Monday, July 01, 2013

Do We Need Reconciliation? What Do We Need After Each General Election?

The Malaysian Insider said the "GE13 was like a tornado cutting through Malaysian society, tossing friendships like confetti and leaving the country reeling under the rubble of hate, fear-mongering, suspicion and just plain nastiness." 

It added that "Malaysia cannot continue on this path of score-settling and destruction. At stake are race relations, its economic well-being, political stability, simple civility and the country's hard-earned reputation for moderation."

It asked if "the Najib administration will put aside the corrosive elements of anger, betrayal, retribution against born and bred Malaysians who did not vote for Barisan Nasional – and focus instead on building bridges."

There is another burning question: Do we need a reconciliation after every GE? Is the Najib administration responsible solely for national reconciliation? What about the PR coalition's reluctance to accept the GE results and its demands on reconciliation e.g. BN must admit electoral fraud, sack the EC leadership and reform the electoral system?

The first demand is enough to kill any possibility of reconciliation. If reconciliation is unachievable, what can we achieve post-GE?

Firstly, it is very important to address the need for politicians to focus on nation building and not on its destruction through a lack of interest for policy making and governance. It is pertinent to remind the politicians that the electoral process is used to select and elect policy makers whose job, after the GE, is to provide leadership in governance. It is not a game or a competition. Winners are not rewarded with gold bars or riches. It means shouldering the responsibility to govern and to serve the nation. 

However, the electoral process has become a sort of competition lately where political parties and politicians are more interested in winning rather than the responsibility and expectations that follow after the elections.

If politicians are able to appreciate the true meaning of elections, then there is a little need to focus on reconciliation after every GE. The focus should not be on the politicians but the nation and the people. It is an irony that the whole nation is now being held ransom by the unending and continuous political bickering after the GE.

Secondly, I agree that some reforms have to be done. It is undeniably important for all participating parties and stakeholders to accept, respect and embrace the electoral system as an important democratic instrument to elect leadership. Hence, instead of focusing on a negotiated truce we should instead focus on building the credibility of the electoral system. This is going to be very difficult because who or which organization is capable to arbitrate the process of gaining acceptance and respect of the electoral system from all parties?

The answer may rests in the independence of the Election Commission. Here, I agree with Bersih's chief Ambiga that the commission should be made independent of the parliament but any changes or proposals made by the commission must be tabled at the parliament for approval. It means the leadership of the Election Commission is going to be paramount. Its leaders must not come from the civil service or ex-civil servants and should be appointed by the King. Is Malaysia short of eminent persons?

On this aspect, I agree that there is a need of a total leadership revamp of the EC after the indelible ink fiasco. Although it might be difficult to prove that the 'edible/delible' ink had contributed to electoral fraud but its procurement was a clear cut negligence and incompetence. Unfortunately, the EC leadership has to be made accountable for the folly. 

Next, I think it is pertinent for a reliable, credible and independent third party to organize a meeting between the BN and the PR to work out mutually acceptable reforms and ground rules for the 14th GE. The third party has to be the EC. Hence, it is very crucial to sort out the new appointments of EC leadership before any 'reconciliation' and reforms can kick start.

I also agree that the MPs and elected assemblymen should work for the collective interest and well-being of the people. There is a need to change the orientation of the current political landscape in the country. The focus now is overwhelmingly on politicians. It is time we end our infatuation and idolization of politicians. It is time we demand for service and results because we are paying for it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Mr Khoo, a honest response from we ordinary men in the streets - NOTHING great will ever happen if nobody is willing to put the nation first but themselves...we have had heard enough of so many remarkable slogans,emotional declarations,heartfelt intentions,sweetest promises etc.....but nothing extraordinary happened.Save us the torture of yet another feel-good hypothesis,we are already inmmuned.