The Future Of PR

It has now become more and more apparent that PAS and DAP don’t play well together. Ever since the Selangor Menteri Besar imbroglio, blows have been traded repeatedly ad nauseam

Over the past few weeks, the issue on the table has been PAS President, Dato Seri Haji Hadi Awang (HA)’s absence from Pakatan Rakyat (PR) presidential council meetings

In all fairness, HA is an elderly man and is thus more prone to sicknesses. For the sake of the betterment of PR, shouldn’t HA temporarily delegate his ultimate decision-making power to a trusted right hand man? Or at least step down in order that a physically fit person may take the helm

Yes, PAS does send its representatives (namely deputy president Mohamad Sabu and vice-president Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man) for PR presidential council meetings. However, if you have been following the recent criticisms by DAP, it centers around HA having veto power and yet being absent from the meetings

Basically, whatever is agreed upon by the PAS representatives in the presidential council meetings may be overruled by HA at the end of the day. Thus, DAP has a valid point when it says that a PR presidential council meeting without HA is akin to PAS being absent

It is clearly undemocratic for a political party leader to have veto power in every matter considering other leaders are also elected by the members of the party. As cliche as it sounds, there is a lot of truth to the saying “power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely” (Lord Acton)

If PAS refuses to sort out the aforementioned issues, PR’s effectiveness as a coalition would undeniably be adversely affected, and PR may need to reconsider its composition. After all, you can’t join the school but refuse to wear the uniform!

Just like when Britain entered the European Union (then known as the European Community) in 1973, it had to subject itself to EU treaties, regulations, directives, and European Court of Justice (ECJ) decisions despite having done things its own way for centuries

A good example of PR’s effectiveness being hindered would be when the PR presidential council accepted the proposal for Datuk Seri Wan Azizah to be nominated as the new Selangor MB, and HA ended up vetoing the decision and nominating candidates of his liking

Another problematic issue is PAS’ continuous insistence on implementing hudud. Prior to the 13th General Election, PAS seemed to have abandoned its hudud agenda by pursuing a benevolent state concept.

Needless to say, the whole “Pas For All” election slogan, gained PAS the votes of many non-muslims who were unsure of PAS yet wanted a regime change. However, after GE 13, PAS reverted back to advocating hudud

Since PAS is seriously considering implementing hudud in Kelantan and has taken many steps to realise it (e.g. a federal-level hudud technical committee, finalising that “trained professionals” will be carrying out the amputations), it is high time for PKR and DAP to consider whether to move on without PAS

PAS’ move may gain support from the more hard line Islamists, but it is sure to cause loss of votes for PR because DAP and PKR will be seen as being inable to influence PAS to abandon its wishes for hudud.

A PR without PAS would most definitely appeal to the more progressive Malaysians. Will we see a PR coalition without PAS/DAP? Or will we see PR end up just like Barisan Alternatif? Or will PR learn how to sort out its differences and work together? Only time will tell

On a side note, if UMNO Kelantan supports PAS’ efforts (which is has in the past), it is time for MCA, MIC, and Gerakan to reconsider its partnership in BN. After all, what’s the point of being in a coalition if your view doesn’t matter?

*This awesome article appeared in The Malay Mail Online, The Malaysian Insider, Malaysiakini, and Free Malaysia Today

Aftermath of the Selangor Menteri Besar Impasse

The Selangor Menteri Besar impasse has left a bitter taste in many of our mouths, especially of those in the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) coalition. Inter alia, we have seen bickering, backstabbing, craven acts, and a myriad of volte-face.

It has been an abject past few months to say the least. Even in the aftermath, we have boorish comments (such as Lim Guan Eng labelling the former 4 PAS excos that stood by Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim as “traitors” and PAS Youth saying PAS will one day leave PR) coming from the different PR parties which are supposed to be Malaysia’s hope of one day replacing Barisan Nasional (BN) as the federal government

It’s time that PR stops drying their dirty linen in public. The more insults hurled at one another in public, the less confidence the people have in PR as a whole. A survey by The Malaysian Insider and Merdeka Center indicated that PR may lose Selangor if snap polls were held

PR should learn to settle their differences behind closed doors. They can learn a lot from the constitutional convention of collective ministerial responsibility (a.k.a cabinet collective responsibility) whereby members of the Cabinet must publicly support all governmental decisions made in Cabinet, even if they do not privately agree with them

Basically the PR component parties must maintain a united front and all toe the line. No more puerile statements made in public! Behind the scenes is where discussions are held, ideas are ridiculed, chairs are hurled, name calling is done, etc

PR’s current system of operating on consensus has proven to be greatly flawed in the recently concluded Selangor MB saga. PKR and DAP agreed on only nominating Dr Wan Azizah’s name but PAS had something else in mind.

There was clearly no consensus and the fact that PKR and DAP were so obdurate and kept insisting on having their way shows that the consensus system is more effective theoretically than practically

OMG!’s proposed decision making mechanism will greatly benefit PR. His/her proposal is that each member of the PR triumvirate be allotted votes to decide on matters involving PR according to its representation in Parliament and state assemblies, with 60% allocated to Parliament and 40% to all 13 state assemblies.

“(a) First, the number of Parliament seats is divided: (PAS: DAP: PKR) as (21:38:29) at GE13

(b) The number of state seats is divided similarly as (85:95:48) at GE 13.

Note: In both cases, PKR’s total has been reduced by one state seat and 1 Parliament seat reflecting Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim’s new Independent status.

(c) After applying the 60:40 weightage, we find that the votes, within PR, to be allotted to the 3 members PAS:DAP:PKR, are 29:43:28. Total 100 votes in the new proposed system.

The present, less satisfactory consensus/(agree to disagree) approach could now be replaced by a 2/3 majority vote, i.e., a 2/3 majority of 67 votes means that the decision is adopted by PR and dissenting members must fall in line”

Regarding any decision, the PR parties will meet up, deliberate, and then vote on the issue. The moment a 2/3 majority is achieved, the issue is resolved and every party has to stand firm with it.

This decision-making system that is similar to the “electoral collegial system which governs the US presidential elections based on the results in the various states” would prevent further straining the already strained relationship between PKR, DAP, and PAS

The parties not happy with the votes allotted to them can work harder to win more seats in the 14th General Election in order to increase their say in PR policies & decisions. This proposal appears to be the panacea that PR has been looking for. The idea should be seriously and thoroughly considered!

*This article also appeared in The Malaysian Insider, The Malay Mail Online, and Malaysia Today

What DAP Truly Fights For

Considering the never ending remarks about DAP being anti-islam and anti-malays, I decided to assess whether it is true or not. My assessment is based on DAP’s objectives, policies, and declarations which can be found on its website

1. DAP’s objectives are as follows:

1. a Malaysian Malaysia concept by forging Malaysian race with universal moral values,
2. offering equal access and opportunity;
3. democratic governance and rule of law;
4. creating wealth and distributing wealth equitably; and
5. fighting against corruption

2. DAP’s policies relevant to the topic at hand are stated below

(i) “On nation building

Abolition of the division of “bumiputra” and “non-bumiputra” and the implementation of ethnic equality”

(ii) “On economic development

replacement of the ethnic quota system with a policy of “merits and needs”

(iii) “On Youth

abolition of ethnic quota system in education, the Universities and University Colleges Act and all other laws and regulations that retard the full development of the potential of Malaysia citizens.”

Their first and second objective can be contentious. I elaborated on the concept of Malaysian Malaysia in a much earlier post. Basically, Malaysian Malaysia is about equal rights between all citizens

One can allege that DAP is anti-malay because if the concept of Malaysian Malaysia is implemented, it would mean the removal of all special privileges given to bumiputeras (e.g. positions in public service, scholarships).

Furthermore,  does ‘equal access and opportunity’ mean the support for a non-malay Prime Minister in the future? If it does, those uncomfortable with the idea would definitely see this is an anti-malay propaganda

Chief Justice Brian in Brogden v Metropolitan Railway Co once said “for even the devil does not know what the thought of man is.” Likewise, no one can know DAP’s true intention for advocating the Malaysian Malaysia concept.

DAP’s third, fourth and fifth objective is laudable, as it is in line with the principle of fairness

DAP’s policy in point (i) was affirmed in the 1967 Setapak Declaration. Clearly DAP opposes the distinction between bumiputera and non-bumiputera.

Bumiputeras who are pleased with the status quo would use this as a supporting point that DAP is anti-malay. After all, if DAP was not anti-malay, why remove the distinction?

The real reason behind the opposition to the distinction is that DAP believes it is a hindrance to the process of nation-building (as per the Setapak Declaration 1967)

Well, it doesn’t seem anti-malay or anti-islam. However, DAP should elaborate on how the distinction affects the process of nation-building in order to convince its critics 

Regarding point (ii), meritocracy is generally a widely accepted system as it stands for giving a benefit/benefits to all those who deserve it.

No favouritism is involved when it comes to meritocracy. Point (ii) was articulated in the 1981 Petaling Declaration

Prima facie, point (ii) erodes the rights of the bumiputeras. However, DAP is fighting for the ethnic quota system to be replaced by a policy of “merit and needs.” This cant be seen as anti-malay because the change would also benefit malays who are in need

It is important to note that point (i), (ii), and (iii) of DAP’s policies all touch on Article 153 of the Federal Constitution which is about the special position of malays and the natives of Sabah & Sarawak.

It wouldn’t be wrong to say that some of the things DAP truly fights for is unconstitutional.

Based on its objectives, policies, and declarations, DAP doesn’t come across as anti-islam. There is nothing stated about removing Islam as the religion of the federation or anything to that extent

However, as to whether DAP is anti-malays, it boils down to a matter of perspective. If you are in one accord with the likes of Perkasa, and ISMA, you would likely view DAP as anti-malays

Preaching To The Choir

I could not agree more with Member of Parliament (MP) for Teluk Intan, Mah Siew Keong when he said that the future of Malaysian politics is in multi-racial parties instead of single race entities

However, he seems to be preaching to the choir. What he should be doing, is addressing this to his partners in Barisan Nasional (BN). After all, UMNO, MCA and MIC are race based political parties

After 56 years (approaching 57 years of independence), one has to wonder if race based political parties propels the country forward or contributes to the significant division between the many races in Malaysia

Political parties like DAP, PKR, and Gerakan are multi-racial parties which best represent the new generation of Malaysians who see themselves as Malaysians before as Malays, Chinese, Indians, or others. 

In the past, Dato Seri Onn bin Ja’afar called for UMNO party membership to be opened to non-malays and for the party to be renamed the United Malayans National Organisation.

However, the idea was shot down by many. He then left UMNO to form the Independence of Malaya Party, and subsequently, Parti Negara

Unfortunately both parties failed to meet it’s potential due to the lack of support by the Malaysians then. But all that happened about 50 years ago! Shouldn’t things have changed for the better?

Aren’t Malaysians generally mature enough to accept the fact that we are all in this together? Regardless of how some of our ancestors came to Malaya, we’re all Malaysians now

We all contribute to the economic well-being of the country by way of spending, investing, paying tax, etc. The time is right to rid ourselves of race-based political parties

Mah needs to have a serious chat with his political buddies in his capacity as president of Gerakan. After all, everyone knows the correct answer to the problem. Being willing to do the right thing and potentially suffering for it is a different story

Multi-racial parties are truly the way forward!

*Also read it at The Malaysian Insider, The Malay Mail Online, and The Malaysian Times

The True And Fair View

Ahmad Maslan (Chief of Communication for UMNO Malaysia) regarding the candidates for the upcoming Teluk Intan by-elections, said that Mah Siew Keong would beat Dyana Sofya 5-0. Ahmad Maslan (henceforth AM) brought up 5 points as to why Mah (BN’s candidate) is the better choice

Firstly AM compared them in terms of education. As per Bernama, Mah has “a Bachelor of Science from the London School of Economic and Master’s degree from City University London, as well as a law degree from University of East London.” It is also a fact that Dyana only has a diploma in law from UiTM

Clearly such a comparison would be in immense favour of Mah. However, it is important to note that Dyana is merely 27 years old while Mah is 52 (almost twice her age). Dyana should not be looked down upon simply because she has a meagre diploma compared to Mah’s four bachelor degrees

By the time Dyana is 52, she may even have a better qualification than Mah. Education is not a fair playing ground considering the vast difference in their age

AM’s second and third point was regarding experience. He said that Mah was the Ahli Dewan Undangan Negeri (ADUN) for Pasir Bedamar as well as a two-term Member of Parliament for Teluk Intan.

AM conveniently forgot to mention that Mah lost twice at Teluk Intan, while Dyana is yet to lose. Primarily because she has never contested prior to Teluk Intan.

Yet again, this is not a very fair comparison as Dyana has only been in DAP for around 3 years and this is her debut whereas Mah is a political veteran and has had his fair shares of victories and defeats

One cannot say Mah is a better candidate simply because he has experience. Everyone needs to start somewhere! In due time, Dyana may be a better representative of the people. Only time will tell such things

AM forgot the crucial age factor when he mentioned that Mah was once “ketua Gerakan Teluk Intan, pimpinan gerakan Perak, setiausaha agung parti, ketua pemuda dan sekarang presiden parti. Dyana ahli biasa DAP.” Was Mah all that at the age of 27? Nope

As to position, Dyana is Lim Kit Siang’s political secretary. You know who else held a similar position? Teressa Kok. She’s the MP who won Seputeh with a 51,552 vote majority in the 13th General Election.

Undeniably it doesnt mean the same would happen to Dyana’s political career, but it does make the mind wonder if Lim Kit Siang has a knack for identifying politicians with a bright career ahead of them

The fourth point is about Mah being backed by “menteri besar, perdana menteri, menteri, agensi kerajaan pusat dan negeri.” How true is that? Mah failed to bring revolutionary changes to Teluk Intan despite being the MP there for two terms

Was it because he wasn’t adequately backed then? What has changed? Are things different now that Mah is president of Gerakan?

While it is true that BN makes up the federal government, forms the state government in Perak, and thus would logically pull strings to help those on their side, Dyana has something Mah doesn’t. B-R-A-V-E-R-Y. Dyana was brave enough to contest in a Chinese majority seat, whereas all this while, Mah has been contesting in Chinese majority seats

Although the odds are stacked against Dyana, I believe she would do her best to bring positive changes if she wins Teluk Intan. Mainly because she has a point to prove and a lot of critics to put to shame.

Point 5 seems like the killer as it would seem that Mah has the home ground advantage while Dyana is viewed as an “outsider.” However, in the past, M Manogaran and the late Seah Leong Peng both defeated Mah at Teluk Intan. Perhaps it is time to face the reality that being born at a place doesn’t mean one a definite winner and/or a better wakil rakyat 

Furthermore, Lim Kit Siang in his blog post rebutted this point by saying, “NOT being local did not prevent two Perak born former MCA presidents – Dr. Ling Liong Sik and Ong Ka Ting – from serving as MPs in Johor for most of their political lives.”

Regardless of the outcome, this will go down in history as one of the most bizarre by-elections thanks to the candidates, their parties, as well as all the dirty politics and cheap promises made

*You can always read this at The Malaysian Insider