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Anwar Ibrahim

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Anwar Ibrahim


15 years after being sacked as DPM, Anwar still looks to the future

Posted: 01 Sep 2013 10:25 PM PDT

TMI

Fifteen years ago today, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (pic) went to office as Malaysia’s second most powerful man but left hours later sacked from the job of deputy prime minister and finance minister.

Since then, he has had a black eye and a back problem from being beaten up in a police cell, spent six years in jail for sodomy and corruption and caused the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) to lose their two-thirds super majority in parliament twice.

Now 66 and a grandfather, Anwar cuts a trim figure as the parliamentary opposition leader and Pakatan Rakyat de facto chief and remains very much as popular as he was when in government.

“I still remember every second of misery which I endured, what my wife, family and friends went through. I give thanks that it didn’t affect my peace of mind and I don’t feel hatred towards those who had attacked me.

“I only want to look forward,” he told The Malaysian Insider in a special interview in Kuala Lumpur over the weekend.

After he was sacked from public office, Anwar was free for 18 days before being arrested under the Internal Security Act (ISA) and later charged for sodomy and corruption.

On the day Anwar was fired, people from various levels of society including then PAS president the late Datuk Fadzil Mohd Nor visited his official residence across from Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s residence in Bukit Ledang to offer their moral support and sympathies.

Anwar then moved to his own residence in the leafy Bukit Damansara suburb, where almost every day until he was arrested, the house was filled with people who came from different walks of life, politicians, lawyers, journalists, foreign diplomats and the man in the street.

“I am thankful to Allah for giving me the opportunity to do something and to choose loyal friends, Fadzil being a good example. And also the present PAS leadership with president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang among other friends,” Anwar said.

His arrest galvanised the opposition and his supporters, who then joined forces under Fadzil’s leadership to form Gerak or Malaysia People’s Movement.

Since then, Malaysia’s politics has been anything but quiet and peaceful – all due to the fallout of what transpired on September 2, 1998.

For two consecutive elections, BN has lost the key two-thirds majority in Dewan Rakyat and even lost the popular vote in the May 5 general election this year.

Now there is talk of a unity government between BN and Anwar’s Pakatan Rakyat (PR) which failed to capture power despite winning the popular vote.

“Firstly, it’s untrue we have failed. Last month, I went to Istanbul, Turkey and met with leaders from Syria and Egypt including Sheikh Rashid Al-Ghannouchi from Tunisia. He told me, Anwar, there is no country where an oppressive system can succeed, if there are elections, everything will work out.

“From that point of view, I consider that I have enjoyed a major success. Yes, it’s true that we didn’t manage to form the government, but if we were to come to power using dirty and underhanded tactics, it wouldn’t feel right either,” he said.

Anwar also clarified news of a unity government being bargained between BN and PR after the opposition leader confirmed with the Asia Sentinel news portal that there have been overtures lately.

“The question of a unity government never cropped up at all. It has been mentioned, so for me there has to be certain concessions to agree on some basic policies," he said.

“This is what we have been preaching, this is what I’ve been preaching since 2008. I still remember my first speech as opposition leader was to voice out calls for a regular dialogue on basic issues, economic, crime prevention among others, because it was very necessary.”

But he said the government of the day has its work cut out for it in the present economic circumstances in the world.

“I don’t understand how the Umno leaders can live in comfort and think that everything is fine when the statistics tell a different figure,” Anwar said.

Going beyond dialogue with BN, Anwar also focused on cooperation among the three parties that make up PR – his PKR, DAP and PAS.

“We have heard views that in the aftermath of the general election, Pakatan Rakyat should continue to progress and not rest on their laurels. I agree, we should increase our cooperation.

“Some parties say DAP is comfortable because of strong Chinese support, that PAS should focus on the issue of Malay voters. For me, this doesn’t complicate matters or block our cooperation but in fact, this consensus among Pakatan Rakyat is something which is very critical not just to the party but to the country,” he said.

In the interview, Anwar also reiterated that PR was against any new delineation exercise for electoral constituencies until there was a change in leadership in the Election Commission (EC).

“We are firmly opposed to this because it is inconceivable that the Election Commission, with its dirty and tarnished record, is given the responsibility to carry out such a major task. It is illogical and we will fight this to the very end.

"It isn’t a question of two-thirds majority but about the credibility of the EC which has to be resolved. The issue of the electoral rolls hasn’t been settled until now, they should resolve that issue first. The solution doesn’t lie in replacing a commission secretary who is going to retire soon with someone new,” he said, adding the senior figures should be replaced and not the secretary.

[PROGRAM] Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim di Himpunan Solidariti Kemanusiaan

Posted: 01 Sep 2013 08:07 PM PDT

SYRIA

56 years later – a fractured, polarised nation

Posted: 31 Aug 2013 04:34 AM PDT

Malaysiakini

The social contract, social compact or bargain reached by the three communities under the watchful eye of the British imperial power as a condition to Merdeka was that in exchange for full citizenship, a right to use their language and observe their religion, the non-Malays had to concede special privileges to the Malays to assist the latter to ascend the economic ladder.

It was a quid pro quo. It was a consensus arrived after hard bargaining, and has formed the basis of nationhood. In this equilibrium, the non-Malays were not to be relegated to second-class citizens: citizenship was not on a two-tier basis and there was going to be no apartheid, partition or repatriation.

10 tahun merdeka movie 041007 actorWhat was required from the non-Malays at the time of Merdeka was undivided loyalty to the new nation. They could no longer owe their allegiance to the mother country, China or India. Racial differences were recognised. Diversity was encouraged. There was no pressure to integrate into one Malayan race.

A new nation was to be integrated over time, but as a plural society. Assimilation was out of the question. Thus, a united Malayan nation did not involve the sacrifice by any community of its religion, culture or customs. Minorities were not to be discriminated in a system of parliamentary democracy based on constitutional supremacy. In many respects, the establishment of Malaysia six years after Merdeka strengthened the social contract.

But as Malaya completes 56 years as an independent sovereign nation today, and more significantly, Malaysia turns half a century on Sept 16, do the 26 million Malaysians have reason to celebrate? Unfortunately, the popular response would be very much in the negative.

Twin forces

The twin forces of race and religion have substantially polarised the nation. Every issue of public life, however minor or insignificant, is given an ethnic undertone by politicians and the civil service, and glaringly publicised in the government-controlled mass media. Totally absent in the national landscape is a statesman like the Father of Merdeka, Tunku Abdul Rahman, the first prime minister, who is prepared to speak for the nation and the public weal, rather than from a parochial or sectarian perspective.

Even after the closest general election in our history, with the coalition governing the nation not enjoying majority popular vote, and with the next general election only due in five years, politicking of the worst kind continues daily.

The prime minister is not giving the leadership that he sought from the electorate, and which he received. With a 44-seat majority in the Dewan Rakyat, the BN government has a majority which is the envy of many governing coalitions across the globe. Yet, a sense of paralysis grips the centre.

Bread-and-butter issues which largely featured in the election campaign of four months ago, have still not been addressed at all. Not a day goes by without murders, rapes and armed robberies occurring in our homes and our streets. Rampant crime has undermined law and order.

The economy has been shaken by mounting debt; not just the national debt, but also consumer and corporate debt. Comparisons have already been made to the run-up to our 1997 financial crisis which was principally caused by a proliferation of debt.

Thousands of Malaysian companies and nationals speak with their wallets; they just take their money overseas in billions. Our currency has received a battering in the last month, resulting in speculation that Bank Negara may have to intervene to prevent further depreciation of the ringgit.

Bread-and-butter issues, as important as they are to the average Malaysian, still pale in comparison with the massive increase in ethnic tensions. What is the point of Talent Corporation spending hundreds of millions of taxpayers monies in an endeavour to attract Malaysians to return home when racial polarisation is on the increase in their nation.

Thousands of non-Malays have done brilliantly in businesses, professions and other private sector areas in Malaysia. They have flourished regionally and internationally in every society that values meritocracy. Hence there is a huge pool of talented non-Malays willing to be engaged in the public service.

Yet in their homeland, the civil service, the GLCs (government-linked companies), the universities, the army, the police – indeed senior positions in the entire public sector – are dominated by one race. How does one justify such massive hiring of personnel from one race to manage national institutions where national policies are made in a nation of multiple communities that claims there are no classes of citizenship or nationality.

Grand coalition

It is accordingly critical in the public interest that politicians of all parties cease polarising the nation any further.

All Malaysians must be treated with sensitivity and delicately. Feelings of communities, however weak and influential, must not be hurt. Hate speech must be avoided at all costs. The government must take the lead, after all the whole purpose of electing leaders is for them to lead the nation.

They must cease immediately playing the racial, religious and ethnic card, and take policy decisions that would promote a plural society. If all these actions can only be taken by a government of national unity, that is, a grand coalition of BN and Pakatan Rakyat parties, the national interest compels such an urgent outcome.

There is a genuine widespread concern that we must all play our part in rolling back the loud public discourse on race and religion. This is an awakening call. Unless remedial measures are taken soon, young Malaysians who have the world at their feet, will desert the nation because they feel they have no place under the Malaysian sun.

They are our future, but they see no future at home. That is the tragedy that must be avoided this 56th Merdeka, and this 50th Malaysia Day.

Barack W. Bush: Unilateral War In Syria

Posted: 31 Aug 2013 04:31 AM PDT

The National Interest

Barack W. Bush. Joe Cheney. Here they come. Girded for a war that the British took one look at and bailed out on before it even began. Announcing that they are prepared to go it alone. Who said that unilateralism went away with George W. Bush?

Obama said acting unilaterally was a bad thing when he campaigned for office in 2008. That was then. Obama, who has followed in Bush’s footsteps on national security surveillance measures, as the Washington Post’s extensive revelations about the reach of government spy agencies show today, is about to go to war again.

Vice-president Joe Biden sounds like Cheney redivivus when he declares that there is “no doubt” that Bashar al-Assad authorized the use of weapons of mass destruction. All that’s missing is a reference to yellow cake or the claim that this enterprise will be a cake walk. Meanwhile, the White House is engaging in magisterial Bush-speak, invoking the defense of the homeland: “The president of the United States is elected with the duty to protect the national security interests in the United States of America,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest. Well, yes. But this dodges the real question, which is: Will he be protecting America’s national security interests by attacking Syria? Or will he undermine them?

The strongest case for launching an attack centers on American crediblity and international norms. The shadow of the 1936 Italian invasion of Abyssinia when Mussolini employed chemical weapons and the League of Nations proved toothless looms large here. Writing in theFinancial Times, Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations,  says that strikes against airfields and a promise to supply moderate opposition forces would be a punitive response that “sends the message that use of chemical weapons will not be tolerated and will be costly for the regime.” But the Obama administration is simply asserting that it has the authority to embark on one and that Americans should trust its asseverations about the use of chemical weapons in Syria. As Obama put it, “we do have to make sure that when countries break international norms on weapons like chemical weapons that could threaten us, that they are held accountable.”

Both Democratic and Republican legislators remain skeptical. As the Los Angeles Times observes, “Lawmakers have become increasingly vocal on the need for congressional authorization of military action, and more than 160 House lawmakers, both Democrats and Republicans, have signed letters demanding a vote in Congress.” Maybe Obama can’t make the case because he doesn’t wholly believe it in himself. Obama himself has clearly been reluctant to embroil the United States in the Syrian conflict.

Thus his own plan for intervention seems quite limited–no no-fly-zone, no troops on the ground. It is more, you could say, about what it is not than about what it is. Which has frustrated the liberal hawks and neocons. Charles Krauthammer, for example, says that Obama is being shamed into war and needs to do more: “If Obama is planning a message-sending three-day attack, preceded by leaks telling the Syrians to move their important military assets to safety, better that he do nothing. Why run the considerable risk if nothing important is changed?”

In 2002 Obama called Iraq a “dumb war.” Is this one any smarter?

[PROGRAM] Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim Di JOHOR

Posted: 31 Aug 2013 04:19 AM PDT

Jadual Program Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim di Johor pada 1 september 2013 [Ahad]

1. Majlis Perkahwinan Anak Sdr Shukor Ayob (SU KeADILan Johor)
Masa: 2:30 tgh – 3:30 ptg
Alamat: No.4, Jalan Canggung 20, Tmn Pasir Putih, 81700 Pasir Gudang Johor
PIC: Syukor — 0127223135

2. Majlis Hi-Tea Anjuran AMK Johor
Masa : 4:30ptg – 6:30ptg
Alamat : 28, Jln Beladau 9, Taman Putri Wangsa, 81800 Ulu Tiram, Johor (KeADILan Cabang Tebrau)
PIC: Sdr Nazri — 0193502287/0127967422

3. Majlis Rumah Terbuka Eidulfitri DUN Bukit Batu bersama KeADILan Cabang Kulai
Masa: 8.30mlm – 11.30mlm
Tempat: Pejabat KeADILan Cabang Kulai, No 25-A, Taman Tropika, Kulai
PIC: Sdr Zabidie — 0137078739

PEJABAT DATO’ SERI ANWAR IBRAHIM

Repressive laws, human rights, and freedom of expression

Posted: 31 Aug 2013 04:14 AM PDT

BDINN

Mahmudur Rahman had spent prison time and suffered torture for contempt of court in the past. He was arrested the second time and tortured in police remand. His ideological opponents were thrilled at this and his supporters fought for him. There are, of course, a separate group of people who deem the violation of civil and human rights of any person unacceptable, including Mahmudur Rahman's civil and human rights. They made it known that they do not support the ideology and politics of Mahmudur Rahman but they nonetheless considered it vital to support his rights. That is why they protested against his arrest and suppression of his opinion. Without this kind of protests the state power can become a terrifying tool for repression. The powerful then put it into use and makes the society and state a place of fear. The state is not an institution outside of the society and it can make the lives of the people very difficult. When the ruling party will leave the government the opposition can come to power and make things difficult for the opposition. Civil and human rights are at the very core of building a democratic state. If these rights are not acknowledged as foundations of the state then the citizens cannot expect that they will be upheld by the government when they seek them.

 

A few things have become clear from observing the nature of civil and human rights violations in Bangladesh and from the reaction we see to those incidents. The people are mostly unaware why civil and human rights should be upheld and that is a matter of utmost importance. This is simply frightening. So when such an incident happens people are in the dark about its implications as to what that means constitutionally, legally, and politically. When we talk about the law we only talk about the law. There are certain procedures in law that needs to be maintained. It is the right of a citizen that those procedures will be maintained.

But the society at large is seemingly unable to go anywhere beyond hurling insults and obscenity each other. It is only expected that those who do not support Mahmudur Rahman will criticize him and those who do will defend him. But when someone is arrested the subject of debate is not just the accused but we must discuss the constitution, the law, state and the government. That is why we criticize when the government uses repressive laws to arrest citizens and we demand that those repressive laws are abolished. The rule of law does not mean the rule of repressive law. Similarly one should not accept a constitution that breaches civil and human rights. Just because someone is accused of something does not mean that the accused is guilty, particularly when the law against which the accused was charged is repressive in nature.

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Differences of opinion is a sign of a healthy society. But first it is important to realize that the political growth and progression of a society depends on the intellectual capacity of that society to identify and raise the right questions and engage with each other in a meaningful manner. One such pertinent question is whether the colonial law of 'contempt of court' is congruent with a democratic society. Is it a 'contempt' to criticize the court without obstructing the judicial procedure? Is it 'contempt' to criticize the unethical conduct of a judge? Are the judges above law? How should they be made accountable? These are the basics of a democratic society but we have repeatedly failed to address these.

 

I thought Mahmudur Rahman made a lot of enemies for himself. So, it is only expected that there will be a faction of powerful people who will want to punish him by any means they can conceive of, whether or not they are ethical. But the reaction to rights activist Adilur Rahman's arrest has made it clear that the sickness of our society goes deep down. I am not even sure what would be the cure for this. I don't know where this is taking us either. Instead of protesting the attempted kidnapping and the arrest of a human rights activist without any specific charges against him the opponents of Adilur Rahman justifying the action of the government by saying that the Odhikar report claiming 61 deaths is factually incorrect. So, he must be prosecuted under the Information & Communication Technology Act, 2006. If the report had been on the death of their ideological peers and not that of Hefazat-e-Islam men then there would not have been any uproar after the report from this particular quarter. Because Odhikar published other reports and no one suggested arresting its director. It should be recalled that the 'specific charges' against him have not yet been presented before the court but the police seized computers and other materials from his office.

 

If we agree for the sake of argument that the report is factually incorrect does that justify his arrest? Isn't section 57 of the Information & Communication Technology Act a repressive law? It was apparent that this law would be used to silence dissenting voices. Since the law has been enacted many people wrote against it warning about the danger of it. There is strong public opinion against it. Adilur could have been granted bail and the legal proceeding against him could still continue. But sadly, there are those apologists of oppression and persecution who are justifying this. The government has already taken measures to make the law even more repressive. The cabinet of ministers has approved an amendment to the law that will make the highest sentence longer. A few offenses against this Act have been made non-bailable. The amended law set out a minimum punishment of 7 years in prison and the maximum punishment is 14 years.

 

 

Previously the maximum punishment was 10 years. The amendments allow the police to make arrest without warrant. Before the amendment the police needed the permission of the Cyber Tribunal Controller to press charges against someone. And police personnel had to be of at least the sub-inspector rank. There are no such requirements in the new amended law. The police can arrest anyone upon a complaint. Of course, there is provision for the police itself to be the complainant. At the time of Adilur Rahman's arrest there was the requirement of prior permission under section 69. But the police had to arrest him under section 54 as they did not acquire prior permission. Now, with the new amendments in effect, the police can make arrest without warrant. Also a suspect under the new law will not get bail.

 

Many people have asked the very reasonable question that why the people who claimed the number of death to be in the thousands were not arrested. Odhikar has stated that they are carrying out further investigation and the number of death may be higher. The government should have assisted Odhikar and put an end to the 'genocide' debate. The government should have felt relieved that Odhikar came up with a specific figure. The real reason behind the assault on Odhikar is not to uphold the Information Act but to stop its investigation. The government knows that further investigation will reveal more on what really happened on that fateful night and how many actually died.

 

The government might face a complete different disaster still. The Awami League web site has a piece of document titled Reign of Terror 2001 – 2006. In it there is a claim that 21 thousand Awami League activists and leaders were murdered during the term of the BNP government. So, what is the basis of this figure? If the government wants a list of the names will Awami League be able to provide it? If it fails then wouldn't charges be pressed and arrests made? Needless to say that Odhikar's report was not baseless claims. Numbers can generate a lot of debates but the real issue here is that the government is terrified to reveal how many people died at the Shapla roundabout. There is absolutely no justification for not investigating the event by an independent commission. But the government would rather arrest a human rights activist. The excuse made by the foreign minister for Adilur's arrest was not accepted by the diplomatic community.

 

We must understand that the real debate is not about the number. The action of the government is purely political and the purpose is to punish and terrorize human rights activists. The real question is that can we agree to allow the police to arrest citizens without any charge against them? There is public opinion against torture in the police remand but we have failed to make that a political issue. if we cannot transcend our differences and cannot raise our voice together against repressive laws then it would quickly become impossible to express any dissenting views. The government is trying to control the population by trying to control the cyber world.

 

It would be foolish to think that this can change overnight. Many more people will have to suffer state terrorism. And it will not be limited to a particular faction of the society. Like Mahmudur Rahman and Adilur Rahman Khan, bloggers Asif Mahiuddin, Mashiur Rahman, Biplob Adhikari Shubhro, and Russell Pervez were also arrested under the Information & Communication Technology Act, 2006. There should be a united opposition to this law. But sadly, everyone is willing to save their own people from this law and happily celebrate their opponents suffering by this law. Liberty for me and repression for my opponent – that's the mentality of these people. We indeed are living in a sick society.

 

 

The discussions and debates about freethinking and freedom of expression are endless. These are understood differently in different places. This is very natural. There is no need for contrived uniformity. We should try to create a consensus based on our own culture and preferences. I personally believe in the fullest extent of freedom of expression. Whether it is in books or in the cyber space, a person should be free to express his opinion as long as it does not slander another citizen. And the government must not interfere with this right.

 

Those who think that Odhikar's report is false what is preventing them from supporting an independent investigation? Is it because that will make Sheikh Hasina's claim false? It is because the lies in the ministers' statements will be exposed, isn't it? What else it could be? The pertinent issue here is the freedom of expression. So, instead of arguing over people we should have discussions on implementing these basic rights. If we are willing to go down that road we might then discover what different people are thinking. We might even discover how far down we are in the hole. We will eventually have to get out of it, will we not?

[PROGRAM] Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim Di Pahang

Posted: 30 Aug 2013 04:54 AM PDT

JADUAL PROGRAM DATO’ SERI ANWAR IBRAHIM DI PAHANG – 31 OGOS 2013 [SABTU]

4:00 PM – Majlis Hari Raya Parlimen Indera Mahkota dan Sambutan Merdeka

Lokasi: Bandar Indera Mahkota 5

Pertanyaan: Sdr Suhaimi 0135809544 / Sdr Kamarulzaman 0139929494

5:30 PM – Hi-Tea Anak Muda & Profesional Pahang Anjuran Anwar Ibrahim Club (AIC) & Ikatan Suara Muda Kuantan

Lokasi: Seri Manja Hotel, J alan IM 7/1, Bandar Indera Mahkota, 25200 Kuantan, Pahang.

Pertanyaan: Sdr Shah 0169618237 / Sdr Wong 0109020925

8:30 PM – Majlis Hari Raya PKR Temerloh & Sambutan Merdeka

Lokasi: Pejabat PKR Temerloh, Simpang Taman Saga, Temerloh, Pahang.

Pertanyaan: Sdr Nizam 0199554246

PEJABAT DATO’ SERI ANWAR IBRAHIM

Perutusan oleh Anwar Ibrahim sempena sambutan ulangtahun Kemerdekaan ke-56 pada 31 Ogos 2013

Posted: 29 Aug 2013 09:03 PM PDT

Sekali lagi menjelang 31 Ogos, kita akan meraikan Hari Merdeka, hari yang cukup gemilang dan bermakna untuk seluruh rakyat Malaysia. Kini adalah masanya untuk kita menghimbau kembali pencapaian dan kegagalan kita dan memandang ke depan untuk hari-hari dan bulan-bulan yang mendatang. Kini adalah masanya untuk bermuhasabah dan bertanya apakah sebenarnya erti Merdeka dan apa yang boleh kita pelajari dari masa silam dan harapan di masa depan.

'Merdeka' memiliki makna yang lebih dalam berbanding perkataan 'Kebebasan'. Ia bukan sekadar persoalan dibebaskan dari cengkaman penjajahan atau penindasan asing jika ianya kemudian digantikan dengan penindas di tanah air sendiri yang barangkali lebih rakus dan tamak. Merdeka bermaksud bebas dari sebarang bentuk kezaliman dan penindasan dalam apa jua bentuk dan negara dipacu ke arah baru menuju keadilan, kebebasan, demokrasi dan kemuliaan insan.

Di atas cabaran ini, ramai yang bersetuju bahawa kita masih jauh untuk mencapainya. Setelah lebih dari setengah abad, kita masih lagi bertanya samada prinsip-prinsip asas di dalam Perlembagaan Persekutuan masih dijunjung dan samada kebebasan dan hak-hak yang termaktub di dalamnya masih utuh dan dihormati. Justeru, apa kebaikan Merdeka seandainya asas perlembagaan dicabuli dengan sewenang-wenangnya?

Tatkala kita seharusnya meraikan perpaduan sebagai sebuah negara pelbagai kaum dan pelbagai agama yang telah menjangkau 56 tahun usia kemerdekaan, kita sebaliknya kini melihat polarisasi masyarakat yang dahsyat dan perpecahan dalam hal-hal berkaitan agama. Tanggungjawab dan peranan pemimpin politik sewajarnya menjernihkan keadaan ini namun apa yang berlaku adalah sebaliknya. Terdapat segelintir daripada mereka yang mengeruhkan lagi keadaan dengan mengeksploitasi hal-hal agama dan isu-isu sensitif untuk kepentingan mereka sendiri. Kini wujud perkembangan yang membimbangkan bila mana terdapat parti-parti politik yang mengupah kumpulan-kumpulan 'hak istimewa' dan media untuk meneruskan agenda mereka memecahbelah dan menyemai perbezaan di kalangan rakyat.

Kesannya, setelah 56 tahun mencapai Merdeka, berlaku lebih banyak provokasi perkauman, hasutan yang menjurus kepada kebencian terhadap agama dan secara umumnya semakin banyak ucapan dan penulisan berbaur hasutan yang disiarkan oleh media cetak. Apa yang malang adalah ia bukan sekadar kelemahan kepimpinan dalam menjernihkan keadaan, tetapi tampak seolah-olah kerajaan sedang menggalakkan fenomena ini supaya menjadi lebih parah.

Sebagai contoh, ketika pelbagai tuntutan dan bantahan dinyatakan dari kalangan rakyat prihatin dan pertubuhan-pertubuhan bukan kerajaan, kerajaan sebaliknya membenarkan juga penayangan di seluruh negara sebuah filem yang hanya akan menyajikan mesej berbaur perkauman walaupun nilai keseniannya masih boleh dipersoalkan. Di sebalik kebanggaan tentang negara, terdapat sensitiviti yang lebih besar yakni perkauman dan perasaan khalayak. Suara-suara melampau berbaur kebencian dan yang bersifat tidak toleran sedang menenggelamkan suara-suara kesederhanaan dan keterbukaan.

Peningkatan mendadak kes tembakan dan jenayah berat, rompakan dan jenayah ragut adalah hal yang membimbangkan. Manakala kita mendukung usaha pihak polis dalam memerangi dan mencegah jenayah, adalah penting juga untuk mereka melakukannya dengan menuruti proses yang sewajarnya. Semua pihak perlu bekerjasama mencari jalan penyelesaian namun demikian penggunaan undang-undang yang lebih berat bukanlah jawapannya. Perkara tersebut perlu diteliti dengan lebih menyeluruh.

Menyentuh isu tatakelola, ketelusan dan kebertanggungjawaban, rasuah kekal menjadi barah yang merisaukan kita. Merujuk kepada perkara ini, Suruhanjaya Pencegahan Rasuah Malaysia (SPRM) mesti melaksanakan tugas mereka tanpa rasa takut dan memihak namun kita mendesak Peguam Negara supaya tidak menghalang pendakwaan yang melibatkan amalan rasuah di kalangan pimpinan atasan.

Negara kita tidak kebal daripada ribut ekononi yang melanda di sekeliling kita. Kita lebih perlu berhati-hati daripada berada di dalam keadaan tidak bersiap sedia. Kita boleh menerapkan tata kelola, hemah dan kebertanggungjawaban dalam pengurusan kewangan awam dan ekonomi kita. Kerajaan bersalah terhadap kecurangan ekonomi – menyatakan fakta yang separa benar dan memberikan statistik tidak sempurna untuk mengaburi perbelanjaan melampau yang tidak mampu lagi ditanggung oleh negara.

Penilaian Agensi Penarafan Kewangan Antarabangsa (FITCH) yang mendedahkan kemerosotan prospek ekonomi negara sewajarnya mempercepatkan kerajaan untuk bertindak lebih terbuka dalam mendepani cabaran sebenar ekonomi. Sebaliknya, kerajaan memperlekeh penilaian tersebut dan menyifatkannya sebagai kerja "penganalisa muda yang tidak mendengar pandangan kerajaan". FITCH bukanlah satu-satunya firma penganalisa yang menyatakan kebimbangan terhadap prospek pertumbuhan ekonomi dan kesannya kepada kejutan luaran.

Terdahulu, Institut Penyelidikan Ekonomi Malaysia (MIER) telah menolak unjuran pertumbuhan 2013 daripada 5.6% sebelumnya kepada 4.8%. Bank Negara pula baru-baru ini telah mengurangkan ramalan pertumbuhan 2013 daripada 5-6% sebelumnya kepada 4.5-5%. Ini selari dengan ramalan terkini Bank Dunia untuk tahun 2013 iaitu daripada 5.6% sebelumnya kepada 5.1%. Selain daripada ancaman berganda defisit fiskal yang tinggi secara berterusan dan peningkatan hutang kerajaan secara langsung dan tidak langsung, lebihan akaun semasa kita berada pada tahap paling rendah sejak 1997. Oleh kerana kita terlalu bergantung pada nilai dan komoditi eksport yang rendah di pasaran global, kejatuhan berterusan dalam ekonomi global mewujudkan ketidaktentuan terhadap pertumbuhan kita.

Pengurangan defisit fiskal memerlukan komitmen sepenuhnya dalam membasmi rasuah daripada perolehan dan projek-projek kerajaan. Penjimatan 10% dalam perolehan dan projek-projek dengan mudah dapat diterjemahkan kepada perolehan RM20 bilion setahun (berdasarkan perolehan dan perbelanjaan tahunan projek RM200 bilion di bawah kawalan kerajaan Persekutuan).

Pengurangan hutang kerajaan dan pemotongan defisit fiskal hanya boleh dimulakan menerusi perolehan hasil kerajaan yang lebih tinggi yang diraih melalui pertumbuhan yang lebih tinggi. Malangnya pertumbuhan Malaysia akan terencat di skala 4-5% untuk seketika melainkan reformasi struktur secara menyeluruh terhadap ekonomi dilaksanakan sebaiknya dengan segera.

Di ambang ulangtahun kemerdekaan yang ke-56 ini, reformasi ekonomi bukan lagi berkisar kepada pertandingan dasar dan retorik politik. Ianya berkait dengan kepentingan negara yang seharusnya menembusi politik kepartian dan ideologi kerana kita tidak mampu untuk mundur ke belakang sedangkan negara-negara jiran kita maju ke depan.

Persoalan kepimpinan adalah amat penting dalam memacu negara ke hadapan dengan memperkukuhkan asas ekonomi dan menjadikan kita lebih berdaya saing. Malah lebih penting lagi, pemimpin-pemimpin kita mesti dilihat serius menjaga kesejahteraan negara dan memacu hala tuju yang betul. Untuk memastikan perkembangan tidak sihat tidak berlaku di bawah kepimpinannya, seseorang pemimpin itu mesti menunjukkan ketegasan dan iltizam moral yang tinggi.

Meski pun kami membantah sekeras-kerasnya tentang kesahihan keputusan pilihanraya yang lepas, kami bersedia untuk mengetepikan perbezaan kami demi negara kesejahteraan dan masa depan. Dalam hal ini, kami percaya bahawa adalah penting bagi Perdana Menteri untuk segera mengadakan rundingan meja bulat antara kerajaan BN dan Pakatan Rakyat bagi membincangkan isu-isu yang dibangkitkan dan merumuskan satu penyelesaian yang menyeluruh.

Meraikan Merdeka semestinya dengan mengiktiraf kebaikan yang telah dilakukan dan tidak mengulangi kesilapan masa lalu. Iltizam untuk melakukan apa yang baik untuk negara perlu menjadi agenda utama kita semua.

Semangat Merdeka bukan sahaja toleransi atau kompromi. Ianya adalah mengenai pemahaman yang lebih besar, menerima perbezaan kita dan meningkatkan persamaan kita serta menggerakkan negara ke hadapan untuk menghadapi cabaran yang mendatang.

ANWAR IBRAHIM

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