Wishlist for Barisan Rakyat

UPDATE: This post was published as a letter in Malaysiakini.

The 8th of March 2008 will go down as a proud and historic day for all Malaysians – the day that the politics of race and fear were dealt a stunning blow by Malaysians of all races, colours and creeds. It was also the day on which Malaysians sent out a message to all political parties in the country – pay heed to what we say or you will be voted out. The next five years will tell us just how well Malaysia’s political parties understood this message.

The hard work of meeting the people’s expectations must now begin. There is much to do and it is somewhat bewildering as to where to start. I thought I could help by coming out with a list of suggestions in ten areas that I believe should, even during these very early days, be at the top of the Barisan Rakyat coalition’s agenda. Many of the points I have included should come as no surprise as many of them have already been promised by the various component parties of Barisan Rakyat.

While I am directing this list primarily to Barisan Rakyat, I don’t believe the rakyat would complain if Barisan Nasional also choose to adopt any or all of these items into their agenda. In fact, if they hope to fare even better in the next General Election, I would encourage Barisan Nasional to do so.

(1) The rule of law

Push for the use of all emergency laws and powers to be curtailed immediately – among others, the use of these laws includes the power to detain individuals indefinitely without trial, the power to arrest individuals without a warrant and the forced eviction of squatters. The continued arbitrary use of these laws undermines the rule of law and the need for the government to be transparent and accountable.

Push for the immediate release or charge of all Internal Security Act (ISA)detainees.

Push for the repeal or amendment of the ISA and other repressive laws as well as any other laws that contain ouster clauses, always being guided by the objectives of strengthening the rule of law, making the government more accountable and making government processes more transparent.

(2) The New Economic Policy (NEP) / National Development Policy (NDP)

Push to transform the NEP/NDP into a means tested benefit scheme that will assist the poorest sections of Malaysian society, irrespective of ethnicity, religion or political persuasion.

(3) Minimum wage

As promised by PKR, push for the implementation of a minimum wage in Malaysia. Other developing countries including Vietnam, Thailand, Sri Lanka and China have already introduced minimum wage legislation. Research by the International Labour Organisation has found that the introduction of a minimum wage does not have a negative effect on employment and is a proven method of reducing poverty in developing countries.

(4) Assets of those holding public office

Lead by example: Have all Barisan Rakyat Members of Parliament and State Legislators publicly declare their assets. This should be able to instituted fairly quickly provided the political will is there.

(5) Corruption

Push to have the Anti Corruption Agency (ACA) report to Parliament instead of the Prime Minister.

Push for the further prosecution of any corrupt politicians/civil servants and former politicians/civil servants whilst ensuring that investigations and any subsequent prosecutions are made as transparent as possible.

(6) The Judiciary

Push for the immediate establishment of a Judicial Appointments Committee to restore confidence in the Malaysian Judiciary and to ensure that the best and brightest people are appointed to the Bench.

Article 121(1) is an amendment to the Federal Constitution that effectively made the Judiciary subservient to Parliament (and by extension, the Executive). Barisan Rakyat MPs should push for the amendment of Article 121 (1) so that the power of the courts is once again derived from the Federal Constitution instead of Parliament. This is in keeping with the Separation of Powers doctrine which advocates an independent Executive, Legislature and Judiciary.

(7) Local Council Elections

Lead by example by taking steps to institute Local Council Elections in Barisan Rakyat controlled states as soon as possible.

(8) The Royal Malaysian Police (RMP)

To restore the reputation of the RMP and restore public confidence in the RMP, push for the establishment of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission.

(9) Freedom of expression

Promote robust and responsible public debate on all issues of public interest to Malaysians – a good starting point would be to push to allow Malaysiakini to sell their newspaper in printed form across Malaysia.

(10) Implement a scorecard system

A number of the points mentioned above are consistent with the People’s Declaration – a statement which was endorsed by all the component parties of Barisan Rakyat. In serving the people of Malaysia, please remember to adhere to the principles that you endorsed.

Over and above this, to ensure that you remain responsive and in touch with the needs and desires of the people market research should be carried out as soon as possible to determine the particular needs of the people within individual constituencies. The results of this research should be made public and serve as a scorecard (or in management parlance, Key Performance Indicators) for each elected representative. It would be advisable for each elected representative to make public exactly how they intend to meet the needs of their constituents.

Needless to say, this is not an exhaustive list. There is much more that can be done to ensure that Malaysia is able to reach its full potential. However, I believe the above suggestions in the ten areas are excellent starting points and their implementation will ensure that Malaysia’s New Dawn remains dazzlingly bright.

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One Response to “Wishlist for Barisan Rakyat”

  1. Wishlist for Barisan Rakyat UPDATE « Legitimate Expectations Says:

    […] Expectations Because I Know I’m Not Asking For That Much. « Wishlist for Barisan Rakyat Kamariah Ali […]

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