Problem? Stop talking and do something about it! — Chris Lee Chun Kit
APRIL 16 — There were strong opinions to my views on pragmatism. Some were in support while others claim that it was an excuse for the “hopelessly stupid”. Well, we are a democracy and we have to listen to the views of everyone out there and in fact this is a healthy practice.
There are a lot of opinions as well towards us particular group of people that are labelled as politicians.
“Politicians are not to be trusted”.
“I will never join a political party… I am free to voice my opinions against both sides”.
“Politicians only care about themselves”.
These are among some of the comments that I have heard recently. Well, as a boy who grew up in Penang when Barisan Nasional was at its peak in terms of power, I cannot blame people for those comments as well. When I was growing up I had similar views about politicians.
Was politics ever perfect? Well, Donald Trump is running for President of the United States. I think that is enough to tell one that there is no perfection in the world we live in. We can strive to make things better though, to ensure that there can be a better deal for us when it comes to choosing the administrator of our country. The key word is right there though, it’s “choice”.
Most mature democracies have at least a two-party system in place. Some have more but overall, that is when the system is unbiased enough for all parties to compete on an equal level and the bottom line is there must be more than one choice. In the past, there was always only one choice, the BN. Instead, we have debates on limiting the terms of high political offices which our system, being based on the British Westminster Parliamentary system, is not consistent at all.
Our battle for a legitimate two-party system is far from over. As we fight this battle we should not be shackling ourselves with unnecessary policies. The choice of whether we should be in power or not is with the voters and it starts with the availability of choice. All governments who practise democracy must always go back to the will of the people, who are our voters.
When we shackle ourselves before the ultimate battle has been won, we destroy our chances at victory especially when the BN has no intentions of following any of the arguments that are presented. One look at how the so-called “reform” CM of Sarawak and the way his administration bars federal opposition politicians from entering Sarawak is good enough. On the other hand, while he promises to restore Sarawak to its glory days, he promises full support to the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak shamelessly. Has he forgotten that it was the BN that caused Sarawak to be among the poorest States of Malaysia in the first place?
Then you have Nathaniel Tan who insinuates that Lim Guan Eng can be compared to the leadership of North Korea (https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/337005). In the first place, Nathaniel does not seem to understand the differences between the Parliamentary system and Presidential system that the United States of America practises. Then when he compares the list of dictators, he realises that Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore is also in the list of long-serving leaders and since Singapore is a success story, he adds:
“Lee Kuan Yew is on that list as well, but to someone of the persuasion that this speaks to the merits of a no term limit system, none of the fundamental principles underlying this article would make sense anyway.”
In other words, he can’t seem to be able to justify that and chooses to ignore this fact and move on. Try using a point like this while arguing a case in court then because while what we say here may not be a real courtroom, we are definitely in the courtroom of public opinion. He then says:
“So, in whose company do we want to be? North Korea, Libya and Zimbabwe? Or France, Germany, the UK and the US?”
Whoa whoa whoa! Talk about selective comparisons. Again I say Nathaniel does not understand the differences between the Presidential and Parliamentary systems of government because if he did, he would know that Germany and the UK’s heads of government are respectively the Chancellor and the Prime Minister and last I checked, there are no term limits attached to either of those offices.
While we are on this subject, the 2015 Human Development Report by the United Nations Development Programme lists “very high human development” countries and the top five highest ranked countries are Norway, Australia, Switzerland, Denmark and the Netherlands. None of these top five countries have term limits set on their heads of government. Once again, his arguments for a term limit falls flat on its face.
Seriously, the US is still trying to deal with the reality that they might be getting a Trump Presidency soon and Barack Obama is now a “lame duck” President. Ah, the headaches of the Twenty-Second Amendment.
Lim Guan Eng was sworn in as Chief Minister of Penang after getting the mandate from the people twice. How can his administration even be insinuated to be compared to the North Korean dictatorship? North Korea is a failing (if not failed) state and anyone who comes to Penang can see the difference that has taken place in less than eight years of Pakatan Harapan rule. And may I add that as Penang is ruled by a federal opposition coalition of parties, there were no special favours nor grants given by the federal government yet in states ruled by the BN, they still can’t manage to do as well as Penang. Compare that to the previous BN administration that gave Penang the derogatory nickname of “Darul Sampah”.
At the end of the term, Lim Guan Eng as well as the rest of the Pakatan Harapan Penang State Government will have to face the people for a new mandate. The will of the people will not be denied and they will judge whether Lim Guan Eng has done his job well or not. If you want to compare, then let’s compare Lim Guan Eng to any BN Prime Minister or Menteri Besar or Chief Minister. Instead of finding ways to replace these corrupted heads of governments from their positions, some have decided to go against the cleanest of the bunch from a federal opposition party even though the federal government has yet to see a change of government since independence. Talk about missing the forest for the trees.
If one truly believes in the principles of democracy then it is important that this mandate be respected. Remember, the present electoral boundaries were drawn up by the Election Commission and approved by the BN government so it is safe to say that this boundary is not designed to be advantageous to the opposition to begin with. So do the proponents of the term limit doubt the wisdom of the voters of Penang then? Remember, Penang is an urban city that is well connected to the outside world. I have strong confidence that the people of Penang are more than capable to make the best decisions for their future. The unnecessary shackling policies will play right into the BN’s hands unless that is exactly what the proponents of the term limit want.
The BN knowing its secure position on top of the political totem pole has exploited its dominance to the maximum. The result was a government that could do whatever they want as they felt that their power would never be challenged. When that monopoly of power was challenged for the first time in 2008, some new directions were given that might not be to the liking of those who were addicted to the practices of old, disgruntled feelings began to emerge.
The BN will never change their ways until they are sent into the opposition on the federal level. They are used to manipulating the system to their benefit for the last 60 years and it will be foolish to think that they can change now. The system has been manipulated to their benefit and while they hold practically absolute power in the federal power due to massive centralisation exercises over the years, they are working towards a return to the time where they would have complete control even at the state levels. The BN’s goals are to return to their glory days and not reform. Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi tried and gave up very quickly when it came to reforms.
Today, I see many of my friends leave the country having given up hope that genuine reforms can ever happen but I know deep down in their hearts they will always call Malaysia home. This is why I stayed and why I chose a side. Many a times we can talk about the problems of our country in coffee shops and forums but we can also do something about it. Some say politics is always the same. I say get involved and make a difference, be part of a team that fights on for the democracy you want. Give the people of Malaysia the chance to make a choice.
I, like so many others, will be going to Sarawak to do battle with the BN. It will be a tiring and draining campaign but we fight on. So why do we do this? We do it because we still believe we can make that two-party system a reality and for once in our country’s history, we will see politicians on both sides of the divide work hard for the benefit of the people in order to win a mandate. This is definitely not the time to scuttle our own ship for an unrealistic ideal.
Politics is an imperfect world but like so many things in life, we have to struggle to make it work. The time for talking is over. This is me taking charge over my own destiny, will you do the same?
* Chris Lee Chun Kit is a city councillor with the Penang Island City Council (Majlis Bandaraya Pulau Pinang) representing the DAP.
** This is the personal opinion of the writer and/or the organisations the writer associates himself with and does not necessarily reflect the views of Malay Mail Online