Thursday, April 30, 2009

1Malaysia: Part 6 –Law, Order and Justice – Part (1)

Law and Order

Any real movement or reforms towards 1Malaysia must necessarily involve tackling fundamental issues in the country. Without fundamental changes to the way we, as a Nation have been looking at things and the way we have been doing it, no real change can take place. Without fundamental changes, it will merely be very short term and worse, cosmetic.

While there has been a call for all sorts of reforms, many forget the pre-requisites for reforms – time, an informed public, maturity and mental acceptance, readiness and willings to embrace the reforms, law and order, etc.

We must also understand the background of our Nation – multiethnic, multicultural, mutlireligious, rural-urban. These complex makeup will necessarily bring about differing understandings of a single act of reform, some even negative perceptions of a positive act of reform. For example, even the concept of 1Malaysia itself may be easily misunderstood or worse, purposely misinterpreted by irresponsible quarters with hidden agendas.

Needless to say, the information mechanism of the Government must be transparent, accessible to the public and as effecient as possible so that firstly, presentation of the reforms are done as clearly as possible and secondly, so that misinformation can be minimised. These are trite requirements.

For more than 3 years now, the political momentum in this country has gone on high gear and not necessarily for the general benefit of the people. In fact, I am of the humble view that the political manuverings are actually exhausting resources and talents in our country and actually hurting the common citizen. Both sides of the political divide appear to be preoccupied with political winnngs rather than the welfare of the people. This has to cease.

In the above premises, and in the light of the current unprecendented political scenario that the country finds itself embroiled in, a firm and just management of law and order is imperative. Without law and order, no reform can be introduced, let alone implemented. This is because, there will always be quarters with vested interests who will attempt to ensure that the reforms do not take off the ground.

While responsible citizens’ comments and responses are relevant and necessary on reforms introduced, the Nation can do without distractive, emotional and irresponsible outbursts by some quarters, especially if they are mischievously couched in ethnic or religious terms. These kind of reactions are not only counter productive but dangerously anti National as it systematically stops the Nation from progressing forward. How do you manage this so that reforms are not frustrated?

Reforms, particularly if they are radical in nature will certainly unsettle some quarters. Often, reforms that are necessary for the long term good of the Nation may involve short term “sacrifices” and disturbance of comfort zones. It is foreseeable that due to these short term effects, the reform proposals may be unpopular among the affected group. It becomes worrisome when such groups are able to manipulate and politicise the reforms such that the reform efforts are scuttled. This becomes totally unjust to the majority common citizen and to the Nation as a whole. Once again, the Rapera has to address how to approach and manage these irresponsible minority, in whatever guise they may present themselves.

We all can accept that to the majority common citizen, democracy seem to imply nothing more than the right to vote every 5 years. After that, the common citizen seems to be at the mercy of politicians on both side of the divide who appear to be doing whatever befits their sustenance of political power under the dubious cry of “democracy”.

As the IGP correctly pointed out, democracy cannot equal “demo-crazy”. Of course the right to assembly peacefully is enshrined in the constitution. Many times in this country, a courteous complaint to the relevant authorities does not seem to work because of the “little napoleon” or “feudal lord” mentality. Hence, some citizens may want to express thier complaint to the rest of the citizens via a public demonstration. I think, within reasonable public policy constraints, this is perfectly acceptable and healthy. In an ironcial way, this is one of the ways “the rakyat can bekerja bersama-sama” the government.

The police, however must maintain law and order. They should, except in exceptional cases, automatically approve permits for assembly and safeguard the rights of these citizens to demonstarte their case peacefully with no or minimal disocmfort to the other citizens. The police should remember that they are equally entrusted with the responsibility of safeguarding the practice of democracy and constituional provisions. Careful thought should be applied as to how best to allow citizens to express themselves without causing damge to other citizen’s interests and well being. Again, life is about balance.

What about mischief makers in the name of democracy? I think this is one area that should not be politicised and the culprits must be dealt with in accordance with the due process of the law. There must be firm and just management of law and order. We cannot afford a lawless state.

Politicians tend to forget that “democracy” as a system cannot be merely for the benefit of politicians alone for the sole purpose of political power pursuits. Surely the end result of democracy must be the ‘general well being’ of the people. This general well being translated must include the right to live peacefully, right to earn an income, education, etc. as well as the right to exercise responsibility as a citizen of the Nation for the well-being of the nation. In this context, I humbly submit that the exceptional treatment that is perceived to be given to politicians to “flaunt democracy” at the expense of the well being of the People should seriously be addressed. For this you require a professional and objective police force.

It is my concern that if we do not address the issue of firm and just management of law and order, the country may become fragmented into political tribes, reforms will not be allowed to bear fruit, ethnic and religious bigotry will rear its ugly head, and so on. If this happens, then 1Malaysia will merely become “a concept that once was”.

I do not think we want to evolve into a Nation of “rights” without responsibilities. Life is about balance.

Ordinanry citizens should be allowed to live thier life peacefully. There must be firm and just management of law and order to enable this.


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