Why party elections should never be postponed

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Photograph: theSun Daily

They fact that many of Malaysian parties do not hold competitive internal elections is perhaps one of the main causes of the trouncing they received in the polls, writes Sharp Observer.

Every party post should be contested, each and every time. There should no exception for whatever reason.

It is not up to a party’s supreme council to decide whether there should be an election in any given year or not. It should be decided by members.

The Umno acting president said recently that the party’s supreme council has agreed to allow competitions for all post. Seriously? That is the right of the supreme council?

It is not enough for just the presidents of the defeated parties – mainly Umno, the MCA and the MIC – to resign. All their top brass should resign for the massive debacle and humiliation their parties suffered. In fact some of them, by their rudeness and rowdiness, may have caused more damage. They shouldn’t just hold on; instead, they should pass the baton to others.

Surely, their second echelon leaders could do a better job under the current circumstances. A new broom would sweep away all the old furniture.

Perhaps, all parties should amend their constitution to state that all their office bearers’ terms come to an end if their party loses in an election. If the previous lot think they can still contribute, then they should stand for election again. They shouldn’t hold on to their posts and say they can improve the parties’ fortunes.

They fact that many of Malaysian parties do not hold competitive internal elections is perhaps one of the main causes of the trouncing they received in the polls. If they are unable to face their own members in party elections, how are they to face the whole country in a general election?

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Democracy in a party cannot be strengthened by postponing party elections and appointing individuals to the supreme senior council. A hard fought but clean and fair party election is the ultimate test of a leader’s popularity and strength.

As it is, the practice of parliamentary and state candidates not being chosen by local branches or divisions or parties at the constituency level but by the party head office, which might not be familiar with local conditions, is already detrimental to democracy. How do we expect local voters to choose their party’s nominee when they have had no say in who has been selected to contest in their own area?

In the Whitehall parliamentary system, candidates are chosen by parties at the local parliamentary level, not by party leaders. This allows the MPs to serve local voters rather than just being beholden to just one person. This is how democracy should work. A bottom up – not top-to-bottom – prescription.

Look and learn, I say.

Sharp Observer is the pseudonym of a keen follower of aliran.com

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