Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Malaysia: Dictatorship or real Democracy?

Well, the people do elect their Members of Parliament(MPs) and the State Legislative Assemblypersons (ADUNs), but does that make Malaysia a democracy? The only real choice that the people have is in deciding who governs at the Federal level and the State level once every 4-5 years, and that seems to be all the 'democracy' that we have in Malaysia.

MPs and ADUNs - do they then represent the people who elected them in making known their decisions and choices in Parliament and/or the State Legislative Assembly? Not really...

Let me explain...

* When they have to vote in Parliament/State Legislative Assembly, MPs (and/or ADUNs) generally are 'forced' to vote as what their party wants. They do not have a choice - Wrong, they choose not to express their own right to vote choosing rather to vote as they have been told to by the 'whips'...[We know that BN MPs are not allowed to support motions/positions of the Opposition - and when they do act independently according to their conscience, they are chastised...penalized by their  political parties -
I believe that all politicians, political parties and political coalitions (and others including the civil society) must listen and accept good suggestions and ideas irrespective of who it is coming from. That is mature politics.
In 2006, the UMNO-led BN came out with a public stand that all their MPs must fully support all that is BN, and reject (and not support) anything that is coming from the other side. Remember, that Datuk Shahrir Abdul Samad who gave us a good example when he supported a motion by the Opposition leader because it was right.

KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Shahrir Abdul Samad (pic above) dropped a bombshell in Parliament yesterday by resigning as Backbenchers Club (BBC) chairman.

He had earlier walked out of Dewan Rakyat disappointed that his colleagues had distanced themselves from a DAP motion related to alleged interference by an MP in the work of the Malacca Customs Department.

The motion called for a newspaper report containing the allegation that the unnamed MP had asked the department to be lenient with those caught importing sawn timber from Indonesia to be referred to the Parliament Rights and Privileges Committee.

Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang had proposed the motion, which was debated for 20 minutes.

Voicing support for the motion, Shahrir, who is Johor Baru MP, said the matter should be investigated by the committee to clear the air as “integrity should begin in Parliament.” - Why call Najib 'copy cat' when he adopts good ideas - Reject “third-class mentality”. Support the good reject the bad...
Well, is Pakatan Rakyat any different?  I do not think so...

MPs/ADUNs chose to relinquish their freedom of expression, freedom of choice - and do vote not according to what their conscience tells them...but according to what their party tells them...and this really must change...for this is not democracy - but a form of dictatorship by Najib in Parliament ...by Khalid Ibrahim(PR) [or Anwar with the other PR supreme leaders]in the Selangor State Legislative Assembly as an example

While members of the Cabinet and State Excos are expected to adhere to and support the decisions of the PM (or the Cabinet) or the MB (or the State Exco), the same does not apply to other ADUNs and MPs not in the Executive. 

Even then, members of the Cabinet and State Excos can express their personal opinions....and/or resign from the Cabinet/Exco when they cannot agree with the PM and the MB. The Cabinet/Exco are chosen by the PM/MB not the people - not the party, and they are thus Najib's Cabinet and/or the MB's Exco after all.
That is why in Malaysia no one really bothers to lobby...influence with argument individual MPs/ADUNs - and tend to focus their attention on the 'Supreme Leaders' of the different parties. 

That is why many MPs/ADUNs may not even know what they are voting for and why they voted in such a manner. They vote as they have been told.....period. Is this democracy...or just another form of dictatorship?

At present voting is also usually done by loudness of voices....not even by counting. We do not know how many MPs/ADUNs voted for a motion...how many voted against...and how many abstained? In fact, most likely the voting on a item would most probably be Number of BN MPs for, No. of Pakatan MPs against, No. of Pro-BN Independent MPs for, Number of pro-PR MPs against...and maybe some Independent MPs voting this way or that or abstaining even.

There must be changes if we truly want to be a democracy - and MPs/ADUNs must vote in accordance with their conscience. The aspirations/views of their constituents must be taken into account - but then have we heard of any MP/ADUN who did in fact have a consultation with their constituents (or even their party members at branch/division levels) before they vote for or against a motion or a Bill? How many MPs/ADUNs even inform their constituents about the things that they have to vote for....and/or the reasons why they voted "Yes" or "No" or just abstained - something so easily done today through personal blogs, etc 

Really, votes need to be counted. Maybe, also good if there is 'secret ballot' when it comes to voting in Parliament and State Legislative Assemblies...[Real live telecast of Parliamentary sessions - Secret electronic voting need be introduced.]

Real live telecasts of Parliamentary proceedings would also help encourage a change in MP/ADUN behaviour in the Houses as then the voters will know whether their representative is participating or not.... [There are already live feed in Parliament, which could be seen by anyone in the lobby, canteen, etc - and what we need is for this feed to be broadcasted to the homes of Malaysians - there is no need for commentators, interviews, etc...The 'live telecast' we have for a short while now is a joke as we are forced to watch most of the time comments and interviews not the actual proceedings]

Why do MPs/ADUNs behave like this? Because they fear that if they do not follow the wishes of their 'dictators', then they may not get a chance to stand come next elections.

Sadly, the same seem to be happening at Local Councils - the fear being that if you voice your own opinion different from the position of the 'party dictators' you just do not get appointed for another term. Civil society councilors in small numbers in the PR State Councils also find that they cannot never win an argument against the 'party dictators'  because all party appointed councilors will just vote as per dictated by the whip.
Anwar, in a session at the Bar Council got blasted about his silence(and lack of protest) when the ISA was repeatedly used on different groups of people when he was in government...and his response was that he did indeed protest to Mahathir. Can we believe this? On the other hand, Nazri Aziz, a sitting Minister stands out as being different - he has come out in opposition to the death penalty twice now...stating also that it was his personal view, not the position of the government...[see earlier post:- Nazri reiterates call for abolition of death penalty...]. Maybe more MPs and ADUNs must emulate  Nazri Aziz...

So, was it only Mahathir who was the 'dictator'? Or are we in Malaysia really all still living under a kind of 'dictatorship' - not a true democracy? 
It is so easy to just blame the 'big bosses' - but do you, the MPs/ADUNs even promote and practice democracy at the level of your own constituencies? You have the capacity to be different - to be democratic, but you have chosen to relinquish your own god-given freedoms to the detriment of real democracy. You choose silence and 'loyalty' possibly just because you are only interested in securing your future as MPs/ADUNs, is that the case? I wonder also why some persons even chose to become MPs/ADUNs - and then sit by silently doing nothing to bring about real democracy, where there is openness,  transparency and accountability.

1 comment:

José M. López Sierra said...

Not true that there are 3 political status options for Puerto Rico

The United States (US) government has made Puerto Ricans believe that there are 3 political status options for Puerto Rico. That is a lie. The purpose for that is to have Puerto Ricans fight amongst themselves. The plan has been a huge success! Puerto Rico has been a colony of the United States for 116 years, and judging by the 80% voter turnout in the colonial elections, the majority of us has not realized that we have been lied to.

In reality, there is only one option. The United Nations (UN) in 1960 determined that colonialism is a crime against humanity. Therefore, the only thing that Puerto Rico can do is to become her own nation. That means that the US must give Puerto Rico the sovereignty that the US illegally took away from her by virtue of the July 25, 1898 military invasion.

Thus far, the US government has ignored the 33 UN resolutions asking it to immediately decolonize Puerto Rico. Instead, it has tried to hide these petitions, and at the same time appear to believe in democracy by pushing for plebiscites so that Puerto Ricans could decide between colonialism, being a US state, or independence (decolonization as required by the UN).

The problem with the US pushed plebiscites are that they:

1. don’t comply with international law that prohibits a nation to have a colony.
2. don’t comply with international law that requires the empire to give the sovereignty it illegally took away to its colony.
3. don’t comply with international law that requires that to have free elections, that country must be free first.
4. have 2 options that are not permitted by international law- continuing being a colony and becoming a state of the country that has the colony. For the option of becoming a state of the country that has the colony to be considered, the colony must first become her own nation (decolonized).

This is why we have to peacefully protest 3 times a year until the US government complies with the UN resolutions for Puerto Rico decolonization.

José M López Sierra