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Waytha: M’sia needs ‘genuine’ Citizens’ Declaration

Waytha: M’sia needs ‘genuine’ Citizens’ Declaration
 | May 21, 2016

KUALA LUMPUR: A prominent human rights advocate finally broke his silence on the Citizens’ Declaration, promoted by former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, and dismissed it as not a “genuine” document for badly-needed reforms.

“The contents of the Citizens’ Declaration as outlined by Mahathir should be left to the authorities concerned,” said P. Waythamoorthy in a telephone interview. “These are rule of law matters.”

“Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak cannot be the ‘be all and end all’ of a genuine Citizens’ Declaration.”

Waytha, who heads Hindraf Makkal Sakthi, held that the Citizens’ Declaration as it stood was Mahathir’s way of persuading the people in general, and the Conference of Rulers in particular, that the law enforcement authorities in the country had failed to address serious wrongdoing in government.

“It’s clear from Mahathir’s Citizens’ Declaration that he wants to push the idea that alleged wrongdoing has been covered up and swept under the carpet.”

It’s equally clear from the Citizens’ Declaration, continued Waytha, that the powers that be have purportedly gone after the authorities concerned who came too close to them in investigations into wrongdoing in government.

“Mahathir didn’t come up with a genuine Citizens’ Declaration because he knows that he was instrumental in creating the conditions that have led to the need for such a document.”

“The former Prime Minister, having being part of the problem, cannot be part of the solution.”

A genuine Citizens’ Declaration, argued Waytha, should be about the rule of law, upholding and respecting the Federal Constitution after removing errant provisions, restoring the Doctrine of Separation of Powers, and bringing the country back as a genuine Federation.

“We are talking about the two-tier Federation i.e. the Federation of the States of Malaya and the Federation of Sabah, Sarawak and Malaya.”

“The Federal Constitution should be read together with the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (1963), the basis for Malaysia, and other constitutional documents on the 1963 Arrangement.”

The states, stressed Waytha who is a British-trained lawyer, would want to have their powers restored while Sabah and Sarawak see themselves as nations of equal status with Malaya as per MA63. “Power in a Federation has to be shared at the Federal, State and local levels.”

At present, he stressed, the Prime Minister’s Department is a hyperministry in what is virtually a unitary state. “Sabah and Sarawak want their autonomy back as well under MA63, and its Annexures, with the Federal Government confined in Borneo to defence, internal security and foreign affairs.”

He charged that the political systems in Sabah and Sarawak were virtually based on rule by proxies of Putrajaya in a variation of neo-colonialist “divide-and-rule” policies. “There should be genuine democracy, one not tainted by rampant issuance of MyKads and suspect electoral rolls.”

The Hindraf Chief, who was briefly in the Federal Cabinet and Senate after the last General Election in 2013, believes that any new government emerging in Putrajaya would also have to deal with various human rights violations in the country. “We can’t have stateless street kids running around in Sabah and refugees languishing in centres in the peninsula for years.”

Other human rights problems include, he said, the denial of an identity to some 350,000 stateless people in the peninsula alone, and the plight of 800,000 people displaced from estates which were fragmented. “By definition under international law, these 800,000 people in the peninsula are internally displaced persons (IDP).”

“As IDPs, they need the protection of the Malaysian Government, the UN and international bodies.”