Why the Opposition is important

The Pakatan Rakyat-led government of Perak plans to amend the state’s constitution to enable it to create a post of opposition leader there.

 

This political development is worth noting given that in Malaysian society the very notion and existence of opposition (never mind dissent), which is legitimate in a genuine democracy, had until recently often invited the derision, if not the wrath, of the powers-that-be.

 

In announcing this plan, Perak Menteri Besar Mohamad Nizar Jamaluddin remarked that the move ‘was to recognise the duties, responsibilities and contributions of the opposition leader which previously had only been accepted through convention, but was not provided for under the law’. (See here.)

 

It is hoped that this political reform in the state of Perak would resonate elsewhere throughout the length and breadth of the country. The notion of ‘checks and balances’, which helps to prevent a society from sliding into authoritarianism or dictatorship, would then be adequately resuscitated and accorded its rightful place in a democracy.

 

Besides, as Nizar rightly pointed out, an Opposition leader is one that is elected by the people and that the choice of the people has to be respected. This is indeed a fresh wind of change in a post-March 8 Malaysia.

 

It follows also that government institutions should pay due recognition to the legitimate status and role of the Opposition. For example, RTM shouldn’t avoid Opposition politicians like the plague as it often does. Or for that matter, neither should mainstream press marginalise this group of politicians or, worse, paint them as deviants or trouble-makers.

 

To reiterate, we hope that other Pakatan-run states in the peninsula would also follow the Perak example. Equally important, hope is also gingerly pinned on the BN-ruled states to undergo this vital paradigm shift.

 

After all, if one were to seriously talk of ‘moving on’ politically and socially, this is surely part of that crucial transition. And, surely it doesn’t require a short stint in a boot camp before one could appreciate the political significance of such democratic practice and institution.

 

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1 Response to “Why the Opposition is important”


  1. 1 KK 13 June 2008 at 10:57 am

    Well, Bernama just reported that the former Perak MB Tajol did not think it was appropriate to create the office of the opposition leader in the state just yet because of cost-saving measures that are underway right now in light of the hike in fuel prices. Interesting.

    It appears the former MB is NOT opposed to the idea. So, score one for the current MB and Pakatan Rakyat because in all the 50 years of BN’s government of almost all the states, none of the BN MB and CM ever thought of such a basic democratic principle.

    But then Tajol conveniently points to the need to save right now to try and dampen Nizar’s refreshingly democratic idea. But is anyone fooled?

    Surely, it does not take much to amend the Perak Constitution and to set up an office in the Perak Secretariat that has airconditioning and some basic furnishing. Or is Tajol expecting more, perhaps even a larger stipend to go with the office of the opposition leader?

    Looks like Tajol, like the rest of the BN, just cannot accept anything from Pakatan Rakyat–still interested in looking at and responding to things only to serve the BN. Unlike the call by Nizar, who was driven more to serve the interests of the rakyat.

    Yet, another case of the BN still not getting the message of the results of GE 12.


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