Yesterday was exactly 3 months after the General Election.
Being a Sunday, I went to my favourite coffee shop in Paramount Garden, a shop by the name of Sky and Ocean,( a very popular coffee shop). As usual, being a Sunday, the shop was so packed that my wife and I shared tables with another couple about our age. I chatted with the gentleman who was with his wife and daughter. The couple was from Penang and was visiting their daughter working and staying in PJ.
I asked the gentleman how he felt about the performance of the Pakatan Governments. He mentioned that he voted for Pakatan and he never regretted it. He said that 2 things made him proud of his voting for the opposition, the first being that the Perak government has given freehold titles to all the new villages, and secondly the Selangor government has announced that all restrictions on buildings of religious premises be removed.
The first move has helped thousands of families, and at last they can claim the places they now reside as their real homes.
The 2nd move is equally significant. By allowing followers of different faith to build without restriction places of worship, the government is tacitly acknowledging Article 11 of our Federal Constitution in which was stated :
- Every person has the right to profess and practice his religion and, subject to Clause (4), to propagate it.
- No person shall be compelled to pay any tax the proceeds of which are specially allocated in whole or in part for the purposes of a religion other than his own.
- Every religious group has the right –
- (a) to manage its own religious affairs;
- (b) to establish and maintain institutions for religious or charitable purposes; and
- (c) to acquire and own property and hold and administer it in accordance with law.
- State law and in respect of the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur and Labuan, federal law may control or restrict the propagation of any religious doctrine or belief among persons professing the religion of Islam.
- This Article does not authorize any act contrary to any general law relating to public order, public health or morality.
The gentleman which I shared my breakfast table with further mentioned that he hoped that by doing so, it would show to the people of Malaysia that it is possible to have mutual respect among religious followers of different faiths, and for once people of different faiths will feel that they are being treated equally and with respect. BY extension, people will feel that at last, that it may be possible one day that a fair and equal society emerges in Malaysia.
I have blogged before that I hope the Pakatan governments in the 5 states can succeed in carrying out the promises under their manifesto, to treat all races equally and to do away with the NEP. If they can succeed , it would then generate tremendous pressure on BN parties to do away with race politics and race economics, and these BN parties will have no choice but to adopt similar approaches of non racial policies in order to stay in power. A 2 party system, with both sides adopting nonracial approach, may then be possible , and a true Malaysian unity and a Bangsa Malaysia may finally come about.
Therefore, Malaysians, no matter what your political affiliation is, if you sincerely believe in a fair and equal society emerging in Malaysia one day, you must hope that the Pakatan state governments do well. Only then, BN will become truly non racial and the racist policies of opportunitsic politicians can be done away.
Thus, the hope of many Malaysians of living in a fair and equal society may hinge on how the 5 Pakatan governments perform, and so far, I would say, they have done fairly well in the first 90 days of government .