Tuesday 12 July 2011

KL better off without ‘padded rolls, vote buying’, says Singapore Strait Times

The Bersih rally was about electoral reform. — File pic

Jul 12, 2011 
KUALA LUMPUR, July 12 — Malaysia’s top leadership would be better off working to deliver its promised reforms and give substance to the 1 Malaysia vision than stoop to a partisan approach in dealing with dissent, the Singapore Straits Times said today.

The influential daily also remarked in its editorial today that last Saturday’s Bersih 2.0 rally here has thrown the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition on the backfoot even though it managed to deliver a counter-punch to the civil society movement.

 The Singapore paper is privately-owned but is often seen to reflect the republic’s establishment voice, which appears keen to keep its current good ties with Putrajaya while protecting the republic’s interest.

In the piece titled “A very Malaysian impediment”, the paper remarked that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has gained widespread support as a “moderate leader” through his liberalisation of some race-based practices to a certain extent while being mindful of keeping its majority Malay sensibilities.

“But it would be better for the country if it could move more rapidly to give substance to Mr Najib’s vision of ‘1 Malaysia’ — an inclusive political culture in which all races can be comfortable with one another,” it said.
The paper further remarked that Malaysian debate is now framed in an even more polarised racial context of “us-against-them contest” — where the Malays fear an erosion of their privileges and political primacy while the non-Malays demand fairness.

“It should be acknowledged for what it was: a cry for equity and a demand that the nation’s resources and talent be not sacrificed on irresolute policies,” it said.

“One consequence of this was Barisan Nasional being forced on the backfoot, even though Umno Youth delivered a counter-punch,” it added, noting that Bersih activists were likely to face charges in court over the affair.

The paper advised the Najib administration not to stop at invoking the law over the rally, which it described as a “common disturbance” but to look beyond the incident and move to resolve the issues raised by the civil society movement it noted was key for national unity.

“Bersih’s agenda was electoral reform,” ST said.

“If padded rolls, vote buying and multiple voting are true as alleged, Malaysia would surely be better off without these impediments,” it said, noting that the rally was duplicated in many other cities around the world by Malaysians

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