Answering the people’s call is the way to winning the next GE

By N H Chan

The call of the people is accountability which is the ultimate checks and balances of democracy

There is an excellent article by an astute young lady in the Sun, March 3, 2011:

Checks and balances imperative
By Yap Mun Ching

When former transport minister Chan Kong Choy was charged with … cheating amounting to RM1.9 billion … it was as though the winds of accountability sweeping across the Middle East had finally gusted over. …the former minister looks set to join his predecessor Dr Ling Liong Sik on a list of former cabinet ministers accused of less than hounourable activities while in office.

Viewing these developments against the backdrop of the events in the Middle East, several important lessons stand out. Firstly, it is never healthy to have leaders hold on to power for too long a period without proper checks and balances. It is not by coincidence that the heads of government facing the strongest opposition in the Middle East now are those who have hung on for decades by crushing all opposition. Tunisia’s deposed Ben Ali ruled for 23 years while Egypt’s Mubarak sat at the helm … for 29 years. Embattled Libyan leader Gaddafi is one of the world’s longest-serving leaders at 42 years, while … Yemen and Bahrain, the incumbents have been in power for 30 and 40 years respectively.

While Ling and Chan did not manage tenures of comparable length, both were members of a government that has ruled for 54 years … a two-thirds majority enjoyed by the ruling government in Parliament [until the 2008 general election] has resulted in a blurring of the separation of powers so important to maintaining the integrity of a democratic form of government. Without independent institutions, the ability of our system to hold leaders to account has been severely compromised.

What a superb piece of writing. She is so good at making an accurate assessment of the situation in the Middle East and about the aspirations of the people there for wanting accountability in government which is also a universal wish of all freedom loving peoples the world over. To paraphrase, the people’s wish is democracy not a dictatorship in any shape or form. It is only in a democracy could there be accountability of those who hold positions of power. It is only with a government of the people, by the people and for the people – for that is what a true democracy is – that the people’s representatives, who hold positions of power in order to govern, could be made accountable to the people who had elected them to office in government. The integrity of a democratic form of government relies on the system’s ability to hold leaders to account. And this can only be possible if our institutions of government – such as the judiciary, the civil and legal services, the police and the armed forces – are independent bodies, not minions who are always at the beck and call of an autocratic master.

In a democracy there is no such thing as the hijacking of an elected government and supplanting it with an appointed one that was made possible by the intervention of a third party in the form of a ruler or king. In the case of Perak, the sultan resorted to some vague imaginary power which some local legal experts have described as a “residual power” – as if a monarch had it before he became a powerless constitutional monarch, unless these experts are naive enough to think that there is such a thing as the divine right of kings. If you can still remember your English history you would know that King Charles the First lost his head and crown to the executioner’s axe for the belief that kings had divine powers. Indeed any form of external intervention, because such is not the choice of the people, destroys the very concept of democracy; such intervention defeats the effectiveness of accountability to the people.

But supplanting King Charles the First with another dictator – Oliver Cromwell – was just as bad because it became a case of replacing one despot for another despot. That was why Cromwell’s dictatorship died with him and upon his death England reverted back to autocratic rule by despotic kings. It was only after the last Stuart king – James II – had fled his realm that democracy started to take root in England and the monarchy became a toothless tiger as we understand it today; a constitutional monarchy without any power to interfere with the democratic process. The Perak takeover was, therefore, unconstitutional because no residual or any power was given to our rulers in our written Constitution. However, had there been such a power given to the monarchs in our written constitution then, in which case, Malaysia would not be called a democracy. It would have become a dictatorship. The English peoples took some 700 years to get rid of their tyrannical kings. It took them that long a time because they did not have a written constitution.

When a system of government had taken hold for too long a period, to use the words of Yap Mun Ching, ‘it resulted in the blurring of the separation of powers so important to maintaining the integrity of a democratic form of government. Without independent institutions, the ability of our system to hold leaders to account has been severely compromised’.

The antithesis of democracy is dictatorship. Any ruler or leader or a government, as in Malaysia, that had held on to power for too long a period – for power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely – would have inexorably transformed himself or itself into a tyrannical autocracy or regime with an animal farm syndrome; the adage is ‘all animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others’. These individuals think they are more equal than others because they think they are invincible and, therefore, not accountable to the people who had elected them to office. They can feel safe from accountability because the so-called independent institutions, like the judiciary, the civil service, the police and the armed forces have been compromised. These institutions would no longer be perceived by the people to be independent because they have been serving the same master for such a long period – in this country for 53 years. Only the unfortunate ones, like Ling and Chan – we should also not forget the late Eric Chia – were made the fall guys to assuage the disgruntled masses because they were expandable.

The difference between the Middle East and Malaysia is their totally diverse system of government from ours; the difference between them and us is the difference between totalitarianism and democracy

n the Middle East they have kings and presidents who actually rule and who had ruled their country before change was brought about through revolution by people’s power. The people there could not do otherwise because despots who have ruled for many years would not give up their power unless they are forced to do so. Hence, change could only be achieved through revolution. But, in this country we can always vote the ruling party out of office in an election.

But, if there is going to be a regime change, like what is happening in the Middle East, things could well be different as the change that was brought about by the power of the people would enable the people to demand accountability from their leaders. In this country we too can achieve change, though not by revolution as we have seen it happening in the Middle East, but by the power of the vote in a general election. This is how Yap Mun Ching puts it in her own inimitable but subtle style:

Protesters in the Middle East, while focusing their anger on a despised figurehead, also demanded the removal of the majority of members of their besieged governments. The prosecution of former cabinet ministers are welcome, but these actions cannot be considered sufficient to close the file on corrupt leaders. Active investigations must be undertaken against other leaders, former and current, to ensure accountability and to deter others from abusing their positions of power.

Important as it is to remove unwanted leaders, these actions must be taken with a view to restoring justice and reparation. Too often in the past, corrupt dictators have evaded punishment by escaping abroad and living the rest of their lives in luxury with their ill-gotten gains.

In my article The People’s call for Change I wrote:

One should be in politics to serve the people, not to get rich. That is why democracy requires the representatives of the people to be accountable to the people. Look at Mr Lim Kit Siang, he has been in politics for as long as I can remember and his son is currently the Chief Minister of Penang. Another was the late Dr Lim Chong Eu. The Perakians and the Penangites know that they are not rich. It is a good thing if every member of the Cabinet and every member of the Exco are investigated as to their financial status and assets before they can assume office. And when they leave office they are to be investigated again. They are to be accountable if they are found to be richer than what they could have earned while in office when they leave.

Restoring public confidence in our institutions

Miss Yap concluded her gem of an article with this suggestion:

Therefore, when it comes to the prosecution of allegedly corrupt leaders, investigators would do well to remember that other than justice, the public would also look to see stolen money restored. RM1.9 billion may not be a large sum in the [scale] of the swindling that has been exposed in the Middle East, but it is nonetheless a sum that would go a long way to restoring public confidence in our institutions.

And I am sure all of us will agree with her unless you are one of those sycophants currying the favour of dishonest politicians.

How to answer the call for change

Now, I trust you will realize that we Malaysians are in dire straits. Don’t you think it is time for us to move on to a better Malaysia. Like the peoples of the Middle East we can use the power of the people to change from tyranny to a true democracy. Use the power of your vote to unseat the oppressors. We have been under their yoke for 53 long years. Enough is enough. Use facebook and twitter. Use your email and if every reader of this article emails it to his friends we will be able to persuade a whole generation of young people to vote out the BN and replace them with a new government. It doesn’t matter that the new is inexperienced but at least we have a government of the people, by the people and for the people. It took the English peoples 700 years to get rid of their tyrannical kings. The American peoples to what they have become today in 250 years. I don’t think we will take that long because we are resilient and we have the benefit of hindsight. And above all we have our young people whose young minds will be able to meet the challenges ahead.

But before you vote for the opposition, I think, you should demand that they should promise to repeal all oppressive laws if ever they do come to power. We do not need the Sedition Act, or any emergency law like the ISA or any legislation that would suppress freedom of speech and our fundamental liberties. Above all, demand that they will enforce accountability to all our leaders, past and current.

If you are 21 and above, register yourself as a voter now and when election time comes do your duty and exercise your right to vote out the BN for a better Malaysia without oppressive laws and accountability from all those who hold or have held positions of power or trust on behalf of the people. I think the phrase is wide enough to encompass all politicians, judges, the civil service, police and the armed forces for any misuse of power.

  1. #1 by yhsiew on Wednesday, 9 March 2011 - 5:13 pm

    In recent by-elections, some simple-minded rural folks said they voted BN because people asked them to vote BN. It is imperative that rural people be educated on what democratic rights, accountability, transparency, separation of powers and independent institutions mean before the opposition has a chance to get BN thrown out of Putrajaya.

  2. #2 by Godfather on Wednesday, 9 March 2011 - 6:18 pm

    The greatest tragedy for Bolehland is the 22 years of misrule by the Pharoah Mamakthir. He single-handedly destroyed the judiciary, and compromised the PDRM, the ACA and the AG’s Chambers.

    He cooked up the flimsiest of excuses to get rid of Salleh Abas. The whole world knows the real reason, but of course the old fox now tries to justify the expulsion of the Lord President in some ridiculous fashion.

    Because of Mamakthir’s tolerance of corruption so long as it justified the ends, crooks were stealing in broad daylight during his tenure. He agreed that there were allegations against a former finance minister. He didn’t say anything about a former senior minister who was recommended by the AG’s Chambers at the time to be charged with corruption, but was stopped by the old fox. He also didn’t say anything about a Mamak civil servant caught red-handed with RM 250,000 in his office drawer. During his reign, Mamakthir ensured that those who did his bidding would be exempted from prosecution.

    Anyone who opposed him would either be charged with some flimsy charge, like Anwar, or be hounded out of the country, like Prof Chee Peng Lim who had the temerity to question the billions poured into Proton.

    Now that Mamakthir had set the stage for crooks to steal in broad daylight without consequences, how can we expect BN to give up this self-serving “right” ?

  3. #3 by Thor on Wednesday, 9 March 2011 - 6:24 pm

    “Bila kita bagi mereka RM100, mereka akan panggil kita tuan”!
    “Bila kita bagi mereka RM1000, mereka akan sembah kita sebagai Tuhan”!
    “Itu lah perangai mata sepet dan kaki botol”!

    Will these happen in the next GE???

  4. #4 by Loh on Wednesday, 9 March 2011 - 7:48 pm

    ///Former Sabah state secretary Simon Sipaun remains unbowed by a police report lodged against him yesterday by the state Umno Youth for casting doubts on the Malaysian federation. Umno Youth has been…–

    The police are more fearful than UMNO youth. The police can haul up anybody who could contest against UMNO. Even students are subject to 10 hours interrogation for returning book. Simon Sipaun should watch out for police approaching him.

    That is why UMNO youth are fond of making police report. They were never charged for false reporting.

  5. #5 by Godfather on Wednesday, 9 March 2011 - 8:21 pm

    Let’s face the harsh reality. 10 pct of the voting population understand the need for check and balance. The other 90 pct don’t care because they are either part of the unchecked and unbalanced or they are too poor to care.

  6. #6 by son of perpaduan on Wednesday, 9 March 2011 - 8:44 pm

    Beside social networks, I use my knowledge from IT to explained to those who are not computer literate regardless their race just to convinced them by facts. Majority of those people are unable to access to actual information merely dependent on misinformation newspaper only.

  7. #7 by Winston on Wednesday, 9 March 2011 - 11:44 pm

    If I am not mistaken, Malaysian ministers are supposed to declare their assets.
    But so far, no one has done so!

  8. #8 by waterfrontcoolie on Wednesday, 9 March 2011 - 11:55 pm

    A little diversion. How come selangor could not put up FREE WIFI for its people. MB Khalid, any reason? You did very commendable State budget over the past 3 years. Put FREE WIFI like Penang, of course with speed to shame all the crooks!

  9. #9 by Mike Tee on Thursday, 10 March 2011 - 1:04 am

    IT IS TIME to end THE Great Robbery of the century in Malaysia lasting over 31 years and continuing if BN win again.
    UMNO used the “bumiputra” to robbed the minorities Malaysians’ right of higher education, shares of goverment land schemes like FELDA, business licences and govermental contracts, full subsidies of primary education and choices of education, jobs in govermental departments and as a digified citizens.
    These roberries even exteded to the majorities poor Malays too, as great deals of the control of those benefits went to cronies or the representatives of the ministers.
    BUMIPUTRA should be redefined to include all Malaysian who were borned in the land of Malaysia.
    To vote for BN is to give a seal of approval to UMNO to carry on robbing us and our children and their next, next generations.

  10. #10 by k1980 on Thursday, 10 March 2011 - 9:53 am

    //If you are 21 and above, register yourself as a voter now and when election time comes do your duty //

    You are forgetting that many rural youngsters will without a fart sell their vote for a few ringgit which can enable them to purchase several packs of cigs or a few bottles of toddy

  11. #11 by boh-liao on Thursday, 10 March 2011 - 10:11 am

    POSTAL VOTES – d darling of UmnoB/BN as they guarantee fixed deposits 2 UmnoB/BN

  12. #12 by boh-liao on Thursday, 10 March 2011 - 10:14 am

    Today rakyat learn another new fact, rectal sex is not sodomy, such great sex education fr our courts, yummy, where on earth do ppl get such great service fr courts, truly boleh

  13. #13 by monsterball on Thursday, 10 March 2011 - 10:34 am

    hhhhmmmmm….adjective of rectum…between colon and the anus.
    Karpal …against all odds …he is keeping Anwar away from jail.
    What a marvelous lawyer he is.

  14. #14 by Ray on Thursday, 10 March 2011 - 10:54 am

    In any authoritarian nations …..ruled by Dictators definitely abused constitutional power practise in favor of their Leadership .
    Thus whatever bussiness they try to execute will also benifits firstly to their close families’ friends/relatives …poor rakyat will recieve nothing

    So this is what had been going on for 53 yrs in sorry state Malusia ….Umno Malay race based politics…Untung Tak!!
    When GE is near,they will handout Ringgit cash to sweeten their campaign just to get voters more assurances /confident for their political success….isnt this considered as a horrendous Political crime commited damn so ingenious just use a Rm 100 denimination note for each vote count…this is the only opportunity for rakyat to get Umno tolong for few second .
    Umno akyat Morons lawmaker cheated Rakyat by telling Rakyat please go home and face extreme difficult economic and social conditions, including high unemployment, rising food prices, constraints on personal freedom, all the root causes of these suffering livlihood resulted by endemic corruption within Umno and BN .
    NH Chan article serves as a BIG WINDOW for Rkayat to understand what a Real Government is!!….Be fair to all Malaysians regardless of creeds,religion,
    and all Parliamnetary politicians should not practise race baesd politics and constitutional policies

You must be logged in to post a comment.