Genuine people-centred reforms and greater respect for human rights and civil liberties in Malaysia remain an illusion. Instead what we see are publicity stunts, slogans and spin, says Martin Jalleh as he takes us on a tour of the major areas of concern in the country.
The economy, while serving fabulous wealth for a few, has also seen a capital flight. Leaders remain in denial or indulge in flip-flops on economic policy as they tout farcical reforms. The economy drifts along listlessly in the face of scandalous losses suffered by GLCs while mismanagement, ‘leakages’ and the squandering of public funds have reached alarming levels. Even as the country’s debt level rises, the bureaucracy remains bloated, bleeding the fiscal budget. Many Malaysians voted with their feet, as they emigrated to greener pastures.
Faced with this grim scenario, the institutions of democracy have been unable to rise to the occasion. Parliament is pathetic and powerless, weighed down by Executive dominance. The Attorney General has been reduced to a caricature of absurdity and arrogance, his double-standards evident to many. Public confidence in the police has plummeted. The demonstration of ‘self-strangulation’ by the MACC’s legal head epitomised the state of the anti-graft body while the judiciary sank to new lows, its impartiality apparently compromised.
On a different note, Angeline Loh discusses if Malaysians are ready to take on the ‘no plastic bags’ challenge while Wong Chin Huat reviews Francis Loh’s book ‘Old vs New Politics in Malaysia’.