I wish to refer to Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's comments during a recent interview with the Australian Broadcasting Commission where he said democracy was working well in Malaysia.
Abdullah's comments bear no credibility or weight. To date, Malaysia has never had another political coalition in government apart from the Barisan Nasional. This is not because the opposition is weak but because information is controlled through a muzzled press and media.
The heavy machinery used by the government to stifle the opposition is not unknown. The various law enforcement agencies, the election commission itself and the media are there to ensure the eternal position of the BN in the corridors of power.
We have seen the full force of the government machinery used upon one man who was defamed, maligned and thrown into prison to rot for many years.
I will agree with Abdullah that democracy is alive and kicking in Malaysia, if and when there is press freedom - when the politicians or their proxies take their soiled hands off media companies and the people are allowed to read the news they want to read.
When the Royal Malaysian Police would act independently on any report irrespective of whether it was lodged by the ruling party or the opposition. When another party is swept into power and there is a smooth transition of power. Perhaps then we can be a beacon of light and a shining example of democracy to all our neighbours.
Can we even dream of this? If the people truly decide to vote in an opposition party could there be a smooth transition of power within the framework of the constitution? Can we, as Malaysians, even begin to think of a government not of the Barisan Nasional?
In England, the opposition too is considered part of the government as they are known in their Parliament as 'Her Majesty's Opposition Party'. The people are free to vote Labour, Conservatives or Liberal Democrat and any party can form the ruling government.
There is a smooth transition of power and there is the respect for their constitution and the laws which keep peace in the country.
We should all begin to discuss this and the various branches of government and NGOs should hold dialogues on this issue.