People end up as pawns in power politics

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What happens to all those voters who worked so hard in the last general election to ensure that the candidates of their choice won, wonders Lavaniyan Nathan Jothy.

Perikatan Nasional or the National Alliance is now the new ruling government of Malaysia. 

This new government assumed power on 1 March 2020, when Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin took the oath of office as the eighth Prime Minister. 

This government came to power not through a snap general election or after a sudden dissolution of Parliament. Instead, it seized power after a few members of Parliaments formed an unholy alliance between various political parties and claimed they had a majority. These parties are Barisan Nasional (BN) – comprising Umno, the MCA and the MIC – Pas and Bersatu.

How morally valid was these MP’s action of wresting power from Pakatan Harapan, a multiracial coalition comprising PKR, the Dap, Amanah and Bersatu.

How is a government formed? The Constitution does not specify the steps.

Article 113 of the Federal Constitution states that an Election Commission, subject to federal law, shall conduct elections to the house of representatives and the legislative assemblies of the states.

The House of Representatives (Dewan Rakyat) and the Senate (Dewan Negara), by virtue of Article 44, are the two houses of Parliament. 

There are 222 representatives in the House of Representatives. 

In line with Article 43(2)(a), the Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall then appoint a prime minister who in his judgement is likely to command the confidence of the majority of the member of that House. The Agong may act at his discretion in the appointment of a prime minister by virtue of this article.

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And under Article 43(2)(b), the Agong shall on the advice of the prime minister appoint other ministers from among the members of either house of Parliament.

This is a simple constitutional arrangement in Malaysia of how a government comes to life and can begin to function and perform its role.

Muhyiddin Yassin formed his government with the help of BN MPs together with 11 PKR MPs who had left their party and joined PN in what is now known as the Sheraton Move.

The 11 PKR MPs’ action not only ended the 22-month PH coalition’s tenure in power but also ended the political trust that they had with the electorate who had voted them in to represent them in Parliament.

The nature of these parliamentarians as the people’s choice will have no meaning if they resort to using their parliamentary seats to form a government that includes parties rejected by the people.

Because of their selfish acts, the political composition in Malacca, Perak and Johor changed hands from the elected PH state governments to negotiated PN governments.

Democracy in its simplest understanding means the choice of the people. The ancient Athenians who first practised this kind of government represent a model form of political choice for most people in the world.

Democracy gives people the chance to express their free will in choosing representation in governmental based on their political ideologies, represented also by the parties that are contesting. The party that wins a majority will form the government of the day. That is how a morally legitimate elected democratic government ought to work.

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The whole saga of the formation of PN to replace the PH government can only be describe as diabolical or, at best,Machiavellian.  It is a classic case of greed for power combined with self-preservation, betrayal and worst of all, a total lack of integrity and ethics.

The 2018 general election was a clear sign that the majority of the people had rejected BN as the dominant politic power, and instead they elected PH as the legitimate government.

What the 11 defecting MPs have done is that they ignored the wishes of the voters in their constituencies. Instead, they cooperated with the same disgraced political party they had previously scorned and vilified.

The result: this disgraced party along with its cohorts seized political power in a morally illegitimate manner with a couple of their members even taking over as state chief ministers.

The previous government had an ethnically balanced cabinet, showcasing the diversity in Malaysia. What the PN government has done is to change that into a predominantly Muslim-bumiputera cabinet.

What happens to all those voters who took so much effort to ensure that the candidates of their choice, affiliated to the coalitions of their choice, would win in the 2018 general election? 

If these defecting politicians can turn their backs on their own fellow MPs in their original coalition, with no sense of guilt, how long will it take them to turn their backs on the people who voted them [and their original coalition] into power.

This episode reveals that voters are just pawns who sacrificed to realise the personal agenda of unscrupulous politicians. For these politicians, being the political creatures they are, the voters are immaterial once they have tasted power.

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The individualistic nature of these politicians shows us they apparently don’t have any sense of what is morally wrong or right.

This new government now has three years to prove itself under difficult circumstances. Whatever the outcome and whatever it accomplishes within this period will be meaningless – unless it can win over the people’s hearts, show them it is a government for the people, and administer the nation better than the previous government did.

Lavaniyan Nathan Jothy, a regular follower of aliran.com, studied law at a local university 

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