Get rid of two-party system mindset

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Photograph: Wikimedia Commons

Why not put PSM, PRM and Gerakan into the opposition bench instead of continuing to look for BN to check on PH’s policies and their implementation, asks WH Cheng.

As you know, Pakatan Harapan (PH) governance in Malaysia has completed its first year. Many policies have been implementation, and many too remain pending.

Why are they pending? Certainly a lot of reasons out there. Consider the numerous effects of previous governance by Barisan Nasional (BN), which was famous for its corruption, scandals, abuse of power, mismanagement and racial and religious politics.

Well, on 9 May 2018, we Malaysians voted BN out from power because of one major thing: BN and their leaders had ruined our nation for decades; billions of ringgit were lost. BN leaders grew wealthier while the people became even poorer. Our nation’s coffers were almost been emptied with all their fancy handouts and swindling.

The then BN government borrowed extensively to finance their leaders’ personal interests – and the nation’s debts swelled to a trillion ringgit, in the process weakening our currency.

BN was shown the door on that day because they brought our nation and the people’s livelihoods to the bottom while their leaders grew even richer and more powerful because of serious wrongdoings.

This is what we should remember from that day when we brought down a government run by a group of elites who had stolen from the nation and the people.

Then came the new PH government, which is doing whatever it can to salvage what is left from over 60 years of BN rule characterised by abuse of power and corruption.

During the initial period, the new government did all it could to put our economy back on track and restore investors’ confidence. Over the first few months, PH managed to fulfil many of its promises to the people. Many other promises remain unfulfilled due to the government’s current financial constraints and economic setback as a result of a weak currency arising from the trillion ringgit in debt.

Due to many unfulfilled promises, many people reacted in dismay over the PH government’s so-called “U-turn”, as they claimed. On many occasions, the new opposition BN also took advantage of this subject by focusing on the ineffectiveness of the PH government in fulfilling the people’s aspirations.

It seems that many people have reacted emotionally and unreasonably on the back of messaging by BN, in particular Umno and MCA, portraying PH as not being able to fulfil the people’s wishes which PH had promised to fulfil in the last general election.

In recent by-elections, the people struck back by voting BN again to show their displeasure with PH, which has been systematically depicted by BN as being ineffective in its first year of governance.

Why would the people vote BN again to show their displeasure with PH? The tough question here is, why should we vote BN again when it has a proven track record of corruption and stealing from the nation? Why should we take such a risk again?

Why can’t we consider other opposition parties out there which we may still be credible in providing effective checks and balances – parties like the Socialist Party of  Malaysia (PSM), Parti Rakyat Malaysia (PRM) or even Gerakan – rather than BN which is still sticking to its bad old racial and religious politics, which can further ruin national unity.

We are currently steering towards a new Malaysia, a new chapter for our nation. We should have new and credible opposition parties to provide real and effective checks and balance on the PH government in Parliament and state legislative assemblies – rather than allowing BN to continue stoking racial and religious bigotry and hate in these institutions.

BN does not have the credibility to become an effective opposition coalition of parties because of its continuous conservative politics of race, religion and hate. They cannot even produce any alternative public policies, practical policies for the people. Whatever its representatives bring up or debate in Parliament or the state legislative assemblies is mostly about race, religion and occasionally even gender insults and bullying. They have little practical basis for whatever they say in these institutions. Furthermore, BN’s shadow cabinet is merely window-dressing and is as good as dead.

Many of us have this particular mindset: if PH does not make us happy, then we vote BN again. This is the simplest thing the people do to show their displeasure over government policies or their implementation.

Can we just be mature and get rid of the two-party system from our mindset for the good of our nation? There are a few credible opposition parties out there who are able to provide proper and effective checks and balance, which could prove they are so much better than BN.

Why not put PSM, PRM and Gerakan into the opposition bench instead of continuing to look for BN to check on PH’s policies and their implementation?

We know Gerakan was in BN for decades but ever since they left BN, Gerakan has kept away from the shadows of its previous coalition and has ditched its previous subservient outlook in a bid to become an effective opposition party. As Gerakan has been in government before, it can be an effective opposition party based on its past knowledge and experience.

Both PSM and PRM should also be given some room to prove their worth to the people because of their many years of existence and service to the people.

PSM has been on the ground to serve the grassroots and working class. It has provided checks on various government agencies and numerous enterprises which have been perceived by some to be suppressing the working class and denying people’s housing rights. It has also developed some socio-economic alternatives for the government to consider. The party has been doing this from outside Parliament and the state legislative assemblies. So why not give it a chance to be a new force in the opposition?

PRM, while seemingly ineffective, has been active on the ground pursuing its ideas as an alternative centre-left party, which could serve the interest of the middle class. Its track record and experience in local elections in the 1960s cannot be ignored. Besides, its current pool of leaders are experienced personalities previously sidelined during their past connections with other major political parties. Why not give them a chance to serve the people and the nation if they are eager to represent us?

Many would say, we cannot see PSM, PRM or Gerakan doing things at all. By not giving them a chance to prove themselves in Parliament and the state legislative assemblies, how are we going to see PSM, PRM or Gerakan doing their part for us if we choose not to vote for them at all?

The question is, why should we continue to give our votes to BN when its track record has been proven bad, while those who are wanting to serve are not even given a chance to do so?

Again, can we all get rid of the two-party system from our mindset?

Source: Inter-Research and Studies (IRAS)

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