Power is with those who choose, not those who were chosen


Power is with those who choose, not those who were chosen

By Zan Azlee

I’ll be honest and say that at this point in time, I think I can be very excited about how politics is developing in Malaysia. 

Potentially, it could even be more exciting to me than the results of the last general election when Pakatan Harapan managed to form the government. But I don’t want to get too ahead of myself. Let me lay it out and see what all of you out there think.

In the last few weeks, we have seen many squabbles between the different political parties, whether within the same coalition or not. The biggest and latest has to be the catfighting between Umno, Bersatu and PAS. Yes, the golden Malay triangle! So it seems that Umno has divorced Bersatu, will not work with Anwar Ibrahim and neither with DAP. 

PAS will continue to be joined at the hip with Bersatu. Who knows till when. Perhaps maybe until Bersatu is no longer in the government. I said “maybe”. And hopefully, this won’t be construed as fake news and get me in trouble with any new kind of ordinances that have come up in this emergency period. This is just political and social commentating, folks.https://711eb5018a089be80003e5fa227dc482.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

Then, we have Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s party Pejuang. Yes, it is unregistered, pending more appeals if I am not mistaken. Mahathir has said that his party may not be able to form the government alone, but it will at least be able to influence who gets to form the government by lending their support and forming coalitions.

For many years, a lot of Malaysians have felt that Malaysian politics needed to develop and progress into a two-party system, somewhat to what exists in the United States of America. Over there, they have the Democratic party and the Republican party. If you want to run for office, you need a ticket from either party.

That’s why we have had two big coalitions in Malaysia for a while now – BN and Pakatan (previously Rakyat and now Harapan). Although loose coalitions, they were mainly the two “parties” Malaysians could choose from. I guess it provided us with more simplistic arguments and causes. Black and white. Good and bad.

But now things have changed. Ever since the Sheraton Move, coalitions have become more fluid, or maybe the more apt word for it is more like drainage water. All the parties now are just flowing everywhere depending on where the best stench is to serve their own purpose. So all kinds of coalitions are being formed left, right and centre.

At the moment, I can’t even differentiate the coalitions that exist. Who is in Perikatan Nasional again? What about Muafakat Nasional? What is that? So maybe fixed coalitions during elections are going to be a thing of the past. This would also mean that the two-party system will probably not work in Malaysia. This could either be a good thing or a bad thing.

It would be bad if it is happening like how it is now where political parties seem to be jumping from one coalition to another (or staying) just for the matter of convenience and positions of power with no regard for the people who voted them in. When this happens, the only people to suffer are the people who these parties are supposed to be representing.

It would be a good thing if these parties are able to represent the people who have voted for them no matter what coalition they are in. This also means that if these parties were to join and form coalitions with other parties, they need to make sure that their core ideals are similar. Only then would it be a concerted effort. It would be fair to the people they represent too.

So basically, it all boils down to the intentions and integrity of the parties, and that can be very dangerous when it is in an environment where the majority of political parties are seen as being selfish and lack integrity. Ask ten Malaysians this question and I bet you that eight of them will say that Malaysia reeks of that environment.

Then there is the subject of who the prime minister should be. Malaysians seem to need single individuals to represent leadership and it has always been that way, whether for the government or for the opposition. For example, we always need to know who is going to be a clear candidate as prime minister.

The point should be that anyone from the winning party should be able to be prime minister because he or she is just the person to administer and execute the mandate of the people. He or she is not there to craft policies, rules and systems. The entire government is supposed to do that collectively. He or she just supervises.

Okay, let me gather everything together now. Basically, elected representatives and their parties need to work for the people who voted for them. If they stay true to that, no matter what coalition they choose to join, the core objective of representing the people needs to guide their decisions and actions, and this will be reflected in the kind of coalitions that are formed too.

Not every single Malaysian can play a role in governing and administering the country. That’s why we elect representatives. We’re basically saying, “Bro (or sis), we pick you to go to Parliament and this is what we want you to do. Then, report back to us. If you can’t do it, we’ll pick someone else.”

Then, among the bros and sis that we’ve picked, they can’t all govern and administer everything either. So they pick their own to be in the cabinet and the prime minister. And they are basically saying, “Bro (or sis), we pick you to go to Putrajaya and this is what we and the those who picked us want you to do. Then, report back to us. If you can’t do it, we’ll pick someone else.”

Logically, that is the flow of power. Those who have the power to pick and choose are the ones with the actual power. The ones who are have been picked have the least power. Well, that is how it is supposed to be. 

At the moment, with no Parliament sessions going on and no elections happening, there’s nothing much we can do anyway.

[This article was originally written for and published at Malaysiakini.com]

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