Democracy needs a rabbit leap in 2023!

The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) wishes all Malaysians a dynamic year of Rabbit in the Chinese calendar, where democracy may take another leap forward to reach a stable and mature multiparty competition.

The Year of Tiger had presented Malaysians with challenges and trials, but the public’s will to have an Anti-Hopping Law (AHL) was materialised on October 5, 2022, allowing a party-based coalition government to be formed on November 24 from the hung parliament produced by the 15th General Election (GE15).

We are heartened, in its last week, by Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s vision of nation-rebuilding: Malaysia Madani, with six values: sustainability, prosperity, innovation, respect, trust and compassion.
However, many Malaysians fear that Malaysia Madani would just become another empty slogan like former Prime Ministers’ visions and slogans, from “Bersih, Cekap, Amanah”, “Vision 2020”, “Islam Hadhari”, “1Malaysia”, “Malaysia Baru”, “Malaysia Prihatin” and “Keluarga Malaysia”.

How can Malaysia Madani prevent, amongst others,
(1) Parties from buying votes in the name of charity because the Election Offence Act is never consistently enforced?
(2) Voters from treating elected representatives as ATM machine in human forms because they have no power to impact change in Parliament/State Legislature?
(3) Parties from changing coalition and bringing down governments over ministerial or GLC jobs?
(4) Attorney General Chambers from dropping charges on corrupt politicians and state officers?
(5) Opposition MPs from playing up ethno-religious sentiments because they are not incentivised and supported to develop policy expertise?
(6) Opposition-led State Governments from being denied equal access to federal fund?
(7) Federal and state lawmakers on the Opposition bench from being denied equal access to constituency development fund?
(8) Businesses from controlling political parties that depend on private funding to operate because they are not supported by public subsidies?
(9) Voters from feeling tired with elections because they cannot know in advance election dates and yet they have to travel home to vote?

Bersih is not at all pessimistic with Malaysia Madani. We see its full potential to transform Malaysia if two conditions are met: First, “Respect” and “Trust” between political parties must be established; Second, “Innovation” prevails over business-as-usual resistance in institutional reforms.

We look forward to Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim initiating a cross-party, cross-sector, cross-state national conversation with a concrete agenda to operationalise his Malaysia Madani ideal in political culture and institutional reforms. Bersih is ever ready to assist him and other leaders – in Parlimanet and Cabinet – in such initiative.

Bersih wishes Malaysia with a rabbit leap in true political stability and accountability, with which Malaysia can build business confidence and catch up in post-Covid recovery to achieve the three other values in Malaysia Madani: “Sustainability”, “Prosperity” and “Compassion”.

Issued by:
Steering Committee of BERSIH
22 January 2023