Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi marked his third year in office yesterday. In 2003, he ushered in reforms on the basis of greater public space for intellectual discourse, greater transparency, public accountability and good governance. People all around had tremendous admiration for his policies and gave the Barisan Nasional (BN) a resounding victory in the 2004 general election.

On a personal note, Oct 31 is a very significant day for my family and me, as it is the birthday of my mother, Flora Jayaratnam, and my daughter, Jochebed. It also has tremendous religious and historical significance for protestant Christians as it is the day when Martin Luther, the German theologian, posted his demands for spiritual reform, which is ever since remembered as Reformation Day in Christendom.

My political awakening was kindled in the 1980s when there were tremendous restrictions placed on fundamental liberties. Most of us in civil society grew out of Operation Lalang and the repressive use of legislation by the state on free expression of public opinion. Most Malaysians were then under the climate of fear.

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