Malaysian Opposition Parties in a Premiership Scramble

Malaysian Opposition Parties in a Premiership Scramble

by TK

Image result for Mahathir and Kit Siang

Prime Minister (To  be Elected) Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohammad and Deputy Lim Kit Siang!–A Case of counting chickens before they are hatched

It is disheartening to note that the opposition parties are now fighting who among their respective leaders would become the Prime Minister (PM) should they win the coming general election.

Rightly or wrongly, the position of the PM has become the most important “institution” in the country today. Years of power consolidation and concentration has made this position very invincible and powerful. Hence, the endless tussle for it, even though winning the election is by no means certain yet.

Image result for  Hadi Awang as Prime MinisterThe sickly PAS leader Hadi Awang wants to make history : Becoming First Mullah Prime Minister of Malaysia.

I think it is time for the opposition coalition to look at the position of the PM differently.

Image result for Rosmah Mansor as Power

 Hanuman  (Warrior-Protector) of PM Najib Razak

Right now the PM is all powerful because all the “actors” as provided for in our constitution have not played their rightful role.Instead of fighting for the post, the opposition coalition should be looking at the powers and jurisdiction of the PM within the confines of the constitution.

In other words, they shouldn’t be just looking at the powers of the PM as they exist today. They should “reconstruct” the PM the way they want the person to be. Please let me elaborate.

First, the opposition coalition must look at  important positions as provided for in the constitution other than that of the PM. Second, they should share these important positions fairly among the coalition partners to ensure checks and balance.

If important positions are fairly distributed among coalition partners, it will automatically circumscribe the powers of the PM.

The idea is really to prevent abuse or the arbitrary exercise of power. To begin with, all MPs from each coalition partner must play their respective roles jealously and dutifully. The executive branch headed by the PM has become too powerful because the legislature has more or less abdicated its power. An assertive legislature would send different signals to the executive branch.

Similarly, we can look at other important positions to ensure check and balance. For example, if the PM is from PPBM, the finance and home affairs ministers should be from other coalition partners. The same goes for the speaker of the Dewan Rakyat.

I believe it is easier to agree on the post of PM if the coalition partners first work out other important positions in the government. The overarching principle is to ensure power sharing and fair play.

Don’t fight over the post of PM; fight for a PM who can only exercise power within the confines of the constitution.

T K Chua is an FMT reader.

4 thoughts on “Malaysian Opposition Parties in a Premiership Scramble

  1. The last election saw UMNO-BN lose its two-thirds majority in Parliament, along with the popular vote, although a gerrymandered system in which rural Malay votes held more sway than more mixed urban areas kept UMNO-BN and Najib in power. The nearly four years since have seen scandal after scandal; relentless crackdowns, the fracturing of the opposition, and a massive, international money laundering scheme that implicates even Najib himself.

    The question in this election is: Will disdain for Najib outweigh distrust of the opposition? Observing from a distance, I see it is unlikely, but not impossible, that this election will see the world’s longest ruling party finally lose power. I see the opposition have no operational vision and no idea what they want to do, They say they want to stop corruption, but what’s their game plan? There’s none, nada, zip. Their focus is to criticize UMNO-BN and Najib for being corrupt and call for “change.” What change? Show the beef!

    I see what UMNO-BN is banking on is that things return to a default, and that their rigging of the electoral systems makes defeat impossible. They are redistricting seats in certain areas to dilute the opposition’s power and give even more say to their rural, Malay base. Moreover, the promised electoral reforms have not come. Malaysia still lacks automatic voter registration, nor is there any form of absentee or distance voting. This means that migrants from East Malaysia who reside in West Malaysia have to fly home on election day if they want to vote. Youth are also facing challenges in registering. Both of these groups’ preferences lean toward the opposition, meaning if these barriers reduce their turnout in any way, it will only make it harder for the opposition to boot UMNO-BN from power.

    Even if the opposition somehow overcomes all this and wins, I anticipate a short-lived government. After so many years in power, UMNO-BN has a incredibly strong political machine, with civil servants in control across the country’s vast bureaucracy. That machine will likely stand in the way of the new, incoming coalition’s ability to govern. And given the fact that the opposition can’t agree much on policy, I see the recipe for a short-lived government.

    Nevertheless, deep down I hope the opposition would win. The power change is symbolic. Malaysia has never seen even one democratic power transition. A change in government could create a mental shift in how Malaysians think about politics, that government isn’t supreme, that it can be changed and it will be changed. This is the kind of idea that has to be implemented in Malaysian people’s hearts and minds. Moreover, it may lead to, in the future, the formation of an ideological opposition that can present concrete policy proposals. Ideological and issue-focused political campaigns are something that Malaysia has never experienced. UMNO-BN’s policies have always been focused on patronage politics and the distribution of state money through affirmative action schemes that support its rural Malay base, with a significant sum siphoned off, of course, by the corrupt leaders.

    The coming election is the test of the waters if Malaysia is ready to become a real democracy. If UMNO-BN wins again, it might be a very long time before any chance of reform or change would come to Malaysia. If even a scandal as big as 1MDB couldn’t depose UMNO-BN, it’s hard to imagine what, eventually, will.

  2. The Opposition should project Anwar as the PM to-be even before they win power at the next GE. He is a strategic thinker, not to mention his charisma and ability. He has broad support both in the Malay and non-Malay heartlands. His nearest match is Mahathir. The rest just ride on any one bandwagon not knowing where it is heading.

    Mahathir should accept this reality. He should endorse Anwar and refrain from denting Opposition support base by suggesting someone else to replace him. If he wants, he can canvass for his son, Mukhriz, to be a Minister in the next cabinet should Opposition win.

    Some things are inviolable in the Malay psyche. The PM has to be a Malay and so should the Defence Minister – at least for the near future An East Malaysian should be made DPM and he should take precedence over anyone else, should it be decided to have 2 DPMs. A non-Malay could be the Finance Minister. There can be a fair distribution of other ministerial posts. These could appease the Malays and the non-Malays both in West and East Malaysia.

    Mahathir is still valuable. He stomping the Malay ground along with Harapan leaders, can swing a sizable block of Malay votes to the Opposition. If PAS choose to remain in the Opposition pact, well and good. Deal with them fairly. If not, let them partner UMNO if they wish so. It will be good for PAS if they can fight on their own (without aligning with UMNO) as they can, possibly be the king-makers, should BN or the Opposition lack the numbers to form the government on their own.

    The above could be a winning framework to win power. Articulate this to the electorate with one voice nearer the next GE as well as during campaign period. If everything is played out according to plan, I see little chance of Opposition not winning power.

  3. From the time he was Minister of Education he had a chance. Just go into history and you will find out what he did. The old adage that everyone deserves a second chance has become obsolete in this Internet Age. We need leaders who have the capacity and confidence to nurture the leaders for the next generation.
    The Oak Tree does not allow even weak reeds to grow in its shade. And like all PLCs nations, too, need good Audit Committees to help them make the seven fat years to service the seven lean years.

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