KUALA LUMPUR: Communications and Multimedia Minister Salleh Said Keruak today denied claims that Malaysia’s democracy is dead, saying the government treats the people fairly and does not deny the rights of its citizens.
He said the government had assisted the people through various programmes for the poor and by providing funding for small businesses, 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M) and economic opportunities and jobs.
“In short, the government does whatever it takes to fulfil its obligations to the people.
“This shows that the level of Malaysian democracy is not as bad as some people claim. We still remain a democratic country,” he said in a blog post today.
“For example, the Democracy Index of 2016 shows that from 167 countries, we are ranked 65th (6.54), compared to Thailand (4.92), Cambodia (4.27), Myanmar (4.20), Vietnam (3.38) and Laos (2.37) which was placed under the authoritarian regime category.”
Salleh said the Central American countries which were close to the US were also failed democracies, citing Honduras and Guatemala, which scored 5.92, as examples.
In fact, he said, Bhutan, a country with a high gross national happiness score of 4.93, was also considered a failed democracy while Qatar, which had the highest per capita population in the world, only scored 3.18.
He said the newly released Freedom of the World 2018 report did not categorise Malaysian democracy as dead either, but ranked it with Singapore as “partly free” with a score of 4, compared with Brunei, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar which scored 6.
“’Partly free’ is not a reflection of our dead democracies or the government denying the rights of its citizens, but because of some of the preventive acts we have to maintain to ensure stability and peace in our nation.
“Is Malaysia safe? Of course,” said Salleh, adding that the Global Peace Index 2017 put the country at 29th out of 163 countries, and the fifth safest in Asia Pacific after New Zealand, Japan, Australia and Singapore.
“As citizens, we should be happy. Finally, this year we will hold a general election. Surely all parties are ready to face this general election.
“Hopefully the 14th general election will be the safest and most stable, and our country can move forward,” Salleh added.