Sugut assemblyman Datuk James Ratib (Umno), Pitas assemblyman Datuk Bolkiah Ismail (Umno), Kuala Penyu assemblyman Datuk Limus Jury (Upko) and Kuamut assemblyman Datuk Masiung Banah (Upko) are rumoured to be next to abandon the BN ship for Pakatan.
Most Malaysians won’t remember their names or seat names, come tomorrow, but they are aware of the mass exodus everywhere.
It was expected long before that whenever BN finally loses, their candidates will flee, but the rate is unprecedented. It does not happen in regular democracy, but Malaysia is different kind of democracy.
This is what 63 years of power can do, and it is hoped we don’t wait another sixty to get political representation right in Malaysia.
There is just two kinds of political lives in Malaysia; one, in government where all access to any government agency/ministry/company exists, primarily funds and authority, arriving together with the cooperation of corporate Malaysia and the perks, for no BN rep, state or federal, and even in retirement, suffers; and two, in opposition where your adversaries demean you followed by mainstream media, the institutions, all federal institutions — and whatever mischief or interference they can play out even in the states some opposition leaders are actually government — and live the duress of unending financial pressures.
This is wrong.
It has always been wrong.
The rakyat are equally responsible for allowing to this fester for decades — even during the Umno reign of one Mahathir Mohamad — and can now heal things.
The reform of the Election Commission must begin, the cultural mindset of civil servants doing everything possible to hurt the opposition of the day must end, and perhaps we can even venture to the possibility of making it easier for the next opposition party to have an even chance to win the next election.
The best thing Pakatan Harapan can do for Malaysia, is to make itself less invincible. Don’t utilise all the tools BN kept for themselves. Pakatan has to give up obscene power, and force parity to their own detriment.
That is if Malaysia is the agenda, and not leaders of the pact.
The party spine
Our political parties, both in government and opposition have no spine.
DAP might be a member of Socialist International, but there is hardly socialist discourse among its cadres. They devote more time talking about the sanctity of Chinese schools than the need for socialised benefits which is often synonymous with standardised deliveries.
Gerakan is part of the Liberal International, but their general members wouldn’t even fathom what liberalism is, let alone how to push it through their role in government. They were and remain, the Chines party always behind MCA inside Barisan Nasional.
Umno, MCA, MIC and the swathe of ethnic parties in East Borneo, are just that, competition for ethnic votes. They don’t even pretend to have philosophies.
PKR still has no ideology except to say we are the party of the masses. Sure, but who doesn’t want to stand with the masses?
PAS, let’s not talk about PAS.
And if I were to take a whack at it, most of their leaders have not been interested to increase the discourse within their general membership.
In the old reality, where too much power was in those in power and never enough time to live the good life, and in the other end, no power to struggling party leaders who spent time to survive in scarcity, membership number is just a thing to show as proof of strength.
With their extreme polarities playing out, they had no opportunity to build any ideological spine.
Here we are, in a position to fill the values gap with substance. Will they take it?
Jump over the moon
I hope the key lesson from all the exits is not lost on us, for it tells us the priority is to get a system where ideas compete, which means everyone gets a voice.
But voice is only possible with access and resource. Voice is necessary inside parties too, that members are involved in determining the values of the party.
If we don’t do that now, don’t assure people that every elected rep, regardless of party affiliation will be afforded the chance to represent their constituents as well as the next rep, then the jumping will never end.
It would take a big man, I’m not sure about Mahathir is that man, to allow all reps to have a chance to shine.
Otherwise, it’s just naked power and not process we find.