Commentary Politics

Exact support for declaration depends on who’s talking

Mahathir reading out a list of issues he has with the present administration that were in fact also major issues protested by the people when he was prime minister.

Written by Aziz Hassan

“Mid-week notes”A weekly column beginning today

KUALA LUMPUR — May 11, 2016: IT started with quite a bang, with good space given by the media not usually known to be excited about the establishment but since then the true extent of the people’s support for the Citizens’ Declaration launched on March 4 depends on who you listen to.

A mere two days after it was read out by former prime minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, the CD that opposition politician Lim Kit Siang said was formulated by “Mahathir and his comrades” an activist involved in crafting its contents claimed that it had already received the support of over 32,000 people.

A pro-opposition online portal organised a poll five days later participated by 5,852 and announced that it had support totalling 76 per cent.

There is also a Facebook page that links to an online petition, a place where you are required to fill in the usual personal particulars including an email address.

Now this one had about 30,000 supporters towards the end of March, about three weeks after the CD was publicised.

In between we read statements from former federal ministers explaining to the public why they agreed to work hand-in-hand with opposition leaders. Tan Sri Sanusi Junid was the first to say that they did all that out of their love for Umno and also to save the party. This statement was echoed by former deputy prime minister and ex-Umno number two Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

Kit Siang, PKR’s Datuk Seri Azmin Ali, lawyer Datuk S. Ambiga and street activist Hishamuddin Rais must have rolled and rolled on the floor laughing their heads off in reaction, for one is sure it was never their intention to help save Umno. Whatever for?

Then by April 18 it was claimed that 300,000 Malaysians had pledged their support for the CD, support which Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir says has now reached a million. It is believed that this petition will be handed over to the king.

The strange thing is on one hand the main cast at the CD’s launch agree that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak can only be removed via a vote of no-confidence in Parliament or an ouster first as Umno president and yet is attempting to do it via an unconstitutional approach. They appear to also acknowledge that stone-throwing in the streets is also not the way, although there is at least one known stone-thrower in the group of signatories at the launch.

Other points in the CD touch on freedom of speech and the press, separation of powers affecting various critical national institutions, rising costs of living that include an increase in highway toll rates, security laws and detention without trial.

How long ago was it when most of the country was loudly protesting on the same issues against a Mahathir-led government?

And how many years ago was it when Malays in this country were reminded of the “Melayu mudah lupa” (Malays quick to forget) syndrome by none other than Mahathir himself?

But back to the exercise to collect signatures to support the petition/CD.

Our reporter Zaidi Azmi decided to put the system to a test, to satisfy his curiosity about the credibility of the entire effort.

He went to the link provided via the Facebook page, not once, not twice but three times, each time providing different personal particulars. The result? His petition was accepted and confirmed without hesitation. No gatekeeper to authenticate his support or personal particulars.

God knows how many times each of those involved in the CD and the petition could have visited the link to pledge their support.

Need we say more?




About the author


Aziz Hassan

A journalist since July 1976 with both the English and Malaya press and was with two newspaper groups before The Mole. Does corporate report-writing and translation in his free time. Currently also a contributing weekly rugby columnist for the New Straits Times.