Make Democracy the only game in town

Civil Society Joint Statement on the 2nd Anniversary of March 8 2008 General Elections
Two years ago, Malaysians wrote history by weakening UMNO/Barisan Nasional’s electoral one-party state. For the first time since independence, the ruling coalition lost its two-third parliamentary majority and a total of five states were ruled by the opposition parties.
As a result, Malaysians has benefited tremendously from vibrant competition between Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat. As Pakatan Rakyat advocate “Ketuanan Rakyat” and values like competence, accountability and transparency, Barisan Nasional under Prime Minister Najib Razak respond with his “1Malaysia” campaign and “Government Transformation Programme”. In brief, Malaysians are enjoying the bonus of democratization.
Unfortunately, the budding democratisation is also threatened by politicians who refuse to accept “democracy as the only game in town” and try to subvert the voters’ verdict through at least three unscrupulous means: (a) defection and change of government without fresh elections; (b) politically-motivated investigation, prosecution, harassment and detention of opposition leaders, civil society activists, journalists and bloggers; (c) discrimination in development funding against opposition-run state governments and opposition-won constituencies.
These undemocratic acts disrupt our public life and threaten political stability. The latest defection and quitting of PKR lawmakers are both a betrayal to their voters and an assault to Malaysia’s party system. Malaysia would be in a total chaos and even induce coups if popular mandate can be ignored and violated at whim.
On the 2nd anniversary of March 8 election, we the undersigned civil society groups call upon all political parties to respect the voters’ verdict made on March 8 2008. We urge them to promise the following five basic reforms in their present or future capacity as federal and state governments.
1. That Article 48(6) of the Federal Constitution and similar provisions in state constitutions be amended to allow elected representatives resign and re-contest when they disagree with their party.
2. That “recall elections” be introduced so that voters may sack elected representatives who underperform or betray their mandate.
3. That the Federal Government would respect the spirit of federalism and threat all state governments and members of parliament fairly regardless of party affiliation in term of grants, subsidies, royalties, etc.
4. That the State Governments would threat all state assemblypersons fairly regardless of party affiliation in term of allowance and support; and also hold local elections so that all parties may have the chance to win representation in local governments.
5. That all anti-human rights legislations be repealed and all politically-motivated investigation and prosecution be stopped immediately.
We also call upon all Malaysians to pursue these demands with both Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat. We must defend the fruit of March 8 and defeat all attempts to roll back the democratisation process. Come next elections, let us decide our votes based on the coalitions’ fulfilment of these demands.
Let us reclaim our country and make democracy the only game in town.