It’s tough to be a good MP these days. The real good ones are either in the Opposition or in the “wilderness” after being suspended. Others are quietly sitting down in the corner and have decided to play safe. Image source: the Net
Before we proceed further, let’s get some definitions right, shall we? It is clear that some people have forgotten its real meaning and purpose:-
- Conscience = the awareness of a moral or ethical aspect to one’s conduct together with the urge to prefer right over wrong
- Principle = a rule or standard, especially of good behaviour: a man of principle or the collectivity of moral or ethical standards or judgments
- Member of Parliament = a representative elected by the voters of an electoral district to a parliament
Situation in Malaysia
The recent direction of Pak Lah to stand along party line instead of individual conscience is one good screw to the back. Pak Lah, unfortunately, decides to be the tough guy at the wrong time, wrong place and for the wrong issues (at critical times, he shows his sad and soft side – once again at the wrong time, wrong place and for the wrong issues).
It does not matter if you have been doing a great job in your constituent (to the extent people worship you) or to some extent of asking law enforcement to close one eye to “help people” in your constituent but once you are in Parliament, be ready to kiss your conscience and principles (if there one all this time) goodbye. The party whip stares at you at the front door.
That is unfortunate – because for someone who was voted by the masses on the presumption that he will fight for the rights of the people and country, adhering to party contradictory interests can be detrimental at times. People would start to lose confidence even if you are one of the good guys around.
Ok, forget about conscience and principles (who am I kidding here – it is almost non-existent in politics), some MPs these days go one step further, they also forgo the use of the brain (a few lose their balls too). Perhaps it is due to the “feng shui” of the Parliament building or having the wrong people voted in, Parliament these days has turned into one big circus – with plenty of clowns roaming around and making a big mess of it.
Talking and arguing about trivial things has become more important than talking about national issues. The late MGG Pillai had a good post about this in his post titled “In Malaysia’s Parliament, what a minister should wear is more important than the Ninth Malaysia Plan”
Some unnecessary antics by some of the MPs for cheap publicity and political mileage make the ordinary rakyat on the street want to puke blood (ya, it is that bad sometimes). It leads him/her to ponder on the question – “Did I vote this idiot in?”
MP’s Unwritten Rules
Let’s track back some of the “unwritten” rules that govern the Malaysian MPs in Parliament these days:-
1. Opposition’s motion is to be rejected at all cost irrespective of the fact that the motion is urgent and is made in the best interest of the country (Pak Lah made it crystal clear in the last few days – so much so for Wawasan 2020)
2. Party Whip is the general rule and is not the exception (by definition, it is often used for making sure the government does not lose important votes, or that the governing parties proportion of the vote is not overtaken by opposition parties but it does not look that way in Malaysia). Oh wait – party whip is the only rule.
3. Trivial issues is far more important to be discussed in Parliament than national issues (such as dress code being more important than 9th Malaysian Plan)
4. Party interest comes first before national interest (once again look at No.1)
5. Issues facing one race are more important than issues facing all Malaysians
6. Any critical or embarrassing (to the Government) issues raised by the Opposition should be labelled as racist or politicizing unwanted issues
7. Parliament is merely a rubber stamp of the executive – so forget about nonsense like conscience or principles (since Mahathir time – this notion has been strengthened with “concrete and steel”)
8. Whatever things are done by the executive no matter how stupid it looks is to be labelled as “this is what the people wanted” despite a clear protest from the masses (Anyone recalls the incident with some bridge down south?).
9. The people who voted the MPs are to be assumed as not having the right mentality to accept new changes (like the live broadcast of the Parliament sessions and as recent as showing documentary).
10. The people are forever forgiving and tolerant, so the same mistake can be done over and over again.
11. Dare to go against the party views – then be prepared to be suspended or struck off from the list of candidates for the next general election
12. Being an MP is a heredity privilege – it passes on from father to son to grandson (some may include son in law as well). The people who do the voting have little say in this.
It is said that absolute power corrupts absolutely and it seems to be the case in the Malaysian Parliament – the let-go of the MP for Jasin from punishment is one good example. Despite the obvious facts, he was found not guilty (wow!).
It is obvious that some MPs are riding high on people’s tolerance for parliamentary inefficiency for some time now. It’s is a good time to teach a lesson to these MPs that the people are the ultimate boss for their seat – not the party whip, party leader or certainly not the few outspoken clowns in Parliament.
Do you think it is not possible? Look at the facts from the 2004 General Election again (let’s take a few states for comparison, I am lazy to check all):-
Number of MPs
Penang – BN (70%) Opposition (30%)
Perak – BN (88%) Opposition (12%)
Selangor – BN (100%) Opposition (0%)
Wilayah P KL – BN (73%) Opposition (27%)
Number of votes
Penang – for BN (56%) against Opposition (44%)
Perak – for BN (58%) against Opposition (42%)
Selangor – for BN (64%) against Opposition (36%)
Wilayah P KL – for BN (59%) against Opposition (41%)
Number of MPs voted in does not mean the number of voters voted them is of the same percentage. In some States, the Opposition managed to garner an almost 45% of the votes and some lost the seat by mere hundreds votes. So, for those MPs who thinks that since they have a landslide victory over the Opposition and thinking of taking things for granted, all it needs to swing the number of votes is for the MPs to maintain the unparliamentarily antic and a proper push by the Opposition.
After all, we do not want to vote in people who do not wish to represent us in the Parliament; otherwise we would be left standing like the village idiot then, don’t we?
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A dummies’ guide on how to behave like a Malaysian Politician in time of crisis