Rebuilding The Nation, Reclaiming Malaysia’s Position in the World

Statement by the Malaysian Social Science Association (PSSM) on the 14th General Election

  1. The Malaysian Social Science Association (PSSM) welcomes a new dawn for Malaysia, the birth of Malaysia Baharu (new Malaysia). This historic change has been ushered in by the Malaysian people in the 14th General Election on May 9, 2018 when they voted for Pakatan Harapan (PH) to form the new federal government and most of the state governments. Democracy is still very much alive in Malaysia as evidenced by the ending of sixty one years of UMNO-BN rule through the ballot, the first time in the country’s history. This is an indication that Malaysians seem to have rejected the politics of race and reclaimed their right to the nation’s destiny. Through their votes, Malaysians have sent a clear message that those in power must listen to the voices of the people irrespective of their backgrounds and celebrate unity in diversity.
  2. We, in the Malaysian Social Science Association, warmly congratulate the Pakatan Harapan government under the leadership of Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and his team. We also welcome the appointment of the Council of Eminent Persons whose experience and wisdom will provide the much needed advice on the strategic directions for our beloved country.
  3. The new government has a mammoth task cut out for them to rebuild the nation, reform the institutions of governance, heal the nation by overcoming the divides, regain public confidence and trust, and move forward as a united Bangsa Malaysia. There is so much to be done, so many things to set right and quickly especially in the first 100 days. It will not be easy setting right years of unfavourable environment, corruption, mismanagement and abuse of power, repressive laws, division and distrust. To those who have broken the law, let justice be served without vengeance or malice. The new leadership not only has the support of millions of Malaysians, young and old, and men and women of all ethnic groups and regions, but it also carries their hope and aspirations to transform Malaysia into a competitive and developed nation which firmly upholds integrity and the people’s welfare, and protects national heritage including the environment.
  4. As part of the process of healing and rebuilding the nation, one of the main tasks is to build a new national consensus based on the fundamentals of the country’s Constitution and the principles of Rukun Negara. Towards this end, consultations and dialogues with all sectors of society need to be undertaken.
  5. For democracy to thrive, we need a strong opposition, a free media, and a vibrant civil society. UMNO and BN, as opposition for the first time at the federal level and at most of the states level, should use their opportunity in the present unfamiliar position to reform themselves and come back to life again as a credible and honourable opposition. The media and civil society organisations can contribute meaningfully in the new environment by being critical, transparent and constructive. In the final analysis, for a democracy to flourish, the people themselves must be the custodians of their freedom, defenders of the nation’s democracy, and providers of checks and balances. It is to be noted that power invariably corrupts if the power holders lose their sense of integrity; hence, the people must make the leaders accountable to them.
  6. More importantly, Malaysia must overcome its negative image nationally and internationally. We must make the nation stand tall again in the eyes of the world. There is every reason to believe that, in time, we will emerge as one of the truly great nations of the world. Nothing less will suffice. Let the word go forth that freedom and democracy have been reinstated and found its proper home built by the majority of the people who are the real champions of the cause. Let struggling and oppressed people everywhere take hope and be inspired that nothing is impossible, that freedom will triumph in the end. And it can be done without foreign troops, foreign interference or violence.
  7. On the academic front, the Malaysian Social Science Association hopes that there will be respect for diversity of views and the freedom of thought so that academicians can speak the truth without fear or favour, especially to those in power. In this regard, we welcome the new government’s promise to repeal various repressive laws including the Universities and University Colleges Act (Amendments) and undertake university reforms. We call for the promotion of the much-needed independent-minded scholarship and an enabling environment in universities to institutionalise a culture of critical discourse and innovation to advance the knowledge frontiers. We also urge the promotion of good governance in the universities so that there will be appreciation of talents, the practice of appointments based on merit — more so appointment to top leadership positions — and the elimination of the practice of political appointees. Through these concerted efforts, we believe our universities can rise and move forward to meet the needs and dreams of future generations of Malaysians.

Executive Committee
Malaysian Social Science Association (PSSM)
23 May 2018

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