Recent political developments in the country have certainly not been conducive to improving relations amongst the ethnic groups, and might even be harmful in the long term to the nation’s stability and security. In most places where civility reigns, you would find both the winner and the loser of a general election shaking hands and congratulating one another before proceeding to their respective offices to carry out what is expected of them. The Prime Minister would outline his grand vision for the country to the Cabinet and the key issues they need to resolve. The Opposition Leader would marshal his best Parliamentarians to be his shadow Cabinet. Politicians from both sides would lock horns in debates about the country’s state of affairs and the people would judge them as they always do.
We know that Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had little say in the naming of the new Cabinet. This wasn’t because he didn’t try. Indeed, he was rebuffed by the Prime Minister who suddenly felt strong and energised by his so-called new mandate after the election.
Dato’ Seri Najib Razak, likening himself to a rock star, had put posters of himself in all constituencies during the campaign period as if he were the most popular politician ever grace this country. Now he is continuing on the same path with his list of new Ministers.
The following conference paper was presented at the Commonwealth Law Conference 2013 in Cape Town, South Africa.
As a former colony, Malaysia was at the time of its independence in 1957 the beneficiary of Westminster-style parliamentary democracy. Predicated on a written document, the Federal Constitution, which declared itself the supreme law of the land, the arrangement accommodated the establishment of Islamic, or Shariah, courts and the native courts. The concept of law, as it was to be understood moving forward, was reflected in the definition of “law” under the constitution: “law” includes written law, the common law in so far as it is in operation in the Federation or any part thereof, and any custom or usage having the force of law in the Federation or any part thereof.
After years of evidence to the contrary, I am frankly stunned that the Prime Minister still has his apologists who believe that he is a reformer being straitjacketed by a party and a Cabinet team that is not as excited about change as he is. Can we stop this nauseating pile of nonsense and be truthful for a change? Too much is at stake for us to continue being blind to what is obvious.
Abstract of speech delivered by Dato’ Zaid Ibrahim at the Mensa Annual Gathering on the 20th March 2011. For full text of speech, please refer here.
Today I want to talk about the importance of a liberal democracy for Malaysia if we are to sustain our growth and our success story.
Let’s look at the issue in a wider context. A vibrant democracy promotes a free market of ideas. As democratic citizens, we should be confident enough of our own critical thinking faculties to evaluate challenging ideas. What the authorities are doing is imposing protectionism on our sphere of reason.