What is happening to Najib’s promise to usher in greater democracy?
In this piece I wrote for Asia Times, I try to explain why he appears to be having second thoughts about moving towards real democracy. You could call it Najib’s Dilemma.
The speedy passage of the ironically named Peaceful Assembly Bill – which effectively legally bars street protests – has put Prime Minister Najib Razak’s avowed commitment to ushering in greater democracy and civil liberties under intense new scrutiny.
On 15 September, Najib surprised many when he announced a repeal of the Internal Security Act, the lifting of various 1970s era “emergency” promulgations and related orders, and an easing of strict laws governing publication permits and public gatherings.
Since then, however, little has actually changed in practice. The ISA will be repealed in March, but detention without trial will continue under two new laws to deal with terrorism and maintain public order. Last month 13 people, including six Indonesians, were detained under the ISA in Tawau, Sabah, for alleged terrorist activities, sparking criticism that the arrests made a mockery of Najib’s earlier avowal to repeal the law.
Full article in Asia Times.