Malaysiakini NEWS

Strengthening democratic institutions not the threat to democracy

Hazlan Zakaria  |  Published:  |  Modified:

COMMENT There has been a lot of noise of late by those who claim to fear outside intervention in the form of monies given to local organisations via foreign assistance and grants.

They fear such monies given to strengthen democratic institutions - like independent media, civil society organisations and advocacy groups - and to help promote youth empowerment and education, are designed to destroy the Malaysian democratic system.

Much hue and cry they raised, from the shouts of street-based jack-booted touts and louts, to the sneers of ministers in their gilded slippers, gracefully holding Chinese porcelain cups of Earl Grey White, with raised pinky and jackets of smoking red.

Multiple police reports were lodged by some, while others demonstrated at a building housing a media organisation that is a recipient of said funds.

Threats were even made, demanding forced closure, by those who claimed they could level half a building, but would not own up to wanting to destroy one.

Indeed, even authorities are investigating those who receive such grants, for activities they deem detrimental to parliamentary democracy.

The elephant in the room of course, is the RM2.6 billion "donation" that Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak himself admitted to have received in his own private personal accounts.

It is also foreign, also from abroad, and in a magnitude that would dwarf the quantum of all the grant recipients in the entire nation combined.

And get this: it was at one point described as monies given to the PM to help him win in the general election. In other words, a foreign party intervened to engineer a BN win.

It does not matter that it came from an Islamic government; it was money given to an elected official by a foreign power, which wants to influence and dictate the outcome of Malaysian elections.

If this is not foreign intervention, I don't really know what is. And it is a clear and present indication of foreign lobbying and tampering.

On the other hand, strengthening the media, civil society organisations and advocacy groups, can only bolster our democracy, for it reinforces the rakyat's right not only to choose their leader but to be well informed to make the right choices, and voice legitimate democratic dissent.

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