Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Dr Mahathir must admit past wrongs, civil society says or ‘No’ to Najib ouster

Civil society leaders say they want an acknowledgement from Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad that he was responsible for the erosion of country's institutions before they can consider joining his agenda to remove Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak. The former prime minister must also make a commitment to holistic reforms, as the current flawed system was to blame for ongoing scandals involving the country's leadership. Any plan to oust Najib must also include institutional reforms, they said, or removing the prime minister without addressing systemic chance would be pointless. Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) director Cynthia Gabriel said the move to remove Najib must include long-term structural reforms. "If it is just to replace Najib with Zahid and then business as usual for Umno, we will only be putting our country in further jeopardy," she told The Malaysian Insider, in reference to Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi. "Removing Najib alone will not allow us to come on board. We need to cut the tree and its roots, we need systemic change. "And we need a clarion call from Dr Mahathir that the changes he plans to lead must be holistic, incorporating openness and accountability in government, measures to cut corruption and uphold the rule of law." On that note, Cynthia said it was crucial for the former prime minister to acknowledge his actions during his 22-year rule which destroyed the independence of Malaysian institutions. "Our proposal is for him to acknowledge his wrongs from his long tenure and make a public admission that he did traverse many human rights rules and destroyed the independence of our institutions, and that he, indeed, regrets his actions. "That is the only way we can move forward as citizens," she said. Dr Mahathir, who stepped down as prime minister in 2003, is both praised and criticised for modernising Malaysia as well as for eroding civil and political freedoms. On Monday, the retired statesman decided to quit Umno in protest against Najib whom he has been criticising for more than a year. He mooted the idea of a "core group" who shared the same goal of ousting the prime minister. But electoral reform coalition Bersih 2.0 chairman Maria Chin Abdullah said Dr Mahathir must also share the blame for the transgressions seen in high office today. "For instance, the PM holding the finance minister position has had past record, and it is being continued by Najib," she said, in reference to Dr Mahathir starting the current practice of the prime minister also holding the finance portfolio which he did at different points during his tenure. "And now particularly, when investigations are on how finances in the country are being managed and the billions allegedly found in Najib's personal accounts, (the prime minister) should not be holding the finance minister position," she said. Maria said even when Bersih held its fourth rally last August to demand Najib's resignation, it had set clear conditions that there had to be institutional reforms. "We don't want a new leader but then corruption and abuse of power still exists as a result of the system not being fixed. "Because then we can change the prime minister 10 times over but the country will still be in the same state we are in now," she told The Malaysian Insider. As such, whoever wanted to get rid of Najib must have a larger plan for reforms, she said. "If you look at history from Dr Mahathir's time, when (Tun Abdullah Ahmad) Badawi came into power, he said he had some reforms, when Najib came, he also said there would be reforms, but we don't see any of it happening." Long-time activist and former PKR deputy president Dr Syed Husin Ali lauded plans for a new movement to remove Najib. "It's a good sign that people are coming together to change the leadership. "But it is not enough to replace Najib, we have to change the corrupt and cruel system as well. "It has to happen together as it is the system that allows him to do this." Opposition politicians have so far reacted positively to Dr Mahathir's call to join forces for Najib's ouster, saying they were aware of the conflicting agendas regarding reforms and the fact that the retired statesman still wanted to see Umno remain in power. On that score, Maria said they would only make a decision whether to join Dr Mahathir in his bid to remove Najib after meeting with the non-governmental organisations under the Bersih 2.0 coalition next week. – March 3, 2016.]]>

No comments:

Post a Comment