Could this determine how Malaysian politics will be in the future?
By Zan Azlee
I think many would agree that the last week is one period where many Malaysians felt most anxious at the same time.
That must be something that can be registered under the Malaysian Book of Records, no? I admit that I was one of those who was feeling very anxious as well, so much so that it has manifested into a neck ache that is only now starting to fade away.
Malaysia has never had such political uncertainty before. Even two years ago in 2018, after Barisan Nasional was unseated from the government after more than 60 years, people were not as worried or anxious as they were in the last week.
I’m sure what happened has left a scar in many Malaysians and they feel that it marks the death of democracy.
I feel the same way. A coalition that we had voted in broke up because several individuals and a whole component party felt that they wanted to struggle for power.
So they left the coalition and joined forces with the opposition to take over the government. Yes, it does sound dirty as a garbage truck in the 1980s.
But if we really think about it, nothing done to change the administration was done illegally. There are no laws that stop Members of Parliament from jumping parties or changing alliances.
It is also very clear in the Federal Constitution that the Agong is allowed to appoint the Prime Minister that he feels garners the support of Parliament. Everything that happened is legit.
So after a few days of wallowing in the gallows after Muhyiddin Yassin was sworn in as the Prime Minister, I have decided to take a different outlook of things.
I guess I went through all parts of the five stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. So hear me out and maybe I can convince you to do the same.
Malaysia has always had a central authoritative figure that would lead the country. A strong party president or Prime Minister would lead a whole stable of followers to administer the country.
Even when the opposition were so adamant at unseating Barisan Nasional, they couldn’t do it until a strong authoritative figure (I’m referring to Dr Mahathir) came into the picture.
But a true democracy should stand much larger than any authoritative figure or individual. Malaysia is a country that should be bigger than anyone, be it Mahathir, Anwar Ibrahim, Lim Kit Siang, Muhyiddin Yassin, Azmin Ali, or whoever.
What that means is that the country’s institutions that serve the people must always be strong and upheld.
Our judiciary needs to be strong to uphold justice. Our police force and the military need to be strong to protect the people.
Our agencies like the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission, the Election Commission, etc, need to continue to ensure the rights of the people are protected. The ministries and their departments need to be firm in their operations.
Because at the end of the day, the institutions shall remain in service to the people while politicians, in a mature democracy, will come and go.
That’s why I find it a little bit upsetting to see people like Tommy Thomas and Latheefa Koya resigning from their positions as Attorney-General and MACC chief respectively.
Although they are political appointees, they should be non-partisan and serve the interests of the people. If they are sacked, then it is a different matter.
Then, that would be on whoever is the government at that point. This also points to the fact that whoever this current government chooses to head all the institutions will be key to indicate what kind of government they will be.
I also feel that the fact that parliament (and the whole country) is split almost down to the middle means that the check and balance process will become more stringent and workable.
Whoever is in government won’t be able to bulldoze changes in laws and policies as easily as it was before. Everything will have to be debated intensely.
Yes, before you all start calling bloody murder, I do realise that there are many unjust laws and policies that have been bulldozed before and needs to be amended or abolished, and that can only happen with a two-thirds support in parliament.
Well, this is the perfect opportunity to show that our lawmakers can act for the people instead of their own self-interests.
I also believe that the current simple majority government that has been formed will be a model for how the future of Malaysian politics will be.
It will be a government that will have to abide by what the people want and also to consider arguments from the opposition because their position isn’t full proof and guaranteed. Make mistakes and it will be easy for them to be voted out.
For example, people are adamant at telling Muhyiddin that he needs to pick a clean cabinet and not one that consists of MPs who are facing corruption charges.
I doubt that Muhyiddin can disregard this because he will be criticised to kingdom come. Same with the issue of dropping charges against all the Umno leaders who in court right now. It won’t go down well.
Basically, my hope is that Malaysia will have a fluid democracy whereby no coalition or party will dominate.
The people need to have a proper choice during the general elections in all the available parties so that they can pick and choose whichever government they feel is needed at any particular time for their country. But of course, we will have to wait and see.
In the meantime, I still say that we should continue to voice our displeasure. If we feel the need to demonstrate, then do so peacefully.
If anything unfavourable is done by the government, then criticise them. Just because the change in government happened legally doesn’t mean it happened ethically.
And when the time comes for the people to do something, then we will be prepared. We did it once in 2018, and we can do it again.
[This article was originally written for and published at Malaysiakini.com]
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