Lim Guan Eng

‘Power should speak truth to people’

I liked it. I liked it very much especially since I thought I would not hear this being said by a Malaysian leader in my lifetime.

Hence, it was very heartening and encouraging when none other than Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said: “Power should speak truth to the people.”

My friends and I, have for the past decade through the Rapera movement, been urging governments to be transparent in their actions. The people should be given facts so that they can participate effectively in nation-building. Democracy can only function effectively if the rakyat have access to information, especially when it concerns important policies and the use of taxpayers’ money.

Hence, when the Finance Minister exposed the excesses of the former government, we welcomed it. It was rather ironical some criticised him for being transparent. We should actually be applauding and encouraging greater transparency.

The rakyat actually hopes that more excesses are not only exposed but remedial actions are taken so that such abuses do not recur.

It is through such exposures that the masses can learn to be more vigilant of the expenditures of the government. It will also educate people to evaluate the priority and necessity of government projects and programmes.

In this sense, the rakyat is truly able to be responsible and responsive to assisting the government in charting the future of our country. I hope to see greater engagement between the people’s representatives and their constituents, especially on far-reaching legislation and policies.

For democracy to be effective and vibrant, we need an informed pool of citizens – those who have access to facts and information. Only with information can the rakyat make informed and considered suggestions and decisions. Only then will there be a true partnership between the government and the people.

I have always maintained that one of the greatest gifts of God to the common people is the Internet and social media. It is these two that truly democratised many aspects of the common man’s life.

Even where politicians want to hide information from the people, social media enables them to be exposed. It also acts as a forum where the rakyat can exchange views and information in spite of the control over mainstream media. This is a fact many politicians and religious institutions in our country have yet to accept.  You no longer can effectively mind-control the people – be it politics or religion.

Politicians in general like to keep information close to their chests. Information is power and when information is withheld from the rakyat, it is easy to control and mislead the rakyat.

Hidden information (other than security matters) usually is indicative of political abuse. Hence it is commendable that the finance minister begun the culture of sharing information with the rakyat.