Thursday, May 15, 2014


Raja Petra Kamarudin
(Free Malaysia Today) – Parti Cinta Malaysia (PCM) candidate for the Bukit Gelugor by-election, Huan Cheng Guan, asked PKR deputy president Azmin Ali to clean up his party first before criticising others.
Responding to Azmin’s remarks that PCM stood for ‘Parti Cari Makan’ and was a BN proxy, Huan did not rule out legal action to counter what he said were statements meant to defame him and his party.
“We will look at our options, including legal action, after the by-election. Our central committee meeting will decide on what action to take,” Huan said at his election operations centre in Air Itam.

He wondered how Azmin would feel if he were to call PKR ‘Parti Kelentong Rakyat’ (party that cons the people) or ‘Parti Samseng’ (gangster party).
“Surely he will be angry right! If PCM is a proxy party for BN, ask Azmin to prove it. Or else he should stop spreading lies against PCM and I,” said Huan, the party’s vice-president.
Malaysians, even those who claim or aspire to be our political leaders, do not yet understand that one word that appears to be overused over the last 15 years or so since the 1999 general election. And that one word is democracy, not only a much overused but an overrated word as well. What do you mean by democracy and what do you know about democracy?
I suppose the news report above is a good example of what Malaysians mean by democracy. Democracy is the right to call each other names and to belittle or vilify one another. Democracy is basically my right to insult you, ridicule you, slander you, insinuate, allege without evidence, and run you down just because you do not share my opinions and ideals or because you are on the other side of the political (plus religious) fence.
We must be very careful with democracy. Democracy is not perfect but it is probably, thus far, still the best man-made system around — until humankind comes out with another even better system. However, since democracy is not perfect, there are limits to it and most times we do not understand the boundaries to these limits.
Democracy is not a cure-all solution to running or managing a country. Democracy merely deals with the way in which we choose our government. Other than democracy we also have autocracy, theocracy, and whatnot. And there are different forms of democracy, Malaysia practicing one of them — the Westminster system of parliamentary democracy. Whatever it may be, democracy merely means the rule of the majority. And when we have a majority then we will also have a minority. And when majority rule prevails then the minority will be subject to the will of the majority.
And that is what makes democracy imperfect.
For example, the majority of Malaysian citizens are Sunni Muslims. And the majority of the 222 seats in parliament as well as the 576 seats in the various state assemblies of most states — save, maybe, Penang, Sabah and Sarawak — are controlled by Sunni Muslims. Hence, according to the rules of democracy, what Sunni Muslims want is what we are going to see.
That is what democracy is all about. And, of course, for non-Sunni Muslims, this may not quite be what they want. But then you opted for democracy. You opted for a Westminster system of parliament that works on the first-past-the-post system of majority seats and not majority votes. So that is what you will get.
In a Westminster parliamentary system we do not have direct voting in parliament or in the state assemblies. We only have representative voting. Hence we choose our representatives in parliament and in the state assemblies and we mandate power to these 798 people to decide and vote on our behalf. We entrust them with the job of looking after our interests.
However, there is one flaw with this system. And that flaw is: these 798 people all got into parliament or the state assemblies on a party ticket (unless they are independent candidates who by a long shot happened to have won the election, which is very rare indeed although sometimes it does happen). Hence their loyalty is to the party and not to the voters. So, most times they will vote along party lines and not based on what is good for the voters. And what is good for the party may not always be what is good for the voters.
There have been attempts in the past for Barisan Nasional as well as opposition representatives to vote with their conscience. This basically means they vote against party lines. And these independent-minded representatives have been severely punished for that. Hence no one would dare vote with their conscience or against their party unless they wish to see a very short political career.
And this was why we launched the Malaysian Civil Liberties Movement (MCLM) almost four years and this was also why Haris Ibrahim a.k.a. Sam launched his Independent Candidates Initiative where he proposed that at least 30 of the 798 representatives in parliament and the state assemblies should be non-party members so that they could vote with their conscience and not be bound by party loyalty or have to toe the party line.
Maybe 30 out of 798 is nothing. This represents only 3.7% of the total. Even then this 3.7% will not all be in one place. Maybe five will in parliament and the balance 25 would be spread out all over the country, probably one or two in each state. Hence there would not be enough numbers to sway the votes.
That, of course, is true. But it is not swaying the vote that is what we aim to achieve here. With just a handful of representatives how can you do that? It is about having at least half a dozen or so voices in parliament and one or two voices in the various state assemblies who can talk to the voters as wakil rakyat and inform the voters about what they should be focusing on. We need a third group of people who can disagree with both sides and explain to the people why both sides need to be opposed in situations where both sides are wrong.
The most ‘favourite’ comment by Malaysia Today readers is: why do you talk so much? If you care about Malaysia then stand for elections. Don’t talk ‘outside’.
That is exactly what we wanted to do. I personally did not intend to contest the elections. What we wanted to do was to send professionals into parliament and the state assemblies so that they could be the independent voice of the people and not just their party’s voice and people who will put their party above the people (or else get punished if they do not).
As I said, democracy is not perfect. Democracy is merely the tyranny of the majority over the minority. The majority decide and the minority have to obey. That is democracy. If you support one side you will vote ‘yes’. If you support the other side you will vote ‘no’. Whether ‘yes’ or ‘no’ is correct is not of concern. It is what your party wants. Will they explain why they voted ‘yes’ or voted ‘no’ other than because this is what their party wants and because they have no choice but to do what their party wants?
Independents who are not tied to any party will be able to explain the pros and cons of certain decisions and inform the people the implications of certain policies or laws so that the voters can better understand the issue.
Malaysians tend to assume that if a country is a democracy then it also respects human rights and allows civil liberties plus the various freedoms such as freedom of religion, lifestyle, thought, choice, speech, association, and so on. This is not so. Democracy does not guarantee you all these rights, liberties and freedoms. Democracy only allows the majority (and not the minority) to choose the government they want. Thereafter, the government chosen by the majority decides what is and is not allowed. It is not for you to decide.
There are democracies that will put you to death if you leave Islam. There are democracies that will jail you if you criticise the monarch. There are democracies that will jail you or put you to death if you enter into a same-sex or gay relationship. And there are democracies that will not allow Christians to use Allah and another two-dozen or so other ‘Islamic’ terms.
The list of democracies that do not respect human rights or civil liberties is long indeed. But they are still democracies. And the majority of the people voted for these governments — or at the very least they won the majority of the seats in the elections (even if not on majority votes, like Malaysia in 2013 and the United Kingdom in 2010).
Malaysia is a democracy. You can form an Islamic party. You can form a Malay party. You can form a Chinese party. You can form an Indian party. In fact, you can even form a Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, Iban, Dayak, Bajau, Bidayuh, Kadazan-Dusun, Murut, etc., party if you wish. You are free to form any party whatsoever if you think your party will appeal to the voters and you can win some seats in the elections even if you cannot win enough seats to form the government. So who says Malaysia is not a democracy?
Ah, but hold on. In democratic Malaysia you cannot form a Communist party. You cannot form Shiatul Alior ‘the party of Ali’, meaning a Shia party. You probably cannot form an atheist party whose party platform is to abolish and ban all forms of religions. And I can safely bet you cannot form a gay-lib party whose party platform is to legalise same-sex unions. But Malaysia is still a democracy.
Can I form a Malay rights party and stand on the platform of Malay supremacy and fight for all non-Malays to be expelled from Malaysia? The government will probably reject my application if I try to submit it. And even if the government does not the Chinese, Indians and ‘others’ will scream and protest like mad and will call me a racist pig.
But why should this be offensive? Is Malaysia not a democracy? And in a democracy should we not be allowed to choose our own political platform and propagate the ideals of our struggle? If I am denied my right to form my party then this is a violation of my civil rights. Does that still make Malaysia a democracy? Yes, that still makes Malaysia a democracy. It just means that in democratic Malaysia certain rights are allowed but not everything is.
Unfortunately, most of you are still ‘locked’ in the fight for democracy. You still talk about democracy. Four years ago, in 2010, I already left democracy behind me. Four years ago, in 2010, I moved on. I have abandoned the fight for democracy because that fight is so narrow and full of flaws and instead migrated upwards to the fight for civil liberties.
And once we attain civil liberties we do not even need Islamic laws in whatever form because you will be free to leave Islam or enter into a gay union or drink, gamble and whatnot, and no one is going to violate your freedom of religion, lifestyle, thought, choice, speech, association, and so on. In fact, you can even form a Communist party or a Republican party and propagate the abolishing of the monarchy in favour of the Republic of Malaysia.
So, do you support Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat? This will be what most Malaysia Today readers will ask me after reading my articles such as this one. Well, tell me: which of the two parties support secularism, plus freedom of religion, lifestyle, thought, choice, speech, association, etc? That is the party I will support — as long as the eradication of abuse of power and corruption plus accountability, transparency and good governance are also part of their mission and vision.
Now, which part of that last paragraph do you not understand?