Thursday, March 5, 2009


8) “Well, we already have the right to vote in every general election, so what’s the fuss?” - This is yet another response I get in my talks or discussions. Actually, this point is so important and covers many aspects that one can write volumes of books on it! I shall try to get across the spirit of the matter. Let us ask these questions:

a) is voting the only right of the citizen as far formation of Government is concerned?
b) Is the composition of the cabinet unimportant to the quality of service to the Nation?
c) Is the citizen voting the candidate or the party? (Need to rethink party voting and consequent formation of Government?)
d) What does “mandate” mean really?
e) What happens when MPs do not perform, must the Rakyat wait another 5 years – Is that not too long here real damage to the nation may be done, especially if the MP is a Minister or someone with important position?

There are many more such critical questions that bother me. These questions necessarily arise under our current political system. Surely, the duty of the Rakyat to the Nation cannot end at voting? If this is so, then we should create the mechanism and the system that will allow that duty to continue.

On mandate. We have heard before politicians use the term “mandate” to justify their every action until the next election. They give a narrow and incorrect interpretation to the word “mandate”. Having won an election, they say they have mandate. To me a mandate is a contract between the elected and the voter based on explicit and implicit terms. The explicit terms are of course all those promises that he explicitly told the voters ie his election manifesto. The implicit terms would include things like upholding the constitution, rule of law, serving the general interests of the Rakyat, etc. Therefore, when the elected MP breaches any of these terms, the mandate is revoked – the voter no longer wants him. He cannot hide behind collective decisions of his other elected colleagues. The mandate was personally given to him.

Under our current political system and thought, mandate is presumed to be continuing until the next election even when the MP breaches all the terms! A mandate is presumed to be a blank cheque to do anything. That cannot be so. This presumption becomes frightening when you consider that even the employment of a clerk is subjected to a three months probationary period. Raperas need to understand this concept and its misapplication in realpolitik carefully.

As to the other questions that I have raised, you may want to seriously think how mechanisms could be legitimately put in place to improve the system.

We need major reforms in this department. You will note that politicians hardly talk about political reforms.


NEXT: Last post on the preliminary points of political thought, God willing.

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