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The road ahead

Graphic: csj-ng.org

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Aliran would like to take this opportunity to commend the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government on the astounding speed at which they have moved since setting up the new government less than three weeks ago.

Malaysians have witnessed the setting up the Council of Eminent Persons (though it remains unclear what the terms of reference are), the formation of the Committee on Institutional Reforms announced by the council, and the selection of cabinet members.

A special task force to look into 1MDB has been established and investigations have commenced.

Announcements have been made about institutional reform, for example establishing an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) and the review and repeal of laws that run contrary to a human rights framework.

Yesterday Malaysians heard news of the dissolution of five government bodies and committees: the National Council of Professors, the Federal Village Development and Safety Committees (JKKKP), the Prime Minister’s Department’s Performance and Delivery Unit (Pemandu), the Special Affairs Department (Jasa) and the Land Public Transport Commission (Spad).

Aliran recognises the mammoth task ahead of the PH government. The PH government was not handed a clean slate to work from. Instead, it has to clean up decades of mess left behind (arising from the blatant abuse of power by the previous government) and move the country forward at the same time. For a newly formed coalition, it is an enormous challenge on all fronts.

In unravelling the massive web of deceit and corruption, hopefully the truth will emerge from the investigations being carried out and those guilty of transgressions will be held to account. It is here that Aliran would like to stress that it is the duty of the PH government to abide by the rule of law and ensure due process is followed, as has also been mentioned by others.

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If the PH government is serious about holding the alleged wrongdoers to account for their actions in a court of law, then care must be taken to ensure that all investigations are conducted professionally, that all leaks to the press and unnecessary media statements or comments are curtailed, and that trial by media does not take place.

All the above can ultimately jeopardise a case being built against alleged wrongdoers. Although there may be a need to move quickly, it is vital that the due process of the rule of law be allowed to take its course.

If we are to lift Malaysia out of the septic tank of poor governance in which it has been wallowing for quite a while now, we must adhere to the principles of good governance and the rule of law. The Attorney General’s Chambers and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, for example, must be given space to operate completely independently without any form of political interference. Any decisions being made need to be impartial and to be seen to be impartial, for instance in the ongoing Lim Guan Eng court case.

More than ever, there is the need to raise and maintain high standards of good governance and ethical behaviour on all fronts. The country needs this.

Aliran once again commends the PH government for the many steps being taken to right the wrongs done over the previous decades. Aliran will continue to reiterate the principles of good governance including the rule of law and due process as the guiding principles for the way forward in this new phase of our country’s history.

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Aliran executive committee
24 May 2018

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