Friday, January 29, 2010

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim: Frontliner for Democracy

As a political science major and later on, as a participant in some of the Track II processes in ASEAN, I have always taken interest in the life and struggle of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, former Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia. Anwar, in the beginning was a reformer in the Malaysian parliament, his platform reformasi, resounded in the halls of the Malaysian parliament and beyond, so loudly that Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad felt threatened.

Anwar, initially reluctant to challenge the decades long leadership of “the Mahathir”, experienced first hand the tyranny of the Malaysian Justice system and how easily it could be exploited by the ruling United Malays National Organization (UMNO). His personal experience prompted him to launch the REAL REFORMASI, directed against the authoritarian rule of the UMNO through Mahathir (and apparently continued in the current reign of Abdullah Ahmad Badawi).

Meeting him personally today was quite exhilarating. In a time when peaceful democratic transitions through election is threatened, Anwar’s call to fight for democracy, sends a clear message that we must do what we can to ensure clean and honest elections. We need a leader with a clear mandate from the people, and one who stands in a moral high ground to institute reforms.

Although I have read on Anwar for a long time, I was pleasantly surprised to know that he regards Dr. Jose Rizal as the precursor of the Asian renaissance to the point that he even sponsored democratic lectures in Malaysia named after Jose Rizal.

The most important message I got from Anwar today is hope for the peace process. Last January 5, I blogged about my concern regarding the authoritarian tendencies of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). I highlighted the fact that in various communications that the MILF issued (some of which are quoted in the MILF official website), it repeatedly expressed its disdain for democracy.

The MILF described democracy as a divisive process and hence, they will not in any way participate in it. I asked myself: if we empower the MILF or grant it an authority within specific regions that vote to be included in its envisioned territorial space for the Bangsamoro, will it govern through Islamic theocracy (complete union of Church and State a la Iran or Afghanistan under the Taliban)?

Anwar today gave me hope as he sent the message that Islam and Democracy are not inconsistent. In fact, as he pointed out, there are democratic concepts in the Quran.

I truly wish that the MILF would see as Anwar sees. Democracy is an imperfect system but I am convinced beyond doubt that it is still the best system.

Entry No. 12

Bryan A. San Juan

1 comment:

Owen Ricalde said...

i just read in the newspaper that the sodomy case against him will still push through despite the lack of evidence against him. i just watched invictus a while ago and somehow this gives me hope. the paradigm can change. i hope our brothers in the muslim world can see that violence is not a solution to anything.