Monday, September 22, 2008
22-09-2008: Snap election may be the answer
The struggle for power between the Umno-led Barisan Nasional (BN) government and Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR)-led Pakatan Rakyat (PR) opposition coalition may eventually lead to an impasse, a legitimate resolution of which could only be had in the hands of the people via a snap general election.
The PR coalition has demanded that the BN government reconvene parliament by tomorrow for the tabling of a motion of no confidence against the BN leadership. The demand has been rejected.
In coming up with the Sept 23 deadline, the PR coalition has essentially served notice that it may head for the palace by then with its purported list that spells out the adequate number of BN members of parliament (MPs) crossing over to the opposition for it to form the next federal government.
If not, the opposition will have to wait until Oct 13 when parliament reconvenes to table the motion, which may be rejected by the Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia. If so rejected and assuming PR lived up to its claims, the opposition will most likely end up consulting the palace.
If the motion was allowed and subsequently defeated, the BN leadership could then proceed to govern the country without the spectre of defections hanging over its head, and life can return to normalcy for many, while the opposition can dream of realising its ambition four years from now.
On the other hand, if the motion was approved, Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim could become prime minister if he had a way to show that he now commanded majority support of the House.
However, he would then have to contend with Deputy Prime Minister and newly appointed Finance Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who could also claim to have the backing of the House. Whatever the case, one or the other would have to show concrete evidence to the Agong that he commanded majority support of the MPs.
Pursuant to the federal constitution, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall appoint as the prime minister the MP commanding the majority support of the members of the Dewan Rakyat.
The best option would be for incumbent Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to advise the Agong for a dissolution of parliament and return the decision to the people. Arguably, he would have to do so before the vote of no confidence, assuming such a vote could be approved.
A free and transparent snap general election is as much a democratic process as the regular elections.
Regardless of whichever personality has the majority support and to avoid a potentially messy constitutional crisis, a dissolution of parliament and subsequent snap general election now may have meaningful benefits for the country and the people.
Firstly, returning the decision to the people rids the process of the moral hazard of crossovers and defections. MPs can then be given the opportunity to realign their interests, be it in their existing structures or otherwise.
Secondly, it could be a fresh start for this young country and it would be a very good way to determine the sentiment and mood on the ground, what people demand from their politicians who will be canvassing and hopefully listening intently to their views.
Thirdly, a snap general election will not be such a waste of public funds as some quarters may make it out to be. In the current climate of economic woes arising from the financial meltdown in the United States, the positive spin-off in economic activities will be passed down to the people — a form of pump-priming, if you like.
Fourthly, the opposing teams could present their definite and unequivocal policies, including their clear stance against racism and plans to revive the country’s declining economic fortunes, to the people.
Fifthly, a general election will prevent a potentially long-drawn constitutional crisis that may cripple the day-to-day running of the country.
Sixthly, it will present another much-needed opportunity for coalition partners on either side to reunite and stand together on common principles, and possibly enter into new partnerships. Individual parties will also have the chance to shake up their own organisations and their candidates’ list.
Lastly, but not the least, it will be an opportunity for everyone, the political parties, the personalities and the people to settle matters once and for all on who should be the government of the day and who should be the opposition at this given point of time.
After the people have spoken in a snap general election, maybe then the country can move on.
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