Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Freedom of expression within political parties and coalitions...

Must all member parties of the BN or the Pakatan Rakyat have the same opinions, views and positions about everything?

Must all members, MPs or ADUNs of a particular political party have the same opinion, views and position about everything under the sun?

In the past, when the BN was of the position that Detention Without Trial and the ISA, etc were OK - I remember that at one time Gerakan stood firm and took a differing position - i.e. for the abolition of the ISA and other laws that allow Detention Without Trial. This was great........but with time things seem to have changed and Gerakan too just became another obedient 'lamb' and followed the rest of BN.

But after GE2008, there seems to be changes that have been happeing in the various BN component parties - an assertion of their differences, and brave expression of different views and positions on various matters.

For example on the arrest and detention of Uthayakumar and the 4 others under ISA, I believe that to date the GERAKAN, the MIC and the MCA have openly called for the immediate release of the HINDRAF 5 from ISA detention.

GERAKAN seem to be be going back to become the "old GERAKAN"- reclaiming its independent thinking and expressing it openly.

Post GE2008, after the major losses suffered by the BN, BN component parties seem to be re-evaluating matters, and it is not unforseeable that even the BN - that mighty BN may be dis-integrating. One indication was that during the announcement by Abdullah Ahmad Badawi that BN was victorious after the GE2008 results - missing were the leadership/reps from the component parties of the BN. It seemed to be just UMNO there.

There is nothing permanent of the BN and its member parties - and, it is also not uncommon that some parties may chose to just be no more a member of the BN, or even any other coalition.

Maybe, some parties may see that being alone for a while may also be good for the party revival not only with regard to membership BUT more importantly its own party identity and positions.

The question of Gerakan leaving the Barisan Nasional is “open for discussion” but the party will not be “blinded by emotions” over the issue, acting president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon said.

“Other coalition parties have also discussed it. We are not a ‘yes man’ party but we will not be blinded by emotions. We will have an objective analysis of such discussions from time to time.

“Gerakan won’t blindly commit to Barisan, but since Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his deputy Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak have shown sincerity in bringing change we will perform our role in accordance with our principles,” he said.

“Barisan is a coalition that represents people from different political and cultural backgrounds, so there are bound to be differences. Even Pakatan Rakyat is the same.” - Star, 20/8/2008 - Koh: Gerakan not blindly loyal

Party grassroot members have found their voices at last (or maybe the leaders are finally listening to the grassroots). Fear will no longer hold them captive, and there are calls for internal political party reforms, and even reforms in the relationship between the various BN component parties within the BN itself.

We saw that MCA, MIC and even GERAKAN leaders are learning how not to obediently 'kow tow' or surrender their independence and freedoms this time around. Good first step was the refusal to accept the goodies offered by the PM in the form of them Ministerial positions.

Who is in the Cabinet is ultimately decided by the PM? - and hence this refusal to accept cabinet positions will help preserve their independence when they sit in for their BN meetings as the head honchos of their respective political parties.

Being in the Cabinet can, I believe, compromise their frankness and independence as party reps, for there will always in their minds be that concern about being removed from Cabinet and/or demoted.

Well, now, it seems that things may be changing within the BN - and they seem to have adopted consensus decision making system (not a very practical manner, better to have a 2/3rd or 4/5th majority decision making process.) - and the BN seems to be doing more consulting and more meetings now. Will this mean, that there will be an end of the UMNO dominance, or what some say the 'UMNO dictatorship" of the BN. [Let us be wary also that these may be all 'lies' to woo the voters of Permatang Pauh]

“What is important is that we try to reach a consensus. In the last five months, top Barisan leaders have held more meetings than in the last three years,” he said, adding that response from the Chinese community has been more positive in the Permatang Pauh by-election compared with the March 8 general election.- Star, 20/8/2008 - Koh: Gerakan not blindly loyal

For that, we shall all wait and see - but then UMNO itself is not so interested to practice real democracy within itself - that high quota requirement to even stand as a candidate is certainly not true democracy. There has also been calls within UMNO that all the members be given the right to vote for the leaders at the highest level - which means removing the power of choice that is now vested in Divisional reps only. (It is easier to 'bribe' a smaller number of Divisional reps compared to the all the million over members....)

We need to understand and appreciate the problems that BN has been facing, and is facing today - so that this new coalition of parties called the Pakatan Rakyat will not also end up breaking-up in the near future because of similar reasons. There is thus a need to discuss matters NOW - not only after the seizing of power.

Some previously vocal persons, who have now been elected MPs or ADUNs (or appointed Local Councillors) have now stopped expressing themselves...and/or championing causes and issues. It is so sad.

I say it is right for individuals within a party to have and express a different personal opinion from that of the party they belong to. Of course, it must always be made clear that 'despite the fact that they do have a different opinion, they will still adhere the the current party position'. Staying silent, and not expressing your difference is unacceptable. Anwar's silience then about the 1987 Operation Lallang, the 1988 Judicial Crisis, ... is and was unacceptable

But alas post-1998, Anwar has presumably repented his old ways and is a new man today - and that is what many, including me, would like to believe.

Thus, I say that if you are a member of one of the Pakatan Rakyat, it is perfectly alright and very good if you do also come out and express your 'personal' differences in opinion, always stressing, of course, that it is just your 'personal' opinion.

So, how many of you Pakatan MPs, Pakatan ADUNs, and Pakatan appointed Local Councillors out there is all out for Local Council elections now - as soon as possible, and is against this current appointment.

SAPP has lost confidence in the current PM and government - and is right and proper for them to express this view....and they should not be sanctioned for expressing this position. It is a minority position ... or is it really. After all, some parties may still be fearful...or even still slave of the old BN culture...

After all this PM has the position that BN members are not allowed to even support good suggestions of the Oppositions - and are required to fully support all BN positions. And MPs and others who have been different were sanctioned and disciplines - Devamany, etc... [Devamany now plays it very safe waiting for Big Boss Samy to come out first, and then only repeat the same position...]

Is the Pakatan Rakyat different? Would Pakatan member parties be allowed to hold different party positions BUT one Pakatan Rakyat position?

Would members of the Pakatan Rakyat member parties be permitted to hold different views, and express them BUT have only one party position? [Of course, there may be certain very important matters where members may not have the right to express publicly a different position - or should there even be such a limitation or restriction??? - that is for the Pakatan Rakyat members to decide]

Today, when it comes to the Pakatan Rakyat - there is confusion as to what exactly is the Pakatan Rakyat position.

Are the utterance of Lim Kit Siang or Anwar or Hadi the Pakatan Rakyat position?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Playing the role of devil's advocate, would you care to comment about the more tricky position of Zulkifli Nordin?