Home Civil Society Voices Where are the reforms we were promised?

Where are the reforms we were promised?

ANIL NETTO/ALIRAN

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We, the undersigned, want to express our grave concern and disappointment at the government’s continued backtracking on its reform agenda.

The recent decision by the Attorney General’s Chambers to grant a “discharge not amounting to an acquittal” to [Umno president] Zahid Hamidi in relation to the 47 charges involving millions of ringgit in connection with Yayasan Akal Budi, is the latest in a series of indefensible actions by the current administration since the formation of the Pakatan Harapan-Barisan National government.

The decision to take such action despite a prima facie case having been established raises serious questions about the government’s commitment and ability to govern our country with integrity and in accordance with our Federal Constitution and the rule of law.

The decision will result in an erosion of public trust and confidence in our institutions, particularly in the Attorney General’s Chambers’ competence to investigate matters thoroughly and impartially so that we can hold corrupt elites accountable for their conduct.

The 11 reasons cited by the chambers to justify its position are not convincing in the least, and demonstrate a tragic waste of taxpayers’ money in what has become a futile exercise in integrity, accountability, transparency and trust.

Furthermore, the decision to discharge Zahid from such serious charges suggests a disturbing departure from the principle of equality, and sends a dangerous message that those in positions of power and influence can act with impunity, and escape accountability for their actions. This perception of a two-tier justice system – one for the elite and another for the masses -, is corroding the very foundation of our democracy and undermining people’s faith in the rule of law and good governance.

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Since November 2022, we have witnessed a slew of actions which undermine our trust and confidence in the prime minister and his government, whose promises of reforms to uphold our fundamental freedoms and human rights have come to nought. This has been demonstrated regularly by the constant backtracking on promises to review, amend or repeal draconian laws such as the Sedition Act, the Printing Presses and Publications Act, and the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act.

There has also been an increased stifling of our freedom of expression, including censorship of media and other online content, banning of films and publications, restrictions on academic freedom, and infringements on gender-based expressions.

There has also been no visible commitment or action to pursue institutional reforms, including making the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) independent and accountable only to Parliament, and establishing an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission, as demanded by civil society to replace the watered-down Independent Police Conduct Commission. Prior to Zahid’s conditional discharge, the reform calling for the separation of the attorney general from the public prosecutors’ office was nowhere to be seen until recently when it was announced by the law minister.

Our expectations, which are in line with the multitude of promises made during the election campaigns leading up to the last general elections, are that our ministers and government agencies will promote the development of an educated, informed society of critical thinkers who are fully equipped with contemporary skills and knowledge so that we can compete in the global arena. As voters and taxpayers we have a right to be informed in decisions about how public resources are used equitably and distributed fairly.

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This crisis of confidence in the government’s ability to deliver on its reform agenda must be dealt with, and in order to enhance accountability and transparency, we demand the following:

  • The establishment of an independent committee to reaffirm and develop a detailed roadmap (including timelines) of the current government’s reform priorities. This independent committee should include civil society representatives and build on the recommendations made by the institutional reforms committee established in 2018
  • Immediately separate the roles of attorney general and public prosecutor and establish a mechanism to ensure that the appointment of public prosecutors is independent of political interference
  • Reaffirm, without delay, the government’s plans to review, amend or repeal all arbitrary and oppressive laws that restrict our human rights and freedom of expression, and
  • Reaffirm, without delay, the government’s plans for institutional reforms in relation to an independent MACC and Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission

Sign the online petition and write to the PM to reiterate the call for accountability by following the links below:

Petition in English

Petisyen dalam bahasa Melayu

中文请愿书

Signatories:

  1. Centre for Independent Journalism
  2. Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor
  3. Beyond Borders
  4. Agora Society Malaysia
  5. Empower
  6. Society for the Promotion of Human Rights (Proham)
  7. Our Journey
  8. Gabungan Bertindak Malaysia (GBM)
  9. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram)
  10. Aliran
  11. Kuala Lumpur & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall Civil Right Committee (KLSCAH CRC)
  12. Tenaganita
  13. North South Initiative (NSI)
  14. Geutanyoe Aceh
  15. Pertubuhan Harapan Al-Ikhlas Kuala Lumpur dan Selangor
  16. Altsean-Burma
  17. Myanmar Ethnics Organization
  18. Refugee Emergency Fund (REF)
  19. Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM)
  20. Pemuda Sosialis (PSM’s youth wing)
  21. Persatuan Umany
  22. Suara Siswa Universiti Malaya
  23. Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall Youth
  24. Selangor and Kuala Lumpur Hokkien Association Youth Section
  25. Pertubuhan Anak Muda Maju
  26. Instant Cafe Theatre
  27. Parastoo Theatre
The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

AGENDA RAKYAT - Lima perkara utama
  1. Tegakkan maruah serta kualiti kehidupan rakyat
  2. Galakkan pembangunan saksama, lestari serta tangani krisis alam sekitar
  3. Raikan kerencaman dan keterangkuman
  4. Selamatkan demokrasi dan angkatkan keluhuran undang-undang
  5. Lawan rasuah dan kronisme
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