I had been talking about the ‘morning after’ that how the civil society and concerned citizens should recover and soldier on to overcome the letdown from electoral upset. That was the lesson learned in 1999 and 1990.
Such fear is certainly gone now.
My “morning after” was however neither exciting. I have had a new fear.
I woke up to the unromantic reality after all the ecstasies in that passionate night.
I can’t help asking myself one question. Is such massive victory for the opposition good for democratization in Malaysia?
The five state governments in Selangor, Penang, Perak, Kedah and Kelantan have now tremendous power to bring real changes. If they do not fumble, the opposition is set to take the federal power come next election. Anwar Ibrahim is set to be Malaysia’s 7th Prime Minister (I think Abdullah will negotiate for a dignified exit soon like Tunku did).
Why should they do more for democratization on issues like local elections, freedom of information laws, real electoral reform (beyond catching phantoms) if they can win without doing all these?
They will do it if they are real democrats, if they believe the most important change is not about who to govern and make decisions, but about how the governments are elected and how decisions are made.
Are they really committed to democratization?
This is what I have read today on the five states:
Keadilan MB-designate Khalid Ibrahim said that Selangor would “enact a law that enabled the government to be free from the restrictions of the Official Secrets Act” (NST, 20080310, P13) I suppose he refers to some sort of a Freedom of Information Enactment. Bravo!
As for local elections, Khalid said “we need more discussion. We accepted such idea. But at this stage, we will focus on the amendment of laws.” (Oriental Daily, 20080310, A8) We do not know what those laws were from the report.
Tony Pua, DAP’s new PJ Utara MP who is technically not part of the new Selangor State Government, said the new Government will do its best to democratize local governments. “We will improve the mechanism in local governments, such as increasing government tenders, [improving] the transparency of accounts and competitiveness. We need to be accountable to voters and tax payers.” (Sin Chew, 20080310, A8) No mention at all about local elections in his talk on democratization of local governments.
DAP CM-Designate Lim Guan Eng refused to respond to questions on the list of Exco members, adjustments of portfolios and whether to reintroduce local elections on the ground that the new government has not sworn in. (Oriental Daily, 20080310, A4)
The news focused on the new MB-designate from PAS and the limitation in State Constitution which disallows a non-Malay MB unless exempted by the Sultan. No reform agenda is mentioned. We don’t know if there will be a freedom of information enactment or local elections soon in Perak.
PAS President stole the limelight by talking about Hudud laws in Kedah. (See Bernama’s report in my previous post.) His party colleague Dr Syed Azman later accused the mainstream media of misreporting and claimed that “nothing was said about Hudud in Kedah to that extent.”
As in Perak, we don’t know if there will be a freedom of information enactment or local elections soon in Kedah.
This is a state where an Opposition party ruled for 18 years yet still failed to introduce local elections or freedom of information laws. No signs of change from the news.
Sorry if I am spoiling your party or honey-moon. It is not romantic at all to start questioning in the morning after whether your new lover will keep her/his sweet promises.
Of course, I understand well that yesterday was only the first day after their victory. It is too early to judge a new government what it says before it is even officially sworn in. They may just turn out to be the best state governments we have ever had.
I decide to return to my upbeat mood about the change.
But I shall never forget how Pak Lah’s grand promises for reforms in 2004 – or Mahathir’s pledge to be “Bersih, Cekap, Amanah” in 1982 for that matter – turned out to be a great let down.