ARE WE SAYING THAT MPs ARE WITHOUT SOUL AND CONSCIENCE?

Posted on September 10, 2008

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Poor things. To hear people talk about them, our Malaysian MPs must have no soul or conscience to speak of. They ran for public office under a partisan political banner. Once elected, they are being whipped into a narrow corridor of interest reflecting only their political party’s wishes. By the party’s wishes, we are not necessarily talking about the tenets and spirit of the party’s elections manifesto which promise voters what the party will do, win or lose. It is not always about such lofty and noble things. There are times when MPs are being expected to serve the self-interest of certain key party leaders when they table legislative bills which sometimes seem more calculated to advance their own leadership agenda than the wider good of the people.

Each time a vote comes up in parliament, the Party Whip dictates which way MPs are to vote. Their personal conscience don’t come into the equation. MPs must vote the way their party decides not how they think and feel about an issue.  So, for instance, if the powers that be urgently want a DNA legislation or an amendment to allow the Elections Commissioner to serve an extra six months in office, as long as they have a majority of MPs in the House, such a law will be passed. The Party Whip is effective in guaranteeing such results every time.  

Thus, in today’s political climate when there is much talk of late about morality, let it be said that not all things that are lawful are necessarily moral. Neither is there absolute morality in anything that involves human beings. For all our noble ambitions and wish to occupy the moral high road, the choice is not between two moral absolutes but the lesser of two evils.  

Simply because the powers that be have the legal means to do what they purpose to do does not mean that what they have done is always moral. Are legislations that brought about such draconian laws as the ISA, OSA,  and the like morally justifiable?

How is it that MPs or ADUNs who otherwise are people-friendly, intelligent and reasonable would vote to whittle away religious freedom including that of their own respective religions? The answer is the Party Whip. They are required to vote the party line.

I don’t say that an elected official is always free to vote whichever way is to his or her liking. Some regard must be given to party stands otherwise why stand for elections under a particular party? However, in critical times, a human being including the MP or ADUN must vote his or her conscience. That is the moral thing to do. As a voter, who or what do I vote for? Is it 100% for the party? My own answer is NO. I also voted for the candidate as a person whose demeanour, personal stand and instincts are trustworthy. Would I vote for an MP or ADUN who votes blindly 100% along party lines? Absolutely NOT. How can I trust someone who never stands up for anything but his party and is never capable of standing up at times to what his party wants and thereby exercise his personal conscience?  

These days there is so much talk about the morality (or immorality) of parliamentary cross-overs. The argument goes like this: if the MP is elected under the banner of a partisan political party, then he or she is duty-bound to stay with the party in whose name he or she has been elected an MP. It seems a very reasonable argument. But in effect it is one more nail in the coffin of the MP’s personal conscience.

What March 08 and August 26 have ushered in is that there are new choices for the Malaysian nation and new thinking on the part of Malaysian voters. A new political realignment is in process. Clearly there are unconscionable acts being committed by the powers that be which I don’t wish my MP or ADUN to endorse. Nor should bigotry from any quarter be condoned.

So now, my MP or ADUN wants to cross over to the other side. I have no problems if others come up with the best moral means available whereby my MP or ADUN can complete this crossover. Let those (many of whom are my friends) who have the correct formula come forward. Anything which is workable will be welcome. But don’t let anyone condemn my MP or ADUN for wanting to crossover. Only he or she can discern his or her own conscience. He or she has the right to exercise that conscience. Especially in this case whereby the whole force of the weaponry which the powers that be possess will be trained on him or her. I for one will admire the person’s courage, moral resolve and love for nation to take that long, lonely road leaving a sitting government to a still unknown future.

What this great crossover will do is merely to ensure that a sitting government will fall. This in itself is worth achieving because it sends a message to the incumbent as well as all future Malaysian governments that you cannot fool all the people all the time.  It does not beg the question as to how and when and who will form the next government.

Of course I know whom I want to form the next government because I support their agenda for the nation. But the formation of a government is a second step. I am writing about the necessary first step and that is that sufficient numbers in the right mix of MPs will courageously say, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, and exercise their consciences to step out of the old politics into the new politics.

I think some encouragement for them will be in order. 

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Posted in: Leadership