Malaysia: Becoming a Police State

August 9, 2015

Malaysia: Becoming a Police State

COMMENT by John R. Malott:  How ironic it is that many ambassador-john-malottMalaysians are now being threatened for taking actions that are “detrimental to parliamentary democracy.” Actually, they are the very people who are struggling for democracy and political freedom.

As someone who follows developments in Malaysia closely, I believe that the greatest threat to parliamentary democracy in Malaysia today is Prime Minister Najib Razak, and the head of the national police force that he controls, Khalid Abu Bakar. It is Najib and Khalid who actually should be investigated for violating Section 124B of the Penal Code.

Najib wants to stay in power, no matter what. For any politician, that is understandable. For whatever reason, Khalid has chosen to be Najib’s lackey. He is ready to do Najib’s bidding and deploy his police force in wilful violation of the law and the fundamental guarantees of Malaysia’s constitution.

Najib as Macbeth

A good friend who also follows developments in Malaysia closely recently compared the situation in Malaysia to Shakespeare’s famous tragedy, “Macbeth.”

Macbeth, pushed by his evil wife’s ambition, would stop at nothing – even murder – to gain power. And to accomplish his ends, Macbeth would depict evil as good, and good as evil. So it is in Malaysia today. Those who seek democracy are called the enemies of democracy.

Rosmah2Malaysia’s Lady Macbeth-Grace Mugabe

Meanwhile, those who really are the enemies of democracy – the people who close newspapers, charge opposition politicians with sedition, round-up the leaders of peaceful protests, and arrest government officials who are investigating corruption at the highest levels – call themselves the “patriots” of the nation and the defenders of parliamentary democracy.

How perverse it all has become under Najib. Reluctantly, I have come to the conclusion that Malaysia has now become a police state. One should not use words like “police state” carelessly. So I consulted the definitions that political scientists and academics use.
A police state is when police power is used to suppress any action that opposes the government, and to suppress any person who dares to criticise the government.
That sounds like Malaysia today. Najib is turning Malaysia into an authoritarian government and a police state. And Khalid is his willing accomplice, a law unto himself, a man who renders justice through Twitter.
Who will save Malaysia? Because of Najib’s actions, Malaysia can no longer claim to be a democracy. Democracy means freedom of speech, freedom of press, and freedom of assembly. It means that there are checks and balances – that the judiciary, the press, the parliament, and so on, can comment and criticise what the government is doing.

But today in Malaysia, none of that exists. There is no check on Najib’s power. There is no institution that can balance his power, especially when the police are so ready to arrest anyone who dares to criticise Najib, including government officials who are investigating the many allegations of corruption against him and his wife.

Dr Mahathir Mohamad already destroyed most of Malaysia’s checks and balances against the abuse of power, and Najib has now finished it off for good. Will Najib get away with this? It seems that no one stands in Najib’s way. Malaysia’s elder statesmen – Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, Musa Hitam, and so on are curiously silent. They claim that they care about Malaysia and its people, yet they do nothing about Najib’s abuses.
Only Mahathir has spoken out. But Mahathir is the man who corrupted the entire system that Najib has used to his advantage. And now even Mahathir has become silent.
Where are the sultans? They also are supposed to be the defenders of the nation. Yet we only know, indirectly, the views of the Sultan of Johor and his son. The others are silent as Najib destroys Malaysia’s future, the great country that the Sultans have pledged to defend.
We know what Najib wants
Najib has decided that his personal survival is more important than the fate of his country. He and his wife care only about themselves, not Malaysia.
So the stock market tumbles, and the ringgit falls to its lowest point in almost 20 years. Malaysia’s bank reserves have dropped by over US$40 billion in just one year. Foreign investors are shunning Malaysia, and Malaysians themselves are sending their money overseas. It is the worst situation for Malaysia’s economy in 20 years.
But Najib doesn’t care. His personal survival is more important than his country’s economic fate. He is now a desperate man. He will continue his relentless quest to stay in power, utilising every means possible, both within and outside his party.
The leaders of Bersih 4.0 and others who think that street demonstrations will force him to resign are naVve. He already has shown that he has no hesitation to turn tear gas and billy clubs on his own people. That is what they will face on August 29.
As things now stand, I cannot think of a good outcome. It is only going to get worse. Cry, the beloved country. I can only lament when I think of Malaysia’s future, when one man is able to subvert the institutions of government and thwart the will of the people. And when the great majority of the Malaysian people, from former leaders to the man in the street, stand by silently, and let him do it.

 JOHN R MALOTT is former United States ambassador to Malaysia.



17 thoughts on “Malaysia: Becoming a Police State

  1. Malaysia has been a Police state since Tun Razak took office after the coup in 1969. I remember that lawyers who were peacefully protesting in the 1980s were arrested and detained. There has never been a separation of powers -in this single party rule since independence.

  2. Thank you, Ambassador Malott.
    You are a true friend of Malaysia.

    Just ignore the usual abuse that will be forthcoming from the
    UMNO Baru-BN types i.e. “foreigners should keep quiet”,
    “white people think they are superior to Asians”, “part of
    an international conspiracy to depose our beloved PM”,
    “the USA is also guilty of this and that” ad nauseum.

  3. Najib is losing his focus by clearing himself free from corruption. IGP postpones the investigations. AG is quiet if he declared Najib a free man. MACC is completely fragmented to a zero. Zeti is in the waiting to be interrogated together with other men from BNM.

    Who is running the country? It looks IGP is in the limelight as to the country’s woes on democracy. Of all the agencies appointed only IGP and his men are surviving together with newly molded AG backed by CJ of MalaysiaTun Ariffin as a “superb Choice”

    All the leaders of yesteryear are completely dumb. Yes, it’s true of what people think of Mahathir for the present situation but at least he made the check earlier for people to realize the corruption of a leader who is so obsessive and adamant to carry on despite all the odds are against him. He is a desperate man now and he can be very damaging to the democracy of this nation if he went to his obsessiveness.

    Like any other peace loving individual, I plead to the right thinking people to come forward to save the nation from the ultras. Many are beginning to speak out and I believe more ex ministers and top civil servants will come forward express their right mindedness to prevent the nation from burning.

    “May good sense prevail!”

  4. What a satire. Comments not intended to disrupt functions of government.

    The story now making its rounds in the web; Many people of all races are going to Thailand for dental treatment. The Thai Dental Association initially thought that it was for reasons of cost. But, apparently, one customer in answer to a question by the doctor said some thing to the effect that in his country he could not open his mouth.

  5. Malott is wrong. Malaysia has not become a police state. It is already a failed state being run by a bunch of criminals. This is not a figure of speech, but a fact if we examined what has happened in the past 2 weeks. Najib has broken many laws by removing people from important office without even following protocols. He has subverted all investigations against him and his cronies for fraud & corruption. He has fabricated claims against Sarawak Report and others. The list goes on … and if one looks at these closely, they are criminal acts by Najib and his accomplices.

  6. I dunno’ . Macbeth is a play that reminds us that the Hero and Villain can be one and the same. Rosmah is no lady Macbeth because she does not work behind the scenes (a FLOM does not do this) , neither whispering nor inspiring, she throws her flomweight around. Mahathir’s wife fits, the Lady Macbeth archetype.

  7. What we are is a MESS.. Najib broke some law – its either election law or CBT or something else. But he broke the law. And he is arguing about principles THAT don’t exist – he took money and spend it for his political party is a NOT wrong is NOT an acceptable governing principle. We ARE ALREADY A MESS..

    Not only the laws don’t mean anything, institutions and even principles of governance means nothing – its whatever the most powerful decide it is..The fact we are not in absolute chaos is because the most powerful don’t want it and would lose greatly if it happens.

    But our laws don’t mean much, our institutions and systems are a joke and even principles of law, governance, etc are whatever the most powerful want it to be.

    This country don’t belong to the mass citizens of this nation, it belongs to the most powerful who decides whatever it is they want it to be..

  8. Conrad re Lady Macbeth you are spot on,and she contributed to the damage and still does so insidiously.

  9. Macbeth…….that’s scottish play. Just watch Rowan Atkinson’s take on this. Watch on the part how Prince of Wales torturing those 2 fellas

    No Mercy so say Najib……..hahahaha

  10. But didn’t most people say, sometime ago, that Najib was WEAK in every way??? Where did he find the STRENGTH to do all these now??? The Malay saying says “air tenang jangan sangka tiada buaya”. I never believe the words of those “most people”.

  11. Salleh Said Keruak the newly appointed COMMUNICATION AND MULTIMEDIA MINISTER . A Sabahan . Very great MInister coming with weird rules at the pandering of the regime.

Leave a Reply to SiangMalam Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.