The former information minister ridicules Najib’s “transformation” rhetoric.
SHAH ALAM: Indelible ink, an extended campaigning period, an immaculate voters’ list—all of these and other measures to ensure clean elections are meaningless if media coverage is not fair to all contesting parties.
This is a view that all believers in democracy would agree with, and it was articulated on the weekend by former information minister Kadir Sheikh Fadzir, who left Umno last month.
Speaking before a large crowd of Felda settlers at a convention in Shah Alam on Sunday, Kadir ridiculed Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s rhetoric about “transformation”, especially his recent claim that his administration had turned Malaysia into the world’s best democracy.
“You talk about political transformation, economic transformation, democratic transformation and you tell the world you are the best in democracy. What democracy are you talking about when there is no press freedom at all?” he said.
“You can have the indelible ink, the 21-day campaign period, clean up the voters’ list and other measures to make sure the conduct of election is clean.
“But all that won’t have any meaning if the parties contesting are not given fair media coverage.
“Yes, there are other governments controlling the media in their respective countries. But there is at least 20% of coverage allocated to opposition parties and leaders. Here in Malaysia the government controls the media 100%. It’s 100 percent.”
Kadir said he would take part in the Bersih rally this Saturday as his contribution to the “fight for fair and transparent elections”.
He claimed that when he was information minister, other Umno leaders often tried to thwart his attempts at giving some respect to democratic principles in his work.
“I introduced the debate programme in RTM, but they got angry with me.
“And when I was the national chairman of the Merdeka celebrations, I sent the Jalur Gemilang to all state governments, including Kelantan and Terengganu, for them to display everywhere in those states.
“That one also Umno made an issue. They are not happy that I sent the Malaysian flag to the PAS states. Terengganu was under PAS at the time.”
Sins of the leaders
Kadir said it would be unfair to blame ordinary Umno members for the cheating allegedly carried out in the election process and all the other “sins” of the leaders, “such as the nightly creation of slander” on TV against opposition leaders.
He called on Umno leaders, including Najib and his deputy Muhyiddin Yassin, to change themselves before asking party members to change.
“Najib and Muhyiddin keep telling Umno members ‘to change or we will be changed’ . What is the point of you telling all the three million Umno members to change? How have they sinned? The slander, the cheating—it’s not their fault.
“The leaders must change. If they don’t change, then we change them.”
That last remark was greeted with a roar of applause from the Felda settlers.
The convention was held to discuss the fate of the settlers after Felda Global Ventures Holdings is listed on the stock exchange this June. It was organised by the National Felda Settlers’ Children Association (Anak). Speeches were also delivered by Anak president Mazlan Aliman, PKR strategic director Rafizi Ramli, PAS vice president Husam Musa, former Bank Negara deputy governer Rosli Yaakop and Bersih leader A Samad Said.