FAMILIAR STORIES AND "FACES"
V. A. POGADAEV
Candidate of Historical Sciences
Malaysia Keywords:, democracy, Abdullah Badawi, Najib Razak
Speaking at the National Congress of Professors on July 6, 2011, Mahathir Mohamad, Prime Minister of Malaysia from 1981 to 2003, said that being a dictator is easier than building a democratic society: "I have always been accused of dictatorial methods of government, and I have always denied it. But now that I have already left the post of prime minister, I can admit that I really was a kind of dictator, because it was easier to rule that way."1. Yes, but events in Romania and Indonesia, and more recently in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen, have shown how dictatorial regimes sometimes end up.
Although it is not easy to learn how to live in a democracy, it is still preferable to the risk of civil war or an explosion of popular anger that shakes all the foundations of the state and leads to irreparable human losses.
Mahathir's successor, Abdullah Badawi, understood this.
LEGACY OF THE "MALAYSIAN GORBACHEV"
As Prime Minister of Malaysia from 2003 to 2009, Badawi spearheaded the push for democratization and transparency, stepped up the fight against corruption, and eased pressure on the opposition.
The new prime Minister practically stopped applying the Law on Internal Security, which allows anyone whose actions threaten (or may threaten) the security of the country to be arrested and held in prison for up to two years without trial or investigation. The deadline can be extended many times. The law was passed more than half a century ago, under the British, to fight the Communist Party of Malaya that rebelled in 1948, but it is still alive today. Of course, it is hard not to be tempted to use it against your political opponents, as Mahathir did repeatedly, and before becoming prime Minister, he criticized this law2.
Abdullah Badawi has earned himself the title of " Malaysia's Gorbachev." But ironically, like the first and last president of the USSR, he also became a hostage to his own politics and ended his political career in general ingloriously.
The opposition, feeling free, raised its head, and the electorate, no longer afraid of repressive measures from the state, perhaps for the first time in the country's history, voted freely, undermining the position of the ruling bloc. In the parliamentary elections, the opposition won 47% of the vote, and in a number of Malaysian states it was able to form its own authorities.
Abdullah Badawi was forced to take responsibility for the election results and, not without pressure from Mahathir and other opponents of rapid reform, quit the post of Prime Minister, handing it over to his deputy Najib Razak (Najib bin Abdul Razak)**.
The new prime minister found himself in a difficult position.
On the one hand, he needs to continue the course of reforms and democratization, and on the other - to do everything possible to prevent the opposition from repeating its success in new general elections, which can be held as early as 2012.A task truly worthy of Hercules, who cleared the Augean stables.
The opposition, like a gin released from a bottle, is increasing its pressure on the government, encouraging it to respond in various ways. The danger to Najib's position comes not only from the opposition, but also from his own party, the United Malays National Organization (UMNO). If the Prime minister fails to deliver a convincing victory for OMNO and its allies in the next election, he may follow in Badawi's footsteps.
His deputy, Muhiddin bin Yassin, who is older than Najib and may not have another chance to become prime minister, is already eyeing the prime minister's chair. The fact that there are tensions between the prime minister and his deputy, rumors have long and persistently circulated in political circles, which even prompted Muhiddin to come out with a refutation of these rumors. "My relations with the Prime Minister are still good, and no one has the right to question my support for him," he said in an August 2010 interview.
* Mahathir bin Mohamad (son of Mohamad), or Mahathir (editor's note).
** For more information, see: Pogadaev V. A. One Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak // Asia and Africa Today, 2009, No. 12 (Editor's note).
Presentation of the book "Najib Razak - the initiator of the transformation of Malaysia", published by the Ministry of Information 3.
But the public regarded these denials exactly the opposite.
It should not be forgotten that Muhiddin also holds the post of Minister of Education, which is key from the point of view of elections. This position allows him to influence the teachers of rural schools, which are traditionally the mainstay of OMNO, primarily the Minister of Education. Muhiddin has already gained respect by revoking the 2012 decision made under Mahathir to switch the teaching of mathematics and science in primary schools to English.4 This decision was extremely unpopular among Malay teachers and the Malay intelligentsia in general, who saw it as a threat to the position of the national Malay language.5 They did not limit themselves to statements and articles in the press, but even organized a mass demonstration and a march to the palace of the Supreme Ruler (King) to present the petition.
REBELLIOUS" PURITY " OF THE ELECTION
A serious test for Najib's democratization course was the work of the coalition of 62 public organizations "Bersih "(in Malay - "clean"), which advocates for clean elections and is supported by a bloc of opposition parties.
The confrontation between security forces and participants in the mass demonstrations organized by Bershih on July 9, 2011, called the "march of democracy", almost paralyzed the life of the capital, and Najib's actions in this situation did not help to increase his authority. "Many people believe, "the Wall Street Journal columnist noted," that a radical reform of the electoral system will lead to the defeat of the ruling bloc, which is why OMNO is so afraid of the Bersih organization. "6
Initially, under the influence of the king's statement, which called for a compromise after a meeting with representatives of Bersih ,Najib suggested limiting the organization's action to a rally at one of the stadiums. The opposition chose the Merdeka Stadium, where the independence of Malaya (as Malaysia was then called) was proclaimed on August 31, 1957.
This was too much, and the police banned the rally on the grounds that it was not sanctioned by the authorities. At the same time, the word "haram" was used, which means something forbidden, canonically forbidden to Muslims.
Kuala Lumpur was blocked off by police to prevent anyone from entering the capital from other parts of the country, especially those wearing yellow T - shirts-the color that has become the symbol of the Bersih organization. They were not only prevented from entering the city, but also detained in police stations.
The police were also active in the far-flung state of Sabah, located on the island of Borneo (Malay Archipelago), raided the headquarters of the opposition Sabah Progressive Party just because the slogan "Clean, bold and truthful" hung at its entrance, which had nothing to do with the Bersih organization.
Even Malaysia's first poet, National writer Abdul Samad Saeed, the pride of Malaysian literature, became a victim of police actions. On the eve of the events, he took part in one of the events of Bersikh, reading his poem" Cleansing Fire "(which mentions the word bersikh) and was immediately arrested and taken to the police station, where he spent several hours. The police, he said, interrogated him intensively, trying to find out how much and from whom he received for reciting his poems. The arrest of a prominent writer caused a storm of indignation. More than a hundred cultural figures, including three National writers (Anwar Ridwan, Mohamad Haji Saleh, Nurdin Hassan) signed the statement.
an expression of protest against such treatment of a world-famous poet.
The ban on the rally had no effect. Supporters of the Bersih organization, led by its leader, lawyer Ambila Srinevesan, were able to break through cordons on some streets in the center of the capital. And Abdul Samad Said and his "support group" even managed to get to the Merdeka stadium. The police acted harshly, using water cannons and tear gas to disperse the demonstrators. 1,700 people were arrested 7. Anwar Ibrahim, the leader of the opposition and chairman of the People's Justice Party, was also injured in clashes with police, and was taken to hospital with minor abrasions.
Malaysian students actively supported the Bersiha campaign both at home and abroad (in Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, France, Switzerland, England, USA and Canada). In this regard, the Minister of Higher Education even instructed university rectors to take disciplinary measures against 500 students who took part in the demonstrations.
Foreign workers in the country (more than two million people) were warned that supporting the Bersikh actions threatens them with expulsion from the country8. Some fragments of an article published in the Economist magazine about these events were covered with black paint in Malaysia.9
Demagogic attempts were also made to link Bersih's actions to the activities of pro-communist elements (a favorite device of the Malaysian authorities, given the traumatic syndrome of the past among the majority of the country's population-a negative attitude towards local communists)and even "international Zionism".10
The harsh police measures were condemned by the international community. German Ambassador to Malaysia G. Gruber said that "the actions of the authorities are not conducive to attracting foreign investment in the country" 11. Amnesty International called on the Pope and Queen Elizabeth II of England "not to spread the red carpet" in front of the Malaysian Prime Minister, who planned to visit the Vatican and London shortly after the dispersal of the demonstration "Bersikha " 12. The Queen, of course, received Najib as the prime minister of a country that is part of the Commonwealth of Nations, but, as observers note, appeared at the audience (intentionally or accidentally) in a dazzling yellow Bersikha dress 13.
The demonstrators were unable to present their petition to the King of Malaysia. But Najib has learned some lessons from these events.
Immediately after the demonstration, he announced the need to make some changes to the procedure for holding elections that would make them more transparent (the use of fingerprints, non-removable ink, a better procedure for nominating candidates, etc.), for which he ordered the creation of a special commission14. Moreover, he made a statement that the notorious Law The law on internal Security will soon be repealed and replaced by a law that will limit the right of the authorities to prevent the detention of citizens on national security grounds.15
Interception of opposition slogans by the government bloc is a long-standing way of weakening opposition forces. So did Najib's father, Prime Minister in 1970-1976. Abdul Razak, Mahathir also acted in the same way, activating the process of Islamization in the hope of undermining the position of the Islamic Party: what is the point of voting for it if the ruling party is ready to do the same?
But the authorities understand that in order to attract the electorate to their side, they also need socio-economic measures to improve the financial situation of the country's population. After all, the prime minister's rating began to fall after the dispersal of the Bersikh demonstration. According to a survey conducted by the Merdeka Center, an independent polling service, the number of respondents who approve of Najib's activities fell from 65% to 59%between May and August 201116.
2012 budget, released-
The law adopted in October 2011 is almost completely subordinated to the interests of ensuring victory in elections and contains almost no measures aimed at solving long-term economic development problems.17
In accordance with the budget, tuition fees for public schools at all levels are abolished, the salary of state officials is increased by an average of 30%, at the beginning of the year, a bonus of 50% of salary is provided for, and various one-time additional payments are made to pensioners, retired military personnel, police officers, and the poor (with an income of less than three thousand * per month per family). The construction of cheap homes for low-income families should also be stepped up. 1.3 million students of public and private universities will receive vouchers of 200 ringgit for the purchase of books. Farmers, especially those who develop new land through the Federal Agency for the Development of New Lands, are granted additional benefits, and their children receive a preferential right to enter universities and colleges.
At the same time, active work is underway to break up the opposition and split the opposition bloc of three parties (the People's Justice Party, the Democratic Action Party, and the Islamic Party). The Islamic Party, which previously (in 1973-1977) was a member of the ruling National Front, has repeatedly received offers of cooperation.18
Any missteps of the opposition in the states it controls are hypertrophied by the central media under the control of the Government.
The trial of its leader, Anwar Ibrahim, on charges of criminally persecuted homosexuality, was used to denigrate the opposition. Although the high court eventually acquitted Anwar in January 2012,19 Political observers do not rule out that the prosecution will try to appeal to the federal Court of Appeal to challenge the judge's decision.
Meanwhile, videos of a "man who looks like Anwar" having sex with a 20-year-old female prostitute began to appear on the Internet.
Whether Najib will be able to fulfill his task, i.e. improve or at least maintain the position of the ruling bloc in the upcoming elections, we will probably find out soon. The streets of the capital are being put in order, new asphalt is being laid. And this, according to popular signs, means that the upcoming elections are about to be announced.
Heavy is the cap of Monomakh in Malaysia, which has embarked on a thorny path to democracy.
Mahathir Mohamad. 1 Mentransformasi Negara Melangkau 2020 (Post-2020 Transformation of the country). The speech was not published anywhere and is quoted from memory by the author of the article who participated in the Congress.
2 During Operation Lalang alone, 106 people were arrested under this law on 27 October 1987 and the licenses of the daily newspapers Star and Esin Chu Jit Po and the weekly Sunday Star and Watan were revoked. The reason was the opposition's disagreement with the government's policy towards Chinese schools. For more information, see: Kia Soong. 445 Days Under the ISA. Kuala Lumpur: GB Gerakbudaya Enterprise Sdn Bhd, 2010.
3 My Relationship with Najib Good: Muhyiddin// Bernama, 10.08.2010.
Isahak Haron. 4 Bahasa Melayu untuk Sains, Matematik tetap realistik (Malay language for natural science and mathematics is quite a realistic task) / / Berita Harian, 07.03.2009.
Abdullah Hassan. 5 Kemajuan Negara Beracukan Bahasa dan Budaya Melayu (Progress of the country depends on the development of the Malay language and culture) / / Dewan Bahasa. N 2(4), 2002.
Malott John R. 6 Running Scared in Malaysia // Wall Street Journal, 08.07.2011.
7 The Economist, 16.07.2011.
8 Kosmo, 12.07.2011.
9 The Economist. Op. cit.
10 Malaysia Kini, 12.07.2011.
11 The Malaysian Insider, 11.07.2011.
12 Malaysia Kini. Op. cit.
Hunt Luke. 18 Najib, the Qeen and the Pope // The Diplomat, 19.07.2011.
14 Kosmo, 18.08.2011.
15 Internal Security Act to be Abolished, says Najib // Bernama.com. 15.09.2011.
16 Peninsular Malaysia Voters Opinion Poll. August 11 - 27, 2011 - http://www.merdeka.org/
17 The Malaysian Insider, 8.10.2011.
18 Utusan Malaysia, 25.06.2009.
19 Berita Harian, 10.01.2012.
20 Anwar Rejects Sex Video Claims // New Straits Times, 21.03.2011.
* $1 is equal to approximately 3.17 Malaysian ringgit (approx. ed.).
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