Open Letter to Paul Yong – A new Malaysia?

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Cabinet and executive council positions do not belong to any party or person but to the people, writes Choo Sing Chye.

I was utterly shocked when my wife showed me a video of your supporters yelling in unison “Hidup Paul Young” outside the courthouse.

Is this the way your supporters articulate the new Malaysia?  It sounded more like Barisan Nasional than Pakatan Harapan.

When past leaders like P Patto, Lau Dak Kee and many others demonstrated, it was not about ourselves; it was about the people.  We never once came out to demonstrate for ourselves.

Let us not forget that the toll-free route from Jelapang to Simpang Pulai resulted from our huge successful demonstration led by Patto and other state leaders along the Kuala Kangsar road near the North-South Highway a few decades ago.

We had demonstrated along with the people of  Bukit Merah, Papan, Bercham, Farlim, Ampang Lama and many more, and not once was it about ourselves – it was for the people.

Paul Yong, the nature of your charge is not political, and it should stay as such.

Malaysia inherited its legal system from the British; it offers you this maxim – you are innocent until proven guilty. This maxim is binding on you and on us all.

People forget that our legal system is not based on the French Napoleonic legal system, in which a person is presumed guilty until proven innocent; it is the opposite here.

For this reason, you are still innocent. At this point, they are only allegations. So, charging you does not equate to guilt. It must go through a long process of the law before deciding guilt or innocence. This decision can come only from the judge and not from any Tom, Dick or Harry.

READ MORE:  Presumption of innocence until proven guilty

Paul Yong, there are written laws for the citizens of Malaysia, and there are also rules for politicians and political parties. They are often referred to as conventions. Conventions are unwritten or unseen rules woven seamlessly into the Westminster political system, and we are part of it.  

Like it or not, these conventions are binding and they put a cap on the behaviour or action of politicians. If not, a free-for-all culture would prevail in our political system.

The two conventions are caucus loyalty and caucus responsibility.

Caucus loyalty

Any minister or executive council member who disagrees with the main policies of the cabinet must resign from the post he or she is heading to prevent a split in the party and disorder in Parliament. The caucus must be preserved. 

Caucus responsibility

When a minister or an executive council member is charged with a crime or is involved in any immoral issue, he or she or she must resign or at the very least go on leave immediately. Party or government resources must not be used or seen to be used in such cases. 

Resigning does not equate to guilt; it is to avoid any distraction it might bring to the executive council while you are defending yourself in court. You must defend yourself like any citizen.

The executive council seat should be vacated to let another PH assembly member take over full-time.

Cabinet and executive council positions do not belong to any party or person but to the people. These positions are held in trust (of the people), and they are not permanent.

READ MORE:  Presumption of innocence until proven guilty

Let us not break this trust.

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