Are we ready for a hung parliament?

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A hung parliament would pressure both sides of the political divide to come up with policies and alternative policies that are beneficial, writes WH Cheng..

A hung parliament would be the best solution to stir the nation’s political parties to act with maturity and work harder for the people and the nation.

Yes, some politicians might condemn such an idea as crazy because it would not benefit them or their political parties or help in their quest for power. They would reason that such a situation would only bring chaos to our nation.

Correctly said – because many of these politicians have been in power for decades and yet they have yet to show any maturity in matters of governing this nation.

A hung parliament is a situation where no political party or coalition of political parties whether from fthe ruling or opposition blocs obtains an absolute majority in number of seats in Parliament after a general election.

The ruling party or coalition may gain just a sufficient number of seats – or it may be called a simple or narrow majority – while the opposition party or coalition may have increased its parliamentary seats but is unable to form a government because it lacks the simple majority required.

In simple terms, the ruling party or coalition does not have overall control of Parliament while the opposition would regard such a situation as a balanced Parliament, thus benefiting it in terms of greater bargaining power when it comes to debating any issues or bills or tabling motions.

Because of the current political situation in Malaysia, a hung parliament would be the best solution to stir our nation’s political parties in Parliament to act with maturity and work harder for our people and the nation.

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A hung parliament would pressure both sides of the political divide to come up with policies and alternative policies that are beneficial instead of politicking intensely and unnecessarily.

If it lacks a majority in Parliament, the ruling party or coalition would have to be prepared to make greater concessions with the opposition in policy-making, spending and control of the agenda.

In this case, to be more convincing, the ruling party or coalition would have to strive harder to promote efficiency and openness in its governanc. It would have to emphasise competence, transparency and accountability in its day-to-day administration to satisfy the public.

This would also stop the government from denying various weaknesses and stirring up racial and religious issues to divert attention from the real issues.

A hung parliament would also force the ruling party or coalition to be more serious about tackling corruption, abuse of power abuse and mismanagement in government in order to regain public confidence.

It would stop them from using laws to cover up such wrongdoings when they are exposed.

Apart from this, in a hung parliament, elected representatives from the ruling party would have to set their party and personal interests aside to work harder in the interest of the people. They would have to learn to work closely and professionally with their opposition counterparts to advance common goals and objectives for the betterment of our nation.

If politicians from the ruling party or coalition are mature enough in this situation, they could achieve good governance that would enhance their reputation.

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Opposition must act responsibly

In a hung parliament, the responsibilities of the opposition’s elected representatives would increase. Instead of trying hard to bring down the minority government, the opposition would have to strive hard to ensure efficient checks and balances on the government of the day.

In such a situation, the opposition could also:

  • push for broader parliamentary reform,
  • seek recognition for the institution of a shadow cabinet,
  • establish parliamentary oversight committees to scrutinise every aspect of every government ministry, and
  • regain their right to receive annual constituency allocations.

Besides that, the opposition would also work harder to promote and present their alternative policies, provide checks on the government framework and spending, and debate various issues. This would pressure the ruling party to change or amend their framework for the benefit of our people and the nation.

The absence of an overwhelming ruling party or coalition majority in the parliament does not imply an opposition majority as well. The opposition parties, currently working in a loose coalition framework, may also find it a bit difficult to unite against the government.

They may have policy or ideological differences and therefore, they too would be more likely to strike bilateral deals.

A stronger parliament

Without a majority ruling party or coalition in the government seat, Parliament would become the most important institution and thus powerful. The legislative process would become more uncertain, but it would be more inclusive.

In a hung parliament, bills may take longer to be passed as a stronger parliament would see active debates and heavy amendments to bills before they could be put to voting.

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In today’s scenario, the ruling party or coalition with an absolute majority in Parliament normally bulldozea all its bills through simple votes with limited reviews, debates and no amendments.

A hung parliament would pressure the speaker to ensure all procedural aspects are adhered to, such as:

  • recognising the importance of having votes via secret ballots,
  • allowing longer time for scrutiny and debates over bills and motions,
  • instituting inner reforms and
  • providing more democratic avenues in the legislative process.

In this situation, the prospects of parliamentary reforms too would be brighter. Given a stronger opposition presence and a weaker ruling party or coalition, both sides could come to a consensual mode more often to put things to order.

Lastly, how a hung parliament is dealt with depends on the maturity of our elected representatives.

Only political parties, politicians or elected representatives who are immature and self-centred would exaggerate the perils of a hung parliament by creating fear and worry among our people. This is because they would be simply afraid of losing power and acting out of personal interests.

Source: Berita Daily

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