January 1, 2014
Here We Are in 2014: Time for an Open and Accountable Government
We are in 2014. Dr Kamsiah and I were at The Royal Selangor Golf Club with dear friends last night to usher in the New Year. It was a nice gathering of club members who sat together to chat about the good old times and discuss what 2014 is likely to be, given the state of our divisive politics. My friends and I at our table agreed that politicians on both sides should not play with the fire of racial discord and religious exclusivism. Instead we should be celebrating our diversity.
While we were partying, our fellow Malaysians at Dataran Merdeka were protesting the price hikes (toll and assessment rates, electricity charges and related matters) at Dataran Merdeka (Merdeka Square). It was a peaceful affair; and that was not unexpected. We Malaysians have shown time and again that we are a peaceful and responsible people. Due credit must go to Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar, and his men and women of the Royal Malaysian Police for a good job of managing the traffic and facilitating this democracy in action. It was only the Government which, as usual, had tried to stop this price hike protest.
My message to the Najib administration for 2014 is that it should learn to communicate. Don’t assume that we Malaysians are stupid and can be easily be misled. There is, therefore, a need for the Government to explain its policies more effectively. Communicating is not spinning. On the other hand, it is about putting your points of view clearly so that the public can understand what their government wants to do, and why. Feedback from the Malaysian public will ensure that protests are unnecessary when the government listens to people before it formulates policies.
With this in mind, I am prepared to post press releases from government ministries and departments. Their Press officers should feel to contact me if they wish to have their releases read by and commented upon by readers on this blog, at home and abroad. The social media has become popular to reach out to the public, since the mainstream media is deemed to be an instrument of government. Let us begin 2014 with an open and accountable government.–Din Merican