Monday, March 07, 2016

Signing a Mahathirism document when he's yet to be held accountable for his actions?

And now a word or two from V Gayathry, former South-East Asian Press Alliance (Seapa) executive director, as reported by Malaysiakini, on why he (like Charles Santiago of DAP) refused to sign up with Mahathir's Declaration:



Why I reject the Citizens’ Declaration

My beef has turned into curry, together with the sedated social media conversation.

I expect political parties to make negotiations and compromises, sometimes wrongly, but they do have a constituency and I do believe in the power of the elections - through which I can tell them what I think.

Now, with the NGOs, it’s another story. Who are they accountable to? How can they be effective checks and balances if they sit at the same table - not to discuss implementation of reforms, but merely to offer legitimacy to what I think is an undemocratic group?

You can’t be leaders of influential movements and claim to be individuals only in this political move.

Of course, I acknowledge that we are not being forced to sign the declaration so we shouldn’t need to make all this noise.

However, NGOs cannot make political decisions and expect not to be criticised - especially if their supporters feel that they have acted with little accountability.

These are my three background settings:

The Bersih committee had met to discuss their strategy. We know the outcome.

What I would like to know is if there were dissenting voices, and how many? And did the wider community of NGOs discuss the declaration and the strategies post-declaration?

I think the answer is no, but I’m happy to hear otherwise.

Anyhow, hundreds of thousands of people have responded over the years to the call of Bersih on the streets, online, in cash or in kind. I figure they/we are far more important than Mahathir.

The BN government, as well as its machinery, is rotten to the core. It has to go.

As Ambiga once responded to a critic, that Mahathir has taken them for a ride, with: “We are not that stupid” - this is my response to those who feel they have to lecture us on the bad situation of the country, and thus justifying the move: “We are not that stupid, either.”

The Pakatan leadership has showed anything but leadership. They have done some good administrative work, but in critical political situations, they crumble. I would not hedge my bets on them all the time.

Four reasons why I won’t be signing the declaration

1) The main beneficiary is Umno. By involving their stalwarts and using the language of reform (which was minimal in the document), they want to present themselves as the “reformers” or the conscience of the party.

Mukhriz’s statement just proves what they really wanted out of this - and that is to remove his nemesis so he can be in power. For that, they could have organised a petition among the Mahathir-loyal diehards in Umno and do what they want.

And what does the BN cohort bring to the table that has tilted the power equation for the civil society? I care not for Umno and BN, and have always wished for them to self-implode.

So, I will not sign the declaration to give Mukhriz, Muhyiddin and Mahathir (from 2M to 3M) any legitimacy.

2) Where was the consultation, really? And no, it’s not so urgent that consultation had to be compromised. Many of us have put voices and fingerprints on calls for reforms, and I firmly believe the process is as important as the outcome.

To me, this People’s Declaration is closer to what I think of a united and representative voice - one drawn up collectively.

The 1986 People’s Declaration for Democracy (during Mahathir’s rule) was a result of a People’s Assembly, an open and consultative process. I support that.

The Bersih demands are also a result of consultation and a determined campaign, which I fully support, but not this Mahathirism document - which appears to have been done quickly and quietly.

So, I will not sign the declaration that was not conceived of openly, and with little citizens’ input.

3) The ‘what is the alternative’ argument is a false choice. It is not this or nothing at all. We have options and we can mobilise through different means.

Yes, some people would rather not have demonstrations, but it is a legitimate form of political expression; as are campaigns and continuous political pressure - they all work in combination.

Hence, I take offence at those in support of the declaration initiative whose retorts are that the rest of us are doing nothing, or that people who stake their claims on the elections are not really empowered.

Belittling your allies - and worse still, citizens - is not the hallmark of a strong civil society.

This declaration may be a path for some, but please do not present it as the only option available at this point. So, I will not sign the declaration as I will be taking other paths available to me.

4) A rather sensitive issue has also come up - the endorsement of those who have suffered in the hands of Mahathir, and who have said they are willing to let go to focus on the big picture.

I have always been inspired by the activists and politicians who fought for and paid with their freedoms. That they have decided to forgive Mahathir and let the past be, must have taken tremendous strength on their part.

We admire them for that; but there are many who have suffered in different ways, and to different extents as a result of an unjust system. The accountability needs to have a face and a mechanism for those who have been wronged, to seek justice.

The short-term letting go needs to be turned into a proper form of holding those in power, responsible. A formal reconciliation process is needed for so many ghosts of the past. That hasn’t happened yet, and doesn’t seem to be on offer.

Mahathir has not been held accountable for his actions. It is not enough for me to hear how a few have said that they forgive him, to justify this declaration of Mahathirism. So, I will not sign it.


  1. First Things First.

    Asking people to keep quiet on Najib when he is at this very moment still stealing the Rakyat's money ?

    PODAH !

  2. In fact Najib has successfully bet that Malaysians are stupid.

    Or at least incapable of understanding how RM 2.6 Billions of Their money was shunted around multiple shell companies around the world, before ending up in Najib's personal bank account.

    For those who don't know, a shell company is a registered but hollow corporation, with no real business operations, but exist to act as a recipient and/or payee of secret funds transactions.

    That is why there is such a lack of outrage in the country over 1MDB, including activists such as V Gayathry and MPs such as Charles Santiago.

    Because of the lack of outrage, many of those who have existing axes to grind against Mahathir are shouting out in anger - how could you sit down at the same table to sup with the Devil ?

  3. One of the consequences of the Friday charade is the talk of bringing Mahathir to account for his past misdeeds. This talk is not from UMNO which have so far been quietly letting the rebels score their own goals.

    Why now? The electorate had gone through 5 elections under Mahathir; they had 5 chances when they could have easily censured Mahathir by putting the X on the ballot paper. The electorate consented to the Mahathir misdeeds then so they have to accept the responsibility for it. And they consented spectacularly with overwhelming majorities. The electorate only showed their displeasure with Mahathir in 2004 by way of giving BN a landslide victory as a parting shot.

    On the subject of bringing Mahathir to accountability : Who is going to do it? BN-UMNO? This is not going to happen, as Mahathir was the personification of BN-UMNO and what he did was in line with BN-UMNO policies. Wouldn't this be a futile wait?

    "We have options and we can mobilise through different not present it as the only option available at this point. " - Yes, do let the public have these options other than this Friday charade. If this is about 3rd choices of parties other than the present 1st and 2nd protagonist parties, the record is not encouraging.

    The one real option is GE14 (provided it is not NSC'ed). It would be interesting to see how the situation develops these coming 2 -1/2 years. Likely, the incumbent would have played on fears like DAP-in-Putrajaya, "better the devil you know than the angel you don't" (once
    used by Mahathir in one election), and it will be business-as-usual.

  4. I suppose you will be signing the "Respect My PM" declaration instead....

  5. I forgive Mahathir
    I forgive Anwar
    I forgive Najib

    Forgiveness is divine...

  6. In the aftermath of the "Citizen's Declaration", Najib UMNO-loyalists have gone berserk, accusing Mahathir and supporters of Collaborating with DAP, basically "Sleeping with the Enemy".

    Opposition figures who signed up have been accused by THEIR side of betraying the cause by working with Mahathir.

    Adding it all up, it sounds like those who did sign up did the right thing taking the middle Path.

  7. The efforts to make the current administration accountable for its recent actions have morphed into an effort to make a previous administration accountable for its own actions.

    Oh, better still, let's get physical, let the old doctor get a taste of his own medicine :
    "... Ramesh said if Mahathir joins a protest, police should lock up and beat up the former premier. 'Let him (Mahathir) get beat up like I was (during the 1998 reformasi rally). Beat him up until his teeth fall out,' Ramesh told the media outside the Petaling Jaya district police headquarters. ..."