Saturday, May 06, 2006

It's a sad day for Malaysian politics

These are sad days for Malaysian politics. MPs of the ruling coalition (BN) opposed one of the truly beneficial motions put before parliament (and in these cynical times, there are not many proposals by politicians which are genuinely good for the people). Why did they oppose it? Simply because it was proposed and forwarded to the house by the Opposition. The BN has a standing ruling that they oppose ALL opposition motions, no matter the benefit or otherwise.

That, to me, is a RIDICULOUS ruling.

There were press reports recently that an MP had approached the customs dept for reasons that were alleged to be of dubious motivation. The opposition leader, Lim Kit Siang of the DAP proposed that the report in the local daily be referred to the Parliamentary Rights and Privileges Committee. This committee has some, not much but some, influence over MP's conduct. Personally, I would have referred it to the Anti Corruption Agency (ACA) - but I suppose we have to allow the MPs an attempt to discipline themselves internally.

The ruling coalition opposed this motion, en bloc.

Now, what does this appear to me, the layman on the street, who pays tax that funds their parliamentary allowances?

Firstly, the MPs are protecting their own. Attempting to frustrate as much as possible any actions that might lead to a reduction of their privileges (official or construed).

Secondly, this dents the govt's stated ambition to rid the administration of corruption. If the highest lawmakers of the country cannot find it in themselves to investigate and pursue what appears to be a blatant and serious abuse of MP's privileges, what can we expect from the cop on the street or the govt counter staff processing your forms?

At the end of the day, MPs toe the party line. But they must remember that they were elected as individuals by voters in their constituency. As individual MPs and representatives of the people, they are expected to have a mind of their own and make it their paramount duty that the interests of the public be preserved, even if and especially if the party line is detrimental to the interests of the people.

At last count, we have only one MP from the ruling coalition who is entitled to be called a representative of the people and a protector of their interests. The other few hundred,... they're just there to warm the seats and collect their allowances.

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