An Opportunity of Reinstating the Rakyat’s Mandate

When the Sheraton Move was initiated by irresponsible Members of Parliament that saw the total and unashamed betrayal of the people that voted for them, many felt despair and anger. Rightfully so. When I went to vote in Skudai with my wife, travelling 400 km simply because we did not want to change our address fearing that it might “disappear”somehow, I saw lines and lines of elderly people like me waiting to vote. We were made to stand in the shade of a metal roofed open assembly hall. It was still hot and I thought that standing twenty minutes would not be an issue. But the wait became long and I suggested to several non-Malay gentlemen of my age to lift the benches from the canteen and place them in our line for us all to sit. The Election Commission officers obviously have no intelligence to do such a simple, courteous and humane thing. When the elderly gentlemen hesitated and wondered if we would get in trouble with the EC, I told them”takut apa, mereka yang tak cerdik, kita sudah tua, siapa nak berdiri lama-lama ni!”So we rebelled and put out three benches while the police officers and EC people looked on unsure of what to do. That was the spirit that ushered in the new Malaysia. Now, if we had known that there would be several MPs who was going to hand back the country to the corrupt politicians, we would probably never have bothered to come. Better to drink teh tarik and sip ice kacang. That would be more meaningful than electing a bunch of selfish Wakil Rakyat who do not even understand the meaning of wakil and rakyat.

Many were hoping that the rakyat’s mandate can be reinstated when a vote of no confidence was supposed to be tabled but we were met with a “silent and one agenda parliament”, the first of its kind. So the rakyat waited painstakingly for the seating of the parliament where voices could be heard and not muted like a zoom meeting. But then surprise-surprise a new Speaker was elected under the most shameful and barbaric procedure in the history of the honorable house. As explained by an eminent lawyer, the sitting speaker was removed with no reason, the nominated candidate speaker was ushered in without the two week notice of providing further names, and the once respected civil society activist sat down as if he owned the place without so much as a conscience or a moral pause. I am sure many was sick to the stomach to see this final act of mockery of parliamentary democracy. But of course, there was no protest from academics, from public institutions, religious institutions or any other powerful institutions at this undemocratic events of the house. After that the rakyat saw the massive expenses of a bloating cabinet and the awards of GLC positions to MPs as rewards for their support. At a time when the rakyat lost jobs, can’t pay rents and loans, the civil servants got Raya bonuses and no pay cuts while working/resting at home during the MCO. My wife and I used our few hundred ringgit of bonuses to give to my cleaning girl whose husband was not paid for three months.

Now, it seems that the rakyat has a new hope. Anwar has come forward with the rakyat’s 91 MPs and said that he now has the commanding majority with a government of Malay majority with a balanced mixed of Malaysians. He wanted to see the YDP Agong but the rakyat was disappointed that the YDP Agong could not see him because of medical concerns. Two weeks on, the rakyat held its breadth and…nothing happens. Anwar refuses to disclose the names of the MPs and merely submitted the declaration of the political leaders. Such is the mistrust of Malaysians to the police and MACC that even the opposition leader feared some coercive tactics to his parliamentarian supports. The proof of this fear was clear when the police summoned Anwar and asked him to release the names of the MPs, which Anwar politely refused. As an ordinary rakyat, even I was puzzled by the action of the police in wanting to know names and how this information is relevant for the safety of the rakyat is beyond my professorial understanding.

Now, there are many in the civil society who are asking legitimate questions of which I would like to respond with my own understanding and concerns. Firstly, there is the fear that this move by Anwar would trigger an election. Secondly, the move by Anwar requires working with UMNO, the enemy of most law abiding Malaysians.

As to the first issue, Muhyiddin is not likely to call an election as his house is in a complete shambles with BN and UMNO on the war path. PPBM and the Sheraton Movers would be wiped out completely by a vengeful rakyat or they would be weakened by a three cornered fight with UMNO. And even if there was an election…my reaction is..so what…bring it on-lah!. But many fear the Covid-19. To me, electing a responsible government and the Covid 19 are two different things. If we have an intelligent and responsible Election Commission, election in a pandemic is no big issue. Firstly, why do we need crowds of campaigning when we have electronic devices to send our messages? The only campaigning that should be allowed is in the depths of the forest of the Veveonah-like villages that have no internet capability. In towns, cities and suburbia, no need campaigning-lah. Next, have more polling stations and extend the polling time to 8 pm with specific times for people to go. For instance, is it too difficult to tell me and my wife to poll between 6 pm to 8 pm? Don’t worry about Maghrib prayers, I will perform them sitting on a chair. And then, why require people to travel interstate if their names are not at where they live? Like the thousands of Sabahan who could not return, they were robbed of their national right and responsibility simply because the EC still lives in the pre-internet era of 1960s.

Next concern is the issue of working with UMNO. Many feels that this is an immoral act. I am surprised. What? Immoral? Where have you lived all this while? Were you not there when the rakyat voted the”immoral”Mahathir not just as an MP but as the PM for the second time? I am sure that Anwar will not work with those who have court cases going on and soon to come. There is enough MPs from GPS, Warisan and a few from Pejuang minus the father and son tag team to form a strong majority. Anwar would probably need 10 or so MPs from UMNO who were not in favour of Najib and Zahid whilst they were in government. So…what’s the problem? Anyway, it is good that DAP now is seen to work with UMNO members. It’s about time. UMNO as a political idea is a noble construct like MCA and MIC. It is the leadership that has soiled the idealism and morality, not the members. Malays are good people generally but they fear too much their leaders because their leaders like to act like the Raja in the Malay Hikayat. That’s why-lah.

So…I think Anwar has a legitimate claim and a legitimate strategy. Let us all follow this important drama to its conclusion. Will Anwar become PM or will he be in jail for sodomy 3? This is a standing joke with Malaysia in the eyes of the world! Or will Zahid become Deputy PM in Muhyiddin’s cabinet? Or perhaps Najib’s charges are be dropped like that of Musa Aman? Many Malaysians hope for a new government of racially balanced cabinet members with a responsibility to help the rakyat in dire needs. Tolong-lah. We need an economic package for the rakyat, not several useless and wasteful packages of cabinet posts and “Overseas Envoys”. If Anwar can assure us of that, let’s give him a chance as is his democratic right in a still legal Malaysia with a Keluhuran Perlembagaan, Kedaulatan Undang-Undang and the Wisdom and Conscience of the Raja-Raja as our bastion of credibility.

By : Prof Dr. Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi – SIN CHEW DAILY

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