Democracy in Malaysia

I spoke in parliament today about democratisation movements in Malaysia.
Bersih 2.0
7 July 2011

Elections are the best way we have yet devised to choose representatives of the people, and to hold leaders accountable. Malaysia has a parliamentary system, one that has now functioned for more than 50 years but without the ruling National Front ever having experienced defeat at the national level. Belief in the integrity of the electoral system is crucial for Malaysia's stability and prosperity.

Bersih—which literally means clean—is a coalition of organisations that believe that the government appointed electoral commission must urgently address policies, regulations and procedures that allow electoral outcomes to be corrupted and the wishes of the people to be no longer accurately reflected in parliament. Whilst it is understandable that the ruling National Front sees itself as 'the government' and utters forebodings that its defeat would harm the country, Malaysia is a much more prosperous and advanced country than its naysayers might suggest.

Bersih 2.0, led by a former president of the Malaysian Bar Council, has agreed to forgo the major street demonstration scheduled for 9 July and accept a compromise to hold its rally in a stadium. I hope Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak will order the immediate release from detention of MP Jeyakumar Devaraj and all those who have been arrested simply for wearing yellow or expressing support for the process of electoral reform.

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