Monday, August 10, 2009


Speech of Tan Sri Datuk Seri Utama Pandikar Amin Haji Mulia. Speaker of Malaysian House of Representatives (Dewan Rakyat)

Your Excellencies,The President of AIPA and President of Thai National Assembly, Mr Chai Chidchob, SPEAKERS of the ASEAN Parliaments, Secretary General of ASEAN, Head of Delegations, Distinguish Delegates, Distinguish Observers, Ladies and Gentlemen, The Malaysian’s delegation wish to extend our deepest appreciation and gratitude to our gracious host – Thailand - for the magnificent hospitality accorded to us all. And we wish to congratulate them for the splendid preparations that they have made for this 30th General Assembly.

This conference certainly gives us the opportunity to make new friends and renew and strengthen the bonds of friendship, respect and cooperation that we already have among us the members of parliaments of ASEAN nations.

Malaysia also would like to join hand with other AIPA member countries to welcome and congratulate Brunei Darussalam for being admitted as a full member of AIPA. With her admission as a full member, Brunei Darussalam would be able to play a more meaningful role in AIPA.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Parliament in any given democratic country has the role as the guardian of national order, democracy, peace, security and social development. As parliamentarians we play important roles in safeguarding that our respective Parliaments can perform that role.Thus far, the Malaysian Parliament role in up-holding national order, democracy, peace, security and social development made us Malaysian proud.

However, I am also mindful that there are those who disagree with me on this issue.To them, any non compliance to their definition of democracy is considered not democratic.To these people we say this. The spirit and soul of Democracy is the freedom of expression of opinion. As such, interpreting democracy differently is perfectly in order.To us Malaysian democracy is a tool of government. And as a tool, it can be use or handle differently to suit the idiosyncrasies or needs of a given nation.

When asked by Fariz Zakaria of CNN in an exclusive interview, what is his view or respond to the opinion of some from the developed countries that Singapore is not that democratic or words to that affect, the Minister Mentor of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew simply said, "When Singapore was a newly independent nation, she was a small city state with an economy base on a small port and trading. Look what and where Singapore is now? Singapore's government have been run with the same system of democracy that is being criticised now. Are you saying that our democracy is not right for us?

This statement speaks volume that proves that the definition of democracy is not necessarily confines to the definition of the developed nations in order for a particular country to thrive and successful. Besides, we must also be mindful that there are certain countries in the west that practice democracy in its so called true meaning, yet the same countries still has social, economic and security problem. In his speech to the Ghanaian Parliamentarians recently President Obama expressed his opinion on democracy. He said:

“Democracy is more than just about holding elections. It's also about what happens between elections. Repression can take many forms, and too many nations, even those that have elections, are plagued by problems that condemn their people to poverty. No country is going to create wealth if its leaders exploit the economy to enrich themselves... No business wants to invest in a place where the government skims 20 percent off the top… No person wants to live in a society where the rule of law gives way to the rule of brutality and bribery. That is not democracy that is tyranny, even if occasionally we sprinkle an election in there”.

Presiden Obama further reiterated that in the 21st century, capable, reliable, and transparent institutions are the key to success. Obama opined that strong parliaments; honest police forces; independent judges; an independent press; a vibrant private sector and civil society are the things that give life to democracy, because that is what matters in people's everyday lives…… Obama admitted that these are daunting tasks that have to be accomplished if we are to attain the rapid economic development and the prosperity of peace we are working hard for.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
If Obama’s definition of democracy is the right definition than we certainly don’t fall under the category of undemocratic nations.

Like any other ASEAN Nations, Malaysia’s success to date is mainly due to the strength of her Parliamentary Democracy and certainly in line or on the same footing with what Obama said.Affirmative action - although viewed negatively by the cynical - has also been identified as a contributor to our political stability. Political stability brings about economic stability. With a stable economy the economic development for the well being of the citizen can be implemented.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
As elected representative of the people, we must ensure that our respective government strives to develop a caring society by addressing the fundamental issues of poverty, equity and human development.

This responsibility is clearly spelled out in the ASEAN Political-Security Community (APSC) Blueprint, which states that APSC shall promote political development in adherence to the principles of democracy, the rule of law and good governance, respect for and promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms as inscribed in the ASEAN Charter.

However, let us not judge each other by using our own yardstick as to which country adhered most to the objectives of APSC.

As parliamentarians let us work together to suppress negatives elements that can undermine the spirit of regional cooperation in ASEAN against a background of globalization and growing transnational issues especially on non-traditional security issues or human security issues such as terrorism, pandemics, piracy, energy and environment. The economic disaster that swept ASEAN in 1997 and the economic turmoil that the world is experiencing now should be a lesson to us that we have greater enemies outside ASEAN than within.

Ladies and Gentlemen
While it is important that each nation in ASEAN prepares for the future challenges, we should also strengthen the cooperation now already in place.

Malaysia believes that it is essential for us to refocus our attention on ASEAN's strengths, which have been collectively developed over the last four decades.

There is a need for us to nurture our sense of solidarity and cooperation, keep alive our aspiration to achieve a common vision, and most important of all, sustain our commitment to ensure the relevance of ASEAN to member states. AIPA should move along, and keep in line with other developments taking place in ASEAN. Where appropriate, AIPA should play its part to help bring into reality the ASEAN Community.

We must be nothing less than steadfast in keeping up with our sense of solidarity, and thus remaining focused on achieving our shared mission of nurturing greater regional integration.
I hope today we can signal a joint determination to work towards a day when we can say ASEAN has truly come of age; a day when the peoples of Southeast Asia believes that they are part of a community…an ASEAN COMMUNITY.
Ladies and Gentlemen
I thank you.

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