THE joke in town now is that everyone should join the political parties DAP and Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) for a RM10 fee, run for office, and then wait for the big payoff.
Both parties deserve to be the butt of such jokes since the fall of the Pakatan Rakyat government in Perak was due to the resignation of three individuals from these two parties, who are now pledging support for the Barisan Nasional (BN). The other assemblyperson who hopped out and then back into Umno was a BN elected representative to begin with.
This column will not debate whether the Perak Sultan’s decision not to dissolve the state assembly was constitutionally right or wrong. Rather, the point I’d like to make is that with the political developments in Perak, the people are learning that they cannot place blind faith in a political party. Neither can they trust their elected representatives to adhere to the principles of the party he or she contested under.
Nasarudin returned to Umno 11 days after his
defection to PKR
Of the four assemblypersons who hopped, it is rather unfortunate and unfair that only Jelapang assemblyperson Hee Yit Foong, formerly from the DAP, has evoked such strong public condemnation. Most likely because she is a woman, violent and sexist language and acts have also been targeted at her.
Some people blame Hee’s greed and an alleged payoff she received amounting to millions of ringgit. Others blame the arrogance of Beruas Member of Parliament (MP) Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham and Pantai Remis assemblyperson Nga Kor Ming, both from the DAP, for Hee’s betrayal. This argument seems to be substantiated by DAP MP for Batu Gajah Fong Po Kuan who claimed that Perak DAP has numerous problems that caused the betrayal to take place.
Whatever the reasons for her decision to leave the DAP, Hee will have to contend with the persecution against her good self for a long time to come.
And while people look for someone to blame, the fact of the matter is that DAP itself lacks a democratic approach in solving its internal party disputes.
Without a mechanism to allow for dissenting views to be debated and resolved amicably, this is the likely scenario. The party leadership will probably continue resorting to using pre-signed resignation letters and threatening their assemblypersons with expulsion when things spiral out of control.
A party’s need to resort to pre-signed resignation letters shows that the political party is unable to vet and trust its own members. And since the BN has shown that the rules of the game can be redefined, with or without pre-signed resignation letters, these safeguards may be quite useless.
Hee Yit FoongElected representatives are supposed to be leaders in their own right and not commodities to be traded and bargained for. Yet the reality is that they are treated as such by political parties in both the BN and Pakatan Rakyat.
Hee’s 22 years in the DAP meant nothing when it was time to really demonstrate her loyalties. This only justifies the view that some politicians are really no more than commodities who can be traded.
For certain, Pakatan Rakyat will need to field more credible individuals to run for office in the future. The public will certainly be more wary of future candidates and will scrutinise the person more closely for fear of a repeat of the Perak crisis.
As it is, the leadership qualities of many of our elected representatives are in question. Their oratory skills may be good, but good leaders listen as well as they preach.
Energies spent worrying about traitors should be channelled to more constructive use, like grooming the leaders who will run for office. Leaders who can provide constructive criticism to the party and articulate the people’s needs are what the rakyat need.
No short cuts
Perak has shown us that there can be no short cuts when it comes to providing good governance. Pakatan Rakyat has another four years to prove they are capable of governing well and to groom their respective political leaders.
Can they reform themselves and provide the people credible and principled leaders and hence, stability?
Or will the Pakatan Rakyat leadership continue to explore the option of frog-hopping politicians as a viable strategy towards forming and running government?
KW Mak is a DAP-appointed councillor in the Petaling Jaya City Council. He believes the people are the ones who will ultimately pay the price for the politicking between Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat.