I WOULD prefer a government of parliamentary democracy with constitutional monarchy to a government formed through the military takeover or the seizure of power by a section of legislators midway during the tenure of office of an incumbent administration, even though they were duly elected and forming the majority in terms of numbers in Parliament.
The latter method of forming a government has created a precedent in Malaysia; it has produced uncertainty. The fear is that such method of securing power may be repeated in future and there will be no end to coups and counter coups. All these will undermine, in the long run, the purpose of having elections.
My hope and prayer is that after the next general election in Malaysia, there will not be a repeat of the Sheraton Move. Let it be the first and the last.
The Constitution of Malaysia is still a functional document. In it are enshrined the fundamentals of a stable government: principles of the separation of powers, checks and balances, and the necessity of holding regular elections. For the past half a century, we have been living in this system and we have overcome the challenges and have survived to this day. The related institutions made under the provisions of our Constitution are still functional. You may amend the Constitution from time to time but never at any time may you undermine its core principle: the rule of law.
Normally, the choice of the Prime Minister of a country comes after a government has been formed, after a general election.
For all its faults, the system of government that we have been accustomed to since 1963 has withstood the test of time. Through the process of fair and open elections, the political party or a coalition of parties which wins the majority of seats in the legislature has the right to form the government of the day. And once that government is formed, let it administer the country undisturbed, according to its policies, based on the election manifestoes of the parties forming that government. It is their task to prove that they can deliver the goods. Otherwise, their days in office are numbered – through the electoral process.
Such a system allows for plenty of room for criticism and alternative ideas or input from the ordinary people. It allows political parties which did not manage to win the majority of seats in the legislature to oppose or criticise the implementation of the government’s policies, or to provide constructive ideas for the good of the community as a whole.
The opposition members who form the Shadow Cabinet assume the role of an alternative government. Their key leaders are designated as Shadow Ministers.
One example will do by way of illustrating this concept of government-in-waiting. Some people in Sarawak may remember Prof Michael Leigh of the Faculty of Social Sciences at Unimas. Now his son, Andrew Leigh, is an Australian Labour Party MP and a Shadow Assistant Minister. If and when his party wins the next federal election, Andrew may be appointed to a post in the relevant ministry.
We should emulate this Australian model. Just a passing thought; it will require more study for it to be tried out in this country.
During the lockdown, no thanks to Covid- 19, I have been following online debates on various topics and have observed with growing concern the views expressed by netizens, especially during the debate on who should be the Prime Minister of Malaysia in the event the previous government should come back by a counter move. It looks like the sky is the limit for the freedom of expression.
I am sad to note that there is a heavy dosage of slander, libel, and sedition in many postings by certain Malaysians. This is un-Malaysian! Although I will be the first to condemn curtailment of the freedom of expression/press, I am uncomfortable with the level of hatred and venom spouted through the social media by my countrymen.
Freedom of speech has its limitations but on Malaysian social media, the sky is the limit.
I wish this government, or the next, will be able to handle the problem. Its toxicity undermines the foundations of the nation and the fabric of society.
Most of the negotiations on who should be the next Prime Minister of Malaysia are done in the open. I find it odd. Negotiations should be held within the four walls of the party headquarters or in any room with doors closed, not being broadcast to all and sundry. A new normal, I suppose.
In a way this open discussion is good in the sense that the members of the general public can participate in the deliberations of political matters. They can provide input (criticisms, suggestions, for and against, neutral viewpoints). But the freedom can be abused and therefore counter-productive, even destructive, if your enemy knows how to exploit your weakness.
Anyway, it’s the new normal, I suppose.
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