BERSIH 2.0, the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections, is appalled by the messages of intimidation and vengeance that a few top government leaders are sending out in the prelude to a general election that is expected to be held between the coming months and middle of next year.
First, is the thinly veiled, horrific warning by Deputy Prime Minister Zahid Hamidi that were the so-called social contract broken, Malaysians can expect not only “social disorder but – worse than that – our streets will be littered with blood and dead bodies”.
“Free Malaysia Today” quoted Zahid as saying this in his keynote address at the Human Ecology International Conference in Putrajaya on 18 April.
Then on 19 April, it was reported that Urban Well-being, Housing and Local Government Minister Noh Omar had issued a 6 March directive to local councils to scrap small-scale infrastructure projects in parliamentary constituencies not represented by the ruling party.
BERSIH 2.0 finds Zahid’s statement and Noh’s action deplorable, coming especially from political leaders who should be setting the tone for a free and fair general election to come.
Instead, Zahid evokes the spectre of violence, implicitly harking back to one of the darkest periods of our nation’s history, the 1969 general election. Though such threats are nothing new going by historical trends, they are no less unwelcome and must be condemned loudly by all peace-loving Malaysians.
Noh appears to lack understanding of a fundamental principle that all taxpaying citizens know – the government of the day has a duty, and is entrusted via a democratic system, to serve the people under its charge, regardless of political affiliation, through taxes paid by the people. A vote is a democratic right and an expression of the will of the people on who they want as their governmental representation; it is not a token that voters exchange for development goodies.
Noh’s action is also at odds with Prime Minister Najib Razak’s 17 April statement reported by Bernama that the government has never cheated the people of development projects and has always considered the rights and needs of the people regardless of background, in keeping with his “People first; performance now” slogan.
Noh also forgets that such a discriminatory practice, affecting some 20 million Malaysians, will also hit supporters of the ruling party, including non-voting constituents, who happen to live in constituencies where the majority of their fellow constituents did not vote in the party of their choice. Is the ruling party not concerned that it is also punishing its supporters for no fault of theirs but an unavoidable electoral feature?
As we come closer to a fully functioning two-party system, the stakes will get ever higher and politicians lacking integrity will adopt such dirty tactics to win the elections at the expense of the people’s well-being. Peace-loving Malaysians must reject such politicians whose actions engender an unhealthy environment that prevents voters from exercising their right to representation without fear of repercussion.
BERSIH 2.0 Steering Committee