Thursday, 2 January 2014

Lesons in democracy

Sin Chew Jit Poh
3 January 2014
Oh dear, oh dear. It seems that even as we begin the year 2014 and we are now deep into the 21st century, there are still those amongst us who do not understand the meaning of the word democracy. I think it is only right that these poor uninformed souls are given a short course on what it means to be a democratic country.


Let me begin with some basics. In a democracy, the people get to choose their leaders. If they don’t like a person or a party, then they don’t vote for them. In fact, even before any elections, they are very free to say they don’t like a leader or a party. To oppose a political party is part and parcel of a democracy. Just because one does not agree with the ruling party does not mean they have to leave the country.


Are you listening, most venerable Wanita UMNO Chief?


Secondly, in a democracy, you must accept criticisms as well as toadying. Some people will love you and worship you like you are some sort of divine being. Others may think you are simply awful. Both views must be allowed to be aired. You can’t just take what you like and shut down what you don’t like. So if a newspaper makes a report that is not flattering to your heavenly leader and his even more heavenly wife, this does not give you the excuse to shut that newspaper down.


Are you listening, most wise Minister of Home Affairs?


Finally, I just want to say, in case there are those who just think that democracy means elections and nothing else; to assemble and to protest is also a democratic right. So if a group of people want to get together and say, quite reasonably I think, that the recent price hikes in this country is harmful to the citizens of Malaysia and that they are very angry about it, then it is their right to do so.


Any limitation on this right to assemble has to be very prudently enforced. Saying that the holding of a protest on New Year’s Eve is disrespectful to the celebration of New Year and thus should not be held, is a very odd statement and really is a ridiculous reason to try to stop people from simply practicing their human right.


Are you listening, most respected Gerakan Youth Chief?


Alas, I don’t think any of these people will listen nor will they care. Those who are de facto in charge of this nation, seem to be simply incapable of accepting that if you want to call ourselves a democracy (a world class democracy as a certain leader has been recorded as saying), then you must accept dissent.


If you can’t accept dissent you then have two choices. Stop being a hypocrite, throw away any pretence that we are living in a democracy and oppress the people by totally disregarding their inalienable human rights.


Or, (and this is my hope for the new year), admit that you are too weak and too soft to take criticism, resign from office and retreat from public life and surround yourself with good friends and family who will do nothing but praise you and your amazingness.


Happy New Year everyone!

1 comment:

Shilin said...

Everytime I read Azmi Sharom's articles it gives me hope-there's still sanity in Malaysia. Thanks moderator for collecting his writings.