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Thursday, April 30, 2020

In Malaysia, anything can be stolen, even a parliament

Malaysiakini

In a country where the people's elections, money and certain constitutional freedoms have been stolen, is it hard to perceive that their parliament has also been 'stolen'?
In a Malaysiakini report Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yasin said Malaysians do not want him to talk about politics but to focus on the Covid-19 pandemic.
"Since the first days that I've been prime minister, I have not thought about politics."
"The people don't want to hear that anymore, they are sick of it. They want to know what the government, the prime minister, the cabinet, the administration is doing to tackle the issues they face," said the self-confessed people-before-politics leader.
Or perhaps the people are sick of the lying, the treachery and the duplicity of the politicians. They can never be sick of principled politics and honest politicians.
So how is locking down Parliament and opening it for one day on May 18 going to help and not seen as a desperate and unconstitutional political act?
Is that Muhyiddin's idea of a functional government? No need to be answerable in Parliament when many of the people's questions and concerns remain unanswered and unresolved? Does the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government understand the meaning of parliamentary democracy?
Aliran has initiated petitions against the idea of a one-day parliament. The latter suggests a British-style 'Virtual Parliament' and why not?
A functional government, after all, is not a one-function government - just focusing on Covid-19 and its own ideas. It must listen to the people and their elected representatives, whether in the government or opposition.
It will not happen when Parliament is closed for business and voices are muted. A country without a parliament is a de facto dictatorship.
The truth is, and I am only guessing as I am not a mind reader, that most Malaysians want to know what the government plans to do to make the economy function again.
Now that the prices of petroleum and palm oil have sunk so low, how will the country cope? How is the government funding the billions in payouts to the people and as importantly, how have they been accounted? It is disturbing how countless gift packs meant for the poor can be found standing in a warehouse when some people are in dire need.
Muhyiddin may not like to talk about politics but his detractors are accusing him of playing politics with the country's parliamentary democracy by not convening Parliament.
Even police need policing
The people want their elected representatives to ask valid questions about the movement control order (MCO) and police powers, among others, and if there are double standards.
Why were a deputy minister and other leaders not immediately charged for breaking the MCO? Why were two young Malaysians charged and jailed for breaking the Covid-19 curfew? And one allegedly bundled into the car boot?
I understand the police are now investigating the anomalies as Malaysiakini has reported. That is so typical of the government. Why waste more police resources on investigating the anomalies when it is a simple matter of enforcing the law on everyone like a traffic infringement? Or do some important people enjoy benefits ordinary people don't?
Incidentally, it is questionable if jailing a young university woman for several days for an innocuous act of love in baking a cake and eating it with her friend is fair. And women should feel unsafe in the custody of the police after reports two Mongolian women were raped by a police officer. Now more investigations have to be done. Even the police are to be policed.
A one-day parliament makes a mockery of the august institution, an important and crucial arm of the government.
Muhyiddin is simply playing politics and not being truthful. He can stave off any challenge from the opposition by not convening Parliament for six months at a stretch and not have Parliament automatically dissolve. Hence the one-day session, but it raises crucial questions.
Is Muhyiddin being duplicitous by saying he is not thinking about politics? Does he understand the ramifications of closing down Parliament? Is he aware what he is doing may not be strictly constitutional?
And most importantly, is he trying to silence the voices of the people and their elected representatives by gratuitously closing down Parliament?
In Malaysia, it seems anything can be stolen, even a parliament.
But thank God, many Malaysians still have their wits about them and are not fooled by treacherous, lying and duplicitous politicians.

STEVE OH is an author and composer of the novel and musical Tiger King of the Golden Jungle. He believes good governance and an engaging civil society are paramount to Malaysia being a unique and successful nation. - Mkini

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