Democracy cannot be restricted to participation in elections every four or five years to a group of ‘professional politicians’ acquiring power. Rather, it should be about the conscientisation and empowerment of the rakyat, says Francis Loh in our cover story.
Still, the way elections are carried out is also important. We carry more submissions to the Parliamentary Select Committee on Electoral Reforms. This time P Ramakrishnan calls for fixed dates for elections, anti-hopping rules, and automatic voter registration.
The press too needs more freedom to operate. But for this to happen, more support is needed not just from press freedom activists but from a broader spectrum of society, says Ross Tapsell. Soon Chuan Yean showcases Penang Forum 4, a continuing initiative to broaden public participation in local democracy, good governance and decision-making in development.
Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah looks back at the evolution of the Malaysian economy. Malaysians, he says, need to examine our political economy to find out if there has been a fusion of money politics and the neo-liberal policies – the worst of both worlds.
We also need to break barriers and become a more inclusive society. With this in mind, Mustafa K Anuar takes to task those intent on dividing society and promoting exclusivism while stressing the universality of Islam.
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On a related note, Wong Chin Huat reviews ‘Building bridges, crossing boundaries’, a book edited by Francis Loh that looks at everyday forms of inter-ethnic peace building in Malaysia.