We need to create a democracy that allows dissent

Zan Azlee

Modified 16 Mar 2018, 5:09 am

COMMENT | Malaysia has never seen any other government than a BN government since independence in 1957. Not many democratic countries in the world have ever been in a situation like this, aside from maybe Singapore.

We can’t really count countries that are ruled by monarchs such as the Gulf nations (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, et cetera) and Brunei. I wouldn’t really consider these countries as practicing democracies since they don’t have elections.

Having the same incumbent government for more than half a century is not a good thing. It builds a superiority complex for the political party that governs, and it also helps to create an environment that allows them to manifest their power and authority.

What does this mean for Malaysia, and how does it define Malaysians?

Many would say that we are so set in our ways that we refuse to leave our comfort zone. Others would say that we don’t know any better, and that we would rather choose the devil we know than the one we don’t.

A desire for change

But the fact of the matter is that Malaysians do not want an incumbent government to be in power for so long. There have been at least two general elections in the past ten years in which Malaysians have expressed this desire.

The first was in 2008. Many would have considered this a major time in history when Malaysians were at the height of their political awareness. People were realising that there were other better options than BN and this was proven in the spirit, and also in the vote.

It was the first time when four normally BN states fell to Pakatan Rakyat - Penang, Selangor, Kedah and Perak. Kelantan doesn’t count because at that time, the opposition had already held the state for some time and they continued to so after the 2008 general election.

As for the federal government, although BN still didn’t lose their two-thirds majority in Parliament, it was significantly reduced. The results of the general election that year definitely showed that the people wanted a change of government.

BN saw this as a threat, and after five years, the next general election surfaced in 2013. Malaysians saw this as a natural progression, and picked up from where they left off in 2008 as far as their support was concerned...

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