Kuala Lumpur, 16 August 2019 – The Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) expresses concern over the current developments in Malaysia, where the promise of New Malaysia has been distracted by divisive rhetoric that threatens to undermine democracy.
“Recent developments have raised the concerns of many Malaysians, who on the 9th of May last year, voted in a new government with hopes for a more inclusive, united Malaysia. No Malaysian should be made to feel like they do not belong in this country. Divisive and damaging racial narratives must be strongly condemned by all Malaysians. As we look forward to celebrating 62 years of Independence, let us not forget that Malaysia was formed with the promise of peaceful coexistence between the many racial and religious groups that call this country home,” commented Aira Azhari, Senior Executive in Democracy and Governance at IDEAS.
Another prevailing concern is the lack of stakeholder and public consultation in making important decisions that affect the lives of Malaysians and that might potentially stoke racial and religious tension. “Too many times already, the government has rushed into policy decisions without broad stakeholder and public consultation, which then invites backlash from certain quarters. Couple this with a narrative driven by sentiment rather than knowledge and analysis, the atmosphere is then ripe for extremist viewpoints to dominate. Stakeholder and public consultation for major decisions is not only good democratic practice, it also prevents misconceptions amongst the public,’” adds Aira.
“The government must shift its focus to institutional and economic reforms, and most importantly, on fulfilling promises in the Buku Harapan. The manifesto is the Pakatan Harapan government’s contract with the Malaysian people upon winning the elections, and they are duty bound to ensure its proper implementation. This cannot happen when the leadership is fixated on personal and partisan interests. The future of Malaysia and the wellbeing of the Malaysian people must, first and foremost, be the utmost priority,” concludes Aira.