A wishlist for Najib

By Sunday April 5th, 2009 No Comments

Taking office amidst swirling winds of change, newly installed Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak would have to juggle the competing demands made of him without wasting a moment.

Najib would appear to have his work cut out for him in addressing the urgent challenges of the global economic turmoil on the Malaysian economy, instituting reforms within Umno and the Barisan Nasional, and regaining the confidence of the electorate in the ruling coalition.

Expectations on the nation’s sixth prime minister clearly do not end there.

The Edge Malaysia spoke to civil society to find out their demands of the new administration.

Ivy aimiah, executive director of the Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO)

For a start, look at the Federal Constitution. Article 8(2) recognises equality of women and clearly states that gender cannot be used as a basis of discrimination.

But there are other points in the constitution that contradicts Article 8(2). The amendment to Article 8(2) to include gender was not accompanied by a complete review of provisions under the Federal Constitution, all laws and policies that continue to discriminate against women.

This new prime minister has to ensure all the structures in place works for all women. There are no new issues but to study and look into the various memorandums sent to the prime minister’s office and the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development.

It is also urgent that he does not ignore issues of credibility that surround him in the context of violence against women.

Dr Kua Kia Soong, director of human rights group Suaram

Najib has to first do all former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi promised but never did and to do better, particularly in judicial reform and anti-corruption commissions.

The commissions need to be more in pace with what people want and is seen to being done it the right way. There should also be policies that respect human rights.

Every new prime minister makes some magnanimous gesture and I suggest that he do that, possibly by freeing all ISA detainees. If he cannot repeal all the detention without trial laws then this is the least he can do.

Najib’s One Malaysia concept is just a declaration. It must have policies in place to mean something. There is no reason why economic policies and the New Economic Policy cannot be based on class instead of race.

Ragunath Kesavan, president of Malaysian Bar Council

The first step would be to release all Internal Security Act (ISA) detainees and proceed to abolish all detention without trial laws.

The new administration needs to push for greater judicial reform, including steps to strengthen the management and structure of the judiciary.

We have the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) now and we have to make it more independent and transparent. There should be greater civil society participation and consultation in the JAC.

The position of judges need to be enhanced and judges need to have their salaries revised so that it is compatible with the private sector remunerations. The government should encourage more senior lawyers to take up positions as judicial commissioners.

It is important to have a first-class judiciary to encourage foreign investment. The government should promote Malaysia as a centre for arbitration and mediation for trade and commerce. The greatest strength of Malaysia is in the strength and diversity of its people.

It is also important to open more space for democratic reform. The government must start to trust the people. We are not a nanny state. To have a more vibrant democracy, having a strong opposition is a positive point to show that the country is democratic.

Adrian Lasimbang, Chairman of Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia (JOAS)

There are three main issues we would like the new administration to address. First is the issue of our identity as orang asal of Malaysia, which is a term that would encompass the orang asli from the peninsula and the natives of Sabah and Sarawak.

We want our identity as Malaysians recognised and have our history and language given some attention to in the education system. We do not want to be categorised as “lain-lain” on official forms.

We also want recognition of our rights, especially land rights. Although the federal government has little jurisdiction over land titles, we would like to see them endorse actions like what the Selangor state government has done for the orang asli there by issuing land titles.

Thirdly, we would like to be consulted collectively on all forms of development taking place in our territory. Development is high on Najib’s agenda, but how do we make sure that it fits in to the aspirations of the orang asal? Some village heads and village security and development committees (JKKK) have been too politicised; the people do not accept them as leaders. We would like to reach a consensus before projects are implemented before considering our needs.

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