Thursday, 30 July 2015

Sahabat Rakyat is celebrating its 14th anniversary Inviting experts to explore the new phase of democratic reform

Sahabat Rakyat is celebrating its 14th anniversary
Inviting experts to explore the new phase of democratic reform

Second media statement dated 30 Jul 2015

(Text below is translated from original version in the Chinese language published on 29 July 2015. In the case of any discrepancy between the English rendition and the original Chinese version, the Chinese version shall prevail.)

Sahabat Rakyat is organizing “The New Phase of Democratic Reform in Malaysia” forum on 6-Sep 2015 (Sunday) from 11am to 2pm at DeFortune Restaurant, Kulaijaya, Johor in commemoration of its 14th anniversary.
Sahabat Rakyat will be celebrating its 14th anniversary.  Particulars are as follows:

Date: 6-Sep 2015 (Sunday)
Time: 11:00am – 2:00pm (Forum: 11am to 1pm; Luncheon: 1pm to 2pm)
Venue: DeFortune Restaurant, Kulaijaya, Johor

Audience can be seated starting from 10.30am to ensure forum to begin on time and to allow sufficient time for Q&A session. Sahabat Rakyat put forward the following points in the first press statement released on 13-Jul about this event:

1) Before the formation of Malaysia, Malaya and Sabah Sarawak used to be multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-religious societies. After Malaysia was formed, UMNO has been unscrupulously implementing hard-line policies from state Malayization to state Islamization, to carry out forced assimilation and racial oppression on non-Malay Muslims.

2) The Malay hegemonic ruling clique represented by UMNO has then become the main object of the democratic reform struggle of all ethnic communities in Malaysia. “Oppose state Islamization, put an end to the UMNO hegemonic rule” is the utmost important task of struggle in the current phase of democratic reform in Malaysia.

The struggle of the people of all ethnic groups in Malaysia in opposing state Islamization and putting an end to the UMNO hegemonic rule  moved a few steps forward previously when PAS, due to their own political needs, established Pakatan Rakyat (PR) with DAP and PKR in facing the 13th General Election (GE13). However, when PR’s dream of “changing the government (Ubah)” in GE13 vanished into thin air, the clerics (“Ulama”) faction leadership led by Hadi Awang again raised the banner of “Syariah Law” and “Islamic doctrine”. They, on the one hand, got rid of almost all leaders who are more progressive, on the other hand, hastily announced to sever ties with DAP. As a result, PR formed by the 3 parties had no choice but to announce its disintegration, causing the tide of democratic reform in our country to hit the rock-bottom.

Leaders of the 3 parties that formed PR showed different reactions in the face of the abovementioned severe situation, people are still waiting to see what will happen next. The ousted PAS leaders from the progressive faction announced the launch of New Hope Movement (Gerakan Harapan Baru, GHB) on 13 July, to prepare for the founding of a new political party which is still Islamic base that will work with PKR and DAP in forming “PR 2.0” or a new political coalition. On 22 July, Anwar Ibrahim, PKR leader under detention, announced via his lawyer that a new coalition will be formed. This new coalition will cooperate with all progressive groups including non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as Bersih 2.0, Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (ABIM), Ikram and GHB. However, people are still unable to see any positive and encouraging changes that will be brought by Anwar Ibrahim, other PKR leaders or PAS progressive faction leaders who formed GHB in resolving the dilemmas and issues suffered by the oppressed non-Malay ethic communities (mainly refers to Chinese and Indian communities in peninsular Malaysia; Kadazan-Dusun and Iban-Dayak communities in Sabah and Sarawak). Lim Kit Siang, DAP leader who is blazing a trail frankly said that DAP and PKR are preparing to establish a “new political coalition” which excludes PAS but includes the new party formed by those sidelined by PAS Ulama faction. In Lim Kit Siang’s opinion, people across the country are waiting for a “new political coalition” that will revive the dream of “Ubah” in Malaysia. At the same time, he also believes that many are concerned that this expectation may have been buried along with the death of PR on 3-Jun.

Democratic parties, organizations and individuals and even the people of all ethnic communities are paying close attention and discussing about the development and future path of the socio-political movement in our country. From various incidents, perhaps the leaderships of the 3 parties in PR have not fully realized the root cause of PR falling apart today, but the people of all ethnic groups have gained a profound experience and understanding about the attitude of PR leaders who are “conceited” and “regard themselves as infallible”. People have started to recognize that “democratic reform cannot succeed by just relying on the call of ‘Ubah’ by certain ‘charismatic leader’”, “democratic reform can only succeed by gaining widespread support of the people of all ethnic groups by adhering to their demands and aspirations”. Democratic parties, organizations and individuals in Malaysia should gain painful yet valuable lessons from the born till the death of PR, to avoid repeating the same mistakes.

As an organization promoting the ideology of democratic and human rights, and involving ourselves in the democratic reform movement in our country, Sahabat Rakyat takes the opportunity to hold a forum entitled “The new phase of democratic reform in Malaysia” in commemoration of its 14th anniversary on 6 Sep 2015 (Sunday) from 11am to 2pm at DeFortune Restaurant, Kulaijaya, Johor. We are inviting the following experts to express their insights and unique views in the forum:

Dzulkefly Ahmad , Secretary of Gerakan Harapan Baru
Ambiga Sreenevasan, Former co-chairperson of Bersih 2.0 and President of National Human Rights Society (HAKAM)
S. Arutchelvan, Secretariat of Malaysia Left Coalition,
Waytha Moorthy, Chairman of Hindu Rights Action Force (HINDRAF)
Lina Soo, President of Sarawak Association of Peoples’ Aspiration (SAPA)

Sahabat Rakyat will also do all we can to express some views to share with democratic parties, organizations and individuals in our country.

The forum that Sahabat Rakyat is holding has the following significance:
1) As always, give full play to our independence and initiative as a non-government organization (NGO) to express our concerns and views on issues regarding democratic reform in our country.

2) Stimulate more NGOs to give full play to their independence and initiative to express their concerns and views on issues regarding democratic reform in our country through this event and via the collision of ideas among each other.

Besides disseminating the articles prepared by the speakers during the forum, we will also publish all the articles at Sahabat Rakyat’s blog ( and forward them to local and foreign media, in order to broaden the education and propaganda impact of the forum.


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