It’s the end-of-the-year holiday-cum-Christmas season again — a time when we are full of hope that the troubles of the year will be left behind and we can look forward to something better in the year ahead. So, we celebrate, through a holiday or staycation while Christians celebrate the birth of The Child who gives us hope always.
My one hope through this Christmas season is that Malaysian politicians will disentangle themselves from the current self-serving political culture of making deals in the name of political expediency and sidestepping the constitution in doing so, which was how former premier Muhyiddin Yassin and incumbent prime minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob operate. Make deals, claim a majority but don’t prove it, and remain in government at taxpayers’ expense irrespective of whether it is constitutional or not.
Hopefully, after the Malacca state elections, both would have realised that their claims of a majority remain unproven and that the proper conduct of politicians claiming a majority is to first prove it by facing a no-confidence vote or an election. They would have seen the significance of it if they were aware of the norms and conventions of democracy and understood the words, spirit, and intent of the constitution and the will to set the example of upholding the constitution to the best of their abilities.
Sadly, negotiations and pacts take precedence over conforming to the constitution. The PN and Sabri governments have a long list of constitutionally questionable decisions — from the Sheraton moves to emergency to withdrawing emergency, suspending Parliament, withdrawing Umno support, Muhyiddin’s resignation, Sabri’s appointment and the signing of the MoU before the Sabri government proved its majority by facing a no-confidence vote.
Then, there are all those blunders Cabinet members made. The latest is the debate on price hikes in the Dewan Rakyat which has been moved for discussion in special chambers and not in open debate. An issue of such public significance should be debated by all the MPs not just some. Doesn’t the Speaker grasp the democratic principle that issues of public importance should be debated in public, not hidden in special chambers?
When Seputeh MP Teresa Kok asked for black and white guidelines on the liquor ban at the Dewan Rakyat yesterday, Federal Territories Minister Shahidan Kassim said that a consensus was reached among stakeholders and if an application for a liquor licence was rejected the applicant can appeal.
Without clear guidelines, on what grounds would the application be rejected or accepted?
If Shahidan were professional and grasped the concept of good governance he would have understood that it is better to spell out guidelines rather than leave it to civil servants to decide according to vague consensual agreements rather than black and white rules to accept or reject an application on a sensitive issue such as a liquor licence.
Such poorly thought-of practices have become the norm and the standard of governance we are now stuck with. If I kept highlighting it, it would get depressing!
But, this is the Christmas season! A season to celebrate the reason to hope. So, this season I want to consider something more uplifting in politics — that by the next Christmas season the last two years will be behind us and left better forgotten!
The only way forward is now a reset. That reset will come after the next general elections which we hope will be held sooner rather than later. The sooner we hold it the sooner we herald a better Malaysia.
That’s my one hope for Malaysia this Christmas! A better Malaysia! I believe it will happen!