In my 20 years in politics and as a four-term MP, never before has a letter caused inexplicable mayhem in Malaysian politics.
I graduated from the University Malaya Law Faculty in 1988.
Engrained from my legal training, a belief and value system that the Federal Constitution is the Supreme Law of Malaysia.
Article 43 of the Federal Constitution clearly states that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (the King) appoints the prime minister and the Cabinet.
The King uses his discretion and judgement to decide who he believes is most likely to command the confidence of the majority in Dewan Rakyat (Lower House).
Is a letter of support enough to convince the King to invoke his discretion and judgement?
Let’s recall the King’s speech at the opening of the Parliamentary session this year.
The King reminded all MPs that he was compelled to invoke Article 43 when a vacuum was created resulting from Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed’s resignation as prime minister – a resignation that was submitted at will and against the King’s good advice.
His Majesty then called upon all Members of Parliament (MPs) to sign a statutory declaration, in the presence of government officials as witnesses.
If a mere letter is considered adequate to change a government, coupled with the fact that we do not have an anti-party-hopping law, then we are opening the sluices of our political system and might as well deem it a system without integrity.
We, as sitting MPs are NOT in a position to tell the King how to do his job. Giving letters of support or making media statements of non-support is the least of our priority right now.
Shouldn’t MPs be responding to a national emergency in a constructive manner? And when I say national emergency, I was referring to Covid-19, not the act of fuelling ongoing political crisis.
Shouldn’t we be preparing ourselves for the next parliamentary session so that we can hold our ministers accountable for the national response, without fear or favour?
As a Parliamentarian, I am against the abuse of Parliament proceedings for MPs to behave capriciously for a whimsical change of our premiership; especially when we are facing one of the biggest global threat to our nation.
If there is in-fighting within political parties, angry discourse, accusations or blame, I suggest that MPs do so within the walls of their own political parties.
I’m of the opinion that the biggest casualty of this (possible) “Political-Musical-Chairs “mayhem is the rakyat (people).
There are countless things 222 serving MPs can do for the Rakyat in-between Parliament sessions.
Nothing in the Federal Constitution states that the role of MPs is only during Parliamentary sittings. Covid-19 posed to us an unprecedented challenge, with long-term negative consequences.
Governments around the world are grappling with the pandemic. New policies, significant budget revisions, de-implementation of non-prioritised government spending etc are inevitable decisions.
While some interventions are well intended, they also need constant monitoring. Therefore, MPs play a crucial role in representing the people by monitoring equitable distribution of government assistance and implementation of new policies.
MPs must effectively communicate information, raise awareness and respond to grievances. Whether the MP is a government backbencher or Opposition, he or she must vote on issues in Parliament, ask questions, request for debates and regularly communicate with relevant ministers.
Ministers must take this role seriously, be accountable to MPs and respond to their grievances fast. By doing so, it is an act of true authority.
This may sound like pie in the sky for those who are sceptical about the workings of our government but I stand firm in my convictions and in my role as an MP.
MPs are addressed Yang Berhormat (YB) or Honourable Members for a reason. It comes from the French word Honorabills, ie worthy of honour.
To be afforded such a title is an honour that comes with duties and responsibilities to your constituents. Lest we forget.
In recent months, I have been critical about how a coalition government must and should function. Given the current political climate, we cannot escape from the prospect of being governed by coalition governments, now and in the future.
A coalition government is founded upon an agreement of shared power, hence shares responsibilities.
Political ideologies may be different, and this will inevitably cause voter’s confusion. There must be accountability to partners within the coalition, via pre and post Cabinet meetings.
Engaging MPs from all parties is equally important, not just via minister question time in Parliament but as an ongoing process of government servants administration to act without bias.
Let us put to the real test, the famous phrase of “Government of the people by the people.”
Personally, I am tired of Politicians with personal agendas. It would seem to me that politicians no longer walk the talk and have forgotten about the people who voted them into power.
Such behaviour of selfishness puts to shame, other MPs, who are sincerely servicing their constituents. Now more than ever, the Rakyat must and should come first.
In the wise words of my father “In politics there are no permanent friends and no permanent enemies, only permanent INTERESTS!!”
Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said is Member of Parliament for Pengerang and Deputy Speaker of Parliament. First published in Malay Mail
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