The problem with Malaysian Opposition

“Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force; like fire, a troublesome servant and a fearful master. Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action.”

—George Washington, speech of January 7, 1790

Perhaps we are getting too used to it, so much so that we are taking many things for granted.

Things like corrupted politicians, indiscriminate use of public funds, overwhelming political party interest, cronyism, conflict of interest by the people in public office, unfairness & racism in the government policies, lack of monitoring and enforcement – just to name a few. Just have a look at the various posts at Aisehman, Jeff Ooi, Rocky’s Bru and many more to see the things said and done by the local politicians and you would be left in disbelief and angry.

Of course, with so much crap being thrown out these days, I am sure most of us now wish that:-

  • The government wake up to the demand of the people (ya, right!) or
  • The component parties in the government raise the issue up for discussion (ya, who we are kidding here – MCA, MIC and others are almost non existence during UMNO general assembly) or
  • The opposition party presses the government for governance & answers (ya, see how difficult that is – just ask Lim Kit Siang and he will tell you all about it).

What is left for us to do? Rioting on the street? Well, that is not the right way to do. Exercise the people’s power in the next general election? Ya, that is one good way of telling the government that the ultimate boss is still the people. The Spanish people did just that after the Madrid bombings – they voted for the “other guy” and taught the arrogant government a “hard to forget” lesson.

Looking at the responses so far from the net and friends, it looks like Badawi may not be boasting the “majority support” point in the next election. That is of course if the “hatred” on how things are being run continues, no one’s support is bought using cash & gifts and dirty election tactics does not set in.

But let’s assume 99% of the people (excluding those from the ruling political parties) have decided to overthrown Badawi and his men in the next election, who will be the alternative choice? This is the dilemma for the majority of people including me. The problem that we are facing is that we have a disunited, weak and self-centered opposition. Yes, they may be championing the right causes but are they strong enough to form the next government?

So, what do we do when we are not confident that the opposition is strong enough to form the next government? We end up electing the same old shit that we have been complaining about before the election. The vicious cycle takes its turn and we end up waiting for the next general election to “kick some ass” – again. So, what is the problem with Malaysian oppositions? There are many problems such as different party direction, agenda and many more but the way I see it, the opposition party have not proved well to the people that it has the right people to take care of things once elected.

The concept of “shadow cabinet” is simply missing from our local political arena.

When there is a problem with the environment, you find Lim Kit Siang raising the issue against the government. When there is a problem with the education, you find Lim Kit Siang raising the issue against the government. Sometimes, we tend to think that there is only one person in DAP – which is Lim Kit Siang. There are others of course (Teresa, Kulasegaran & others) but the rest don’t get the right exposure or arena to argue their case. Ya, you can blame it on the opposition party themselves on this shortcoming.

For instance, when a question on the concept of shadow cabinet was posed to the ex-Deputy Prime Minister in his blog, the answer from him was only disappointing and it tend to show the low level of acceptance of the shadow cabinet concept. He just answered Bina keyakinan: perhatikan kemunculan barisan wibawa dan agenda jelas. Saya yakin dengan syarat kita berusaha” (crudely translated: Build confidence, watch out for a clear agenda and strong line. I believe that we will try with conditions). Hmmm, that does not build up much of confidence in me on the ability of the opposition party to form the next government.

Yes, it is very unlikely that the opposition will ever form the next government (but we will never know) but at least with a shadow cabinet, they will be able to keep up with the nitty gritty of each ministry operations, policies and shortcoming and to keep up the pressure on the government to perform. The public should be able to identify immediately who in the opposition is keeping a close watch on government. There will be more focus and centralized avenue for complaints & grouses from the public and formulation of better & precise policies & plans. And when the time comes for picking a new government, we can count on having the right people being ready for the job.

Australia, Canada, Ireland, Japan, Poland and UK already deployed the concept of shadow cabinet so successfully in their political environment – so the question is when will the opposition parties in Malaysia tend to pick up this concept and give the current government run for its money? After all, if one is arguing that government is not following the best practices, then it is self defeating if one is also disregarding this concept for themselves.

But then again, isn’t this the problem with Malaysian Oppositions?

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6 thoughts on “The problem with Malaysian Opposition

  1. Malaysia’s Opposition at the moment is too small to effectively have a Shadow Cabinet, though attempts were made at this, and even shadow Town Councils as well.Well, I foresee in this election a vote swing towards Opposition based on sentiments on the ground 😉

    Let’s see if this translates to meaningful voices in Parliament.

  2. Well while I accept shadow cabinet as a positive thing, it can only arise when the opposition coalition is stronger.

    I think Anwar was being realistic and wants to focus on the other variables to make a big swing for the opposition in the 2007 elections.

  3. On the outlook, a shadow committee seems to be a feasible option which will allow smoother transitions between elections/re-shuffling/etc. Another positive outcome of a shadow committee is that the spread of duty and responsibilities of a single portfolio prevents any particular individual from monopoly of power and thus render no one indispensable.

    Nevertheless, I believe that in time, this will all be irrelevant when various parties use abuse this concept by forming hierarchy system which they govern (e.g. fast-tracking handpicked loyalists to assume the position that they are giving up). In this sense, we would be filling up positions with individuals who may not necessarily be the best or majority-elected.

    However, I agree that the lack of a formidable line of opposition has lead to dominance of the parties that currently hold office and that the opposition will need to find a way to employ young bright professionals that are willing to be more prominent.

  4. Chong – Parti Keadilan seems more appealing to the masses now that Anwar and Tian are online communicating with the people.

    Viknesh – yes, there will be some hiccups in the beginning but once the current government sees the oppositions pulling their acts together, then it is very likely that the government will stop fooling around with our votes.

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