Monday, 19 October 2015

The New Phase of Democratic Reform

The New Phase of Democratic Reform

P. Waytha Moorthy


[Editor’s note] This article is full text written by Waytha Moorthy, Chair of HINDRAF, specially for "The New Phase of Democratic Reform in Malaysia" forum organised by Sahabat Rakyat held on 6 Sep 2015 at DeFortune Restaurant, Kulai. The following is the original full text submitted to Sahabat Rakyat on 17 Oct 2015, Chinese rendition will be published later.

I begin today with a quote from Sahabat Rakyat in their program invitation dated 13th July 2015 the original version being in Chinese.

“Therefore, while the democratic reform movement in our country moves towards the new phase of fragmentation and reorganization, all democratic parties, organizations and individuals should pay attention and properly treat the status of Hindraf and the concrete demands put forward by the Indian community represented by Hindraf to ensure Hindraf and the marginalized Indian community can merge into the struggle of all ethnic groups to oppose state Islamization and to bury UMNO hegemonic rule.”

UBAH was the rallying cry in the last GE. Unfortunately when I asked many UBAH apa no one seem to know other than the general need for change. Many feel all will be fixed if there was a change of Government.

I may be criticized for saying this today having thrown my support to BN in GE13. I make no apology for my actions. We had more than 16 meetings with PR but they could not even endorse the basic demands contained in our 6 point demands. The BN however entered into a written MOU and publicly apologized for their neglect of the minority Indian community for the last 4 decades and promised to implement the necessary economic programs that the Indian underclass badly needed. Well we all know that the PM did not keep to his words hence my resignation from all positions of Government. Now that is an old story.

The theme of today’s forum “ The new phase of democratic reform” is very relevant and timely for all forces who genuinely want to see a true democratic reform in this country. My speech today is based on what I wrote in 2010 themed “ Will Pakatan commit to a roadmap for true democracy”.

For a Human Rights Movement like Hindraf, which represents the poor, and underclass, promises of change are meaningless. Honestly it does not matter to the poor man suffering on the ground level if politicians are corrupt or if the country will be provided with good governance should there be change of Government. The poor man needs to be fed first. He needs an income. He needs a roof above his head. The almost 800K internally displaced Indian labourers’ from the estates need to be provided with compensation for their displaced lives, training opportunities to cope with their displacement, proper relocation and affordable housing. Since 1975 they have become the new urban poor and underclass who are suffering on a daily basis. A large number of them are stateless and a good 150,000 such stateless children are not attending schools because UMNO Government dictates so. By virtue of being stateless, many are unable to avail of the basic benefits of healthcare, social welfare, employment, driving licenses, acquire property etc.

When HINDRAF makes demands for the class of persons it represents, there are many quarters who are quick to say these are racist demands. It is sad as they either failed to understand or refused to understand that true democratic reform should incorporate all segments of society including the minority rights and expect the minorities to depend on their mercy.

We have really come to a cross junction. The new phase of democratic reform should include all true forces of political opponents of UMNO-BN and not the monopoly of 3 or probably now 4 political parties. The new force should incorporate NGOs, individual politicians who are credible, community leaders, Union leaders and of course political parties which have contributed to the opposition front like the PSM, and Dr Jeffrey Kittingan in Sabah.

The agenda to capture Putrajaya should be backed up with a concrete commitment for CHANGE instead of mere rhetoric’s.

The new phase of democratic reform should contain the following basic democratic changes, which in my opinion would bring about TRUE CHANGE;

1)    Clear and unambiguous commitment to the principles of Equality for all as stipulated in Article 8 of the Federal Constitution.

2)    Strict adherence to the original spirit and intention of the drafting of Article 153 of the Malaysian Constitution, ie the Special Position of the Malays and Natives in limited areas and not the false notion of the Malay Special Privileges and the “sapu bersih/habis”  concept that have paralysed Non Malays and stymied the country for 53 years.

3)    Commitment to amend the Federal Constitution to incorporate a truly impartial and independent Constitutional Court and its composition of Judges takes into account seniority, experience and appointment are to be open and transparent and consists of members of all races equally.

4)    Protection of Freedom of Religion as enshrined under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. All conflicts of religious status of persons etc should be adjudicated in the civil courts.

The original intention of amendments to Article 121 (1) of the Federal Court should be strictly adhered to i.e. that the role of Muslim syariah courts are to strictly adjudicate upon matrimonial and property matters involving Muslims only as per the debates and adoption of the new article 121 1 (A) in the Parliament Hansard in 1988.

All places of worships belonging to non-Muslims are to be equally recognized as PLACES OF WORSHIP (many do not realize that non-Muslim places of worships do not have a status) and land titles issued and permanently gazetted. Provisions be made under Federal funding for the establishment of new places of worships for all religious groups in a fair and orderly manner in   new townships and the government to provide for its maintenance as per granted to Muslim places of worships. Land titles granted to all places of worships, which had existed before Merdeka and the rights of these Religious groups be respected.

All persons are allowed to choose a Religion of his/her choice without state interference.

5) The new Government taking over responsibility of Education fully i.e. to provide land and funding equally for all schools including vernacular schools and upgrade and maintain all vernacular schools and schools belonging to minority groups, equally without discrimination. The responsibility of Education of all classes of citizens would be shouldered by the Government and the distinction of fully aided and non- fully aided school should be abolished.

6) Commit to revamp and clean the Police Force and civil service of its current corrupted particularly the top ranking officers.

7) Return the status quo of the monarchy prior to the amendments of 1981.

8) Commit to providing welfare and housing assistance of quality to all Malaysian poor equally under the welfare and housing ministry programs without any segregation / discrimination on grounds of race and religion.

9) Commit to the formation of a Royal commission of Inquiry into the Racist Agenda of BTN, which has trained almost 80% of its Civil servants to implement racist policies in Malaysia.

10) A royal commission and a truth and reconciliation commission to inquire into the abuse of power and corruption of UMNO regime over the past 53 years since independence.

11) Give the Borneo states its promised autonomy as per the 1963 Malaysia agreement and hold a commission of inquiry to investigate the issuance of citizenships to more than 1.5 million Muslims from around the region of Philippines and Indonesia which intended to dilute the Christian population in Sabah of their Political power. Return 50% of its wealth in natural resources back to the Borneo states for it to administer.

12) To revamp and draw concrete plans to implement new economic programs to benefit all Malaysians irrespective of race and Religion and announce these proposed plans before the next GE.

13) To pass a new Race Relations Act to make racial segregation/discrimination a crime in line with the International standards.

14)  To adopt and ratify all International Human rights treaties and bring Malaysia on  par with modern democratic society in the United Nations.

15) To revamp the Human Rights Commission to give it the power to initiate and recommend prosecutions independently of the Attorney general and these recommendations are to be adhered by the Attorney general. (Commit to amend the Federal Constitution to make the necessary changes). The appointment of members of the commission to be made open and transparent and its composition to be of people with integrity and credible Human rights record and contributions.

16)  To make an immediate commitment to resolve (not look into) the plight of the marginalized society that is plaguing the country which includes;

* The estimated 300,000 stateless Malaysian born Indians.
* Provide equal economic, social and educational opportunities for all marginalized community and declare openly programs and workable budgets to bring them on par with other communities and place them in the mainstream economic agenda.

17) To fully implement recommendations of the Royal Commission to enhance the operation and management of the Royal Malaysian Police established by the King on 4th February 2004. To form an independent Royal Commission of Inquiry to investigate the extra-judicial killings committed by the Royal Malaysian police.

18) To reduce annual defence budgets and mega projects and commit to allocate a minimum of RM5 Billion per annum to uplift Malaysia’s marginalized society and further RM5 billion of National wealth to help spur economic activity amongst the poor and marginalized.

19) Commit to liberalize licenses/ permits for publications and allow free airtime equally to all political parties during General Elections campaign period.

These are few examples of the fundamentals needed to bring about true democratic change in the lives of Malaysians. Unless and until the Opposition forces are open and transparent on their “UBAH” and truly committed to democratic principles, the masses would not believe their reform agenda. They would probably live with the known devil rather than unknown devil.

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