiting for the outcome of the investigation. Don’t think that we have forgotten about it.

Anonymous said...

Here we go again, another fiasco in the making, another circus display of 'misplaced' governance that makes you wonder if anyone in the country is safe from the authorities anymore and if intelligence is no longer a pre-requisite to work for its religious department.

Any government with goons running around and gate-crashing other people's party must be a worry to citizens anywhere. The Malaysiakini report on the 'illegal' and unconstitutional Jais raidon the Dream Centre, a community place run by the Damansara Utama Methodist Church, reflects a government department with nothing better to do than harass law-abiding citizens going about their business peacefully.
With thirty enforcement staff led on a wild goose chase when they could be more productively employed during the season of Ramadan is indeed bewildering but not unexpected when you follow the script of an unholy plot and belong to Malaysia's version of the Keystone Cops, those comical cops always chasing someone but only making fools of themselves and making us laugh at their expense.
But the Jais raid on the Dream Centre is no laughing matter.
It is an attack on the constitutional rights of citizens and an unprecedented low on the persecution of the legitimate activities of citizens in the country by a government department that seems to act with intrusive impunity and that gets more ridiculous by the day. Is religious paranoia following after race that has failed to divide Malaysians after the evident show of unity by Malaysians of all races during the Bersih 2.0 event? They accused certain Muslims and now they are accusing Christians. Who's next?. Really disgusting!!!

Anonymous said...

1.8m for facebook? is that rite? i am no computer geek.

supriya said...

Is this your Law and rules? Why Malaysia Euro star express courier
service team playing game with me? Who is responsible about my money?
you call then ans ask them why they are fooling one Nepali innocent
lady?

Who is wrong people? Euro star express courier is true serves?
My friend send me some gift for me and my son from UK but still i
didn't received that package. everyone said i lost my package. But Why?
so many time i paid money for Euro star express courier. Now Who will
give me the money that I spend for Malaysia Euro star express courier
office? I don’t know anything just help me
to return my package whatever I paid money for that Malaysia team
service team. That
team played with my innocence very badly. I felt that Nepalis far
better in laws and responsibility then yours. Teams tricks
and conspiracy, I couldn’t understand at the beginning as I was
innocent Nepali lady.