Towards a two-party system — Shanker
AUG 7 — As the proverbial sand in the hour glass trickles away on the ruling party’s present term in Putrajaya, we can agree that the clarion call for a two-party system remains very much loud and clear.
If there is one great awakening in the minds of the people post-March 2008, it is that no one political party could lay claim of Putrajaya as their inherent right; it belongs to the rakyat.
Our toil and tax ringgit is what helped to lay the bricks and concrete that make up the federal capital. It is this realisation that motivates the rakyat in wanting a proper check and balance mechanism in the country’s governance by its stewards, and that such an aspiration should be well represented by a strong federal opposition, which at present, happens to be Pakatan Rakyat.
Thus, may I humbly point out to our ex-Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad that this aspiration does not translate into what he terms as “Greeks bearing gifts”.
If the people — via the Bersih rallies, for example — have risen to show BN that we mean business when we say we want a clean government, then you can be rest assured that we will weigh other political parties — should they govern Putrajaya in the future — by applying the same scales; no more asking us to be grateful because “janji ditepati”. Just be grateful that we re-elect you if you could tepati your janji-janji.
We need a fully functioning two-party system because it promotes competition between political parties, which in turn, will begat improvement within the system. Let’s face it, our system needs a complete overhaul. We cannot achieve that by performing scanty tweaking to a system that is lumbered due to years of corruption coupled with bureaucratic inertia and inefficiency.
Announcing economic measures, KPIs, statistics or replacing unjust laws do not amount to anything of long-term intrinsic value when project costs are inflated, open tendering is not practised as pledged, the ringgit’s purchasing power remains weak and when key government agencies do not report independently to Parliament as they ought to in a democracy.
We are a nation that is capable of achieving much greatness; unfortunately, for the past 30 years, our political office-bearers have been content in keeping us occupied at the rungs of mediocrity. The fact that Proton still struggles to stand on its own footing — even with help from indirect taxes — whilst South Korea’s Hyundai is a globally recognised brand name is but one example.
Recently, we read from press reports that RM893 billion was siphoned out of Malaysia between 1970 and 2010 into tax havens abroad. Now, that’s the wealth of four generations that our gatekeepers have failed to monitor. But who would be held accountable?
Many Malaysians are upset at not getting their tax ringgit’s worth. Their pay their taxes, but their children could not get education without incurring the high college fees, or turning to loans from PTPTN or the corporate sector. They have to put up with spiralling medical costs because the alternative — public medical services — is inefficient and the waiting list is too long.
Why are there Malaysians such as Rizal Razak who have to get caught in the middle-income trap and suffer the consequences of our currency’s weak purchasing power and ever increasing cost of living? Could the loss of our RM893 billion have been a factor that contributed to our detour in arriving at this path?
Why does Teoh Beng Hock’s family continue to be denied justice, but uncanny efficiency is displayed in arresting and charging a whistleblower like Rafizi Ramli? What is the point of having and touting NKRAs, NKEAs and various statistics when social justice is found to be wanting?
On the subject of statistics, may I also offer one to those who are quoting to us “facts” and “figures” with regards to the “improvement” in crime rates? Ask anyone you know in the Klang Valley, and chances are good that at least five out of 10 people that you talk to have either experienced a crime personally or know of someone who has.
Our political journey has taught us a number of important lessons, and chief amongst this is that no one party should be allowed hegemony in Putrajaya. Democracy is not perfect; but we need to cherish it because it allows us to exercise our free will in choosing the government that will best convert our aspirations into reality.
* Shanker reads The Malaysian Insider.
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.