Prominent Indonesian English daily Jakarta Post has likened last weekend’s Bersih 4 rally in Kuala Lumpur against Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak to the uprising against former Indonesian president Soeharto.
"For many Indonesians, the massive ‘Bersih’ street rallies in Kuala Lumpur against Najib are reminiscent of the nationwide protests to demand then president Soeharto’s resignation in 1998.
"And it is not impossible that Najib, like Soeharto, will have to bow to the will of 'People Power' given the magnitude of allegations and opposition from his own allies that he is now facing," it said an opinion piece yesterday.
It noted that corruption and abuse of power allegations against Najib are mounting, adding, "and he has apparently failed to convince the people of his innocence".
Furthermore, the newspaper said, like Soeharto ( photo ), Najib is also trying to play down the impact of public protests against him.
"There is actually no intention to compare Najib with Soeharto.
"But it is hard to deny some similarities between Malaysia today and what Indonesia experienced in 1998," it said.
The newspaper said while past Malaysian prime ministers had used the political machinery to silence the opposition, it was different this time.
It said on top of a stronger opposition, there is also revolt from within the ranks of Najib’s political allies. including his former mentor Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
"The departure of Najib appears simply to be a matter of time and a matter of how to find a “face-saving” formula.
"This is the perfect time for Malaysians to prepare a new direction for their nation. Like it or not, they have to embrace fully-fledged democracy.
However, it said Najib's departure, if it happens, will only be the first step for Malaysia to become a "true democracy".
"Malaysia can only adopt a true democracy if its constitution guarantees equal rights and responsibilities for all citizens, regardless of their ethnicity or religion.
"As long as the nation resists this revolutionary mindset, it will remain a segregated nation," Jakarta Post said.