Friday, January 26, 2007

Honourable MP hints of dismantling race-based parties

Malaysiakini - 26th January Race but not racist parties - the way forward
Any realistic effort to improve race relations must be carried out through the ruling party and existing political framework, argues outspoken Umno MP Zaid Ibrahim.

The existing political framework of the BN is one of a coalition of race based parties. The UMNO representing the malays, MCA- the chinese and MIC -the indians. Each party seek to represent their own ethnic community and to enure that the needs of that community are met. Often each community seek to ensure that their rights are protected and that they obtain fair allocation of national funds for the development of their respective community. For example, to the chinese community; Chinese Schools and government allocation to these schools are important. To the malays and indians; other priorities.

The problem with this formula, is that each political party seeks the good of their own community which may not be good for the nation as a whole. There are many cases in point. Also, each politcial party, in order to survive and continue their relevance, fight for the rights of their respective races and THIS has been the cause of declining race relations in Malaysia. After 50 years of Independence and supposedly the "right formula" or "winning formula" ;why is it then that race relations have deteriorated? Why are there still "sensitive issues" deemed seditious and which we cannot talk about? Why do we still use words like"tolerate", "Ketuanan melayu" (lordship of malays), or "bangsa pendatang"(immigrant race) ? Is this the kind of unity we have been "struggling" for over the last 50 years? If it is, we have succeeded and yes, MP Zaid Ibrahim is right in saying that the BN is the "winning formula."

Suppose we put sentimental notions behind and dream for a second that another political framework exists in Malaysia. One that seeks to level the playing field for all Malaysians and the allocation of funds is not based on the color of your skin or the ethnic group you belong to but the level of economic standing in our society. For a change we have one General Assembly for the ruling political party where real issues facing the nation is discussed. The rakyat is able to gauge the ability of this political party to govern the nation from this singular event which is meant for the consumption of all Malaysians. (as opposed to 3 General assemblies now held behind closed doors) What is there to hide unless there are shameful things said.

This way, Malaysians can close ranks and 5 decades of division can be safely put behind us as we respect each others ethnic differences and focus on what we can contribute to the table rather than what we can take from it.

Friday, January 12, 2007

50 years is a long time....

In a Parliamentary democracy which we inherited, there are clear divisions of government. The 3 main divisions intent on keeping law and order and to ensure that the law is respected irregardless of position in government are the Executive, the Judiciary and the House of lawmakers or Parliament.

In Malaysia, we have improvised the system by making the concept of separation of powers less and less clear. A single party system in government for the last 50 years and with almost half of those 50 years under the authoritarian leadership of Dr Mahathir have slowly but surely usurped the powers of the Parliament and Judiciary. Over the last 22 years, Dr Mahathir’s vision to achieve a developed nation status by 2020 have sought to remove whatever was in his way. Unfortunately whatever was in his way was often the system of checks and balance put in place to ensure accountability in government.

Today, we suffer its consequences. Leaders in government do as they please and a sense of anarchy and lack of rule of law exist. Dr Mahathir himself sees the indicipline and the problems which now exist but it was he who tore down the accountabilities that were in place. From the recent murder of a Mongolian woman with a hint of scandal linked to the ruling elite and to the involvement of the Executive’s family members in business and government including all the various accusations of corruption and election improprieies, money politics etc. exist solely because we have lost all forms of checks and balance necessary in government.

50 years is too long! In order for the rakyat to restore their rightful power there must be the opportunity for all opposition parties (BN included since they are technically “opposition” when Parliament dissolves) to prove their capabilities. As such opposition parties must be looked upon not just as a watchdog but “Government in waiting”.

I was in a taxi and the taximan said there can never be any change. BN will be in power forever and ever. I said Why? There is no where in the constitution that says so. Its just that we have never had the opportunity to think that way.