Tuesday, January 29, 2019

We Shall Have to Overcome on Some Other Day

A donkey carrying baskets was told by his shepherd master to flee when enemies approached. The donkey asked if the enemy would put another pair of baskets on him and if not, why flee.
In a change of government, the poor change nothing beyond the name of their master.
-The Shepherd and the Donkey
                                                                                Aesop’s Fables

Nothing Changed Beyond the Name
There will be many analyses of the Cameron Highlands by-election result. It is obvious Pakatan Harapan did not win sufficient Malay support and there was a lower voter turnout compared to the 14th General Elections. In the ultimate analysis, the result is a reflection of Malaysians agreeing with Aesop’s donkey. Other than a change of the prime minister and name of the coalition, the Pakatan Harapan government has not implemented the promised substantive reforms. The danger arising from the Cameron Highlands result is PH will be engaged in a race to the bottom of ethnic extremism with UMNO/PAS. With it comes greater ethnic tensions and deeper ethnic cleavages. All of us, Malaysians, like Martin Luther King Jr. have a dream. We have all been inspired by the song “We Shall Overcome.” It has become the anthem against injustice. It is a song about a promise: “We shall overcome someday. Deep in my heart, I do believe.” But in the light of recent events, May 9 was not the day. We shall have to overcome on some other day. 

Elite Capture of the Government
Inequality and racial politics in Malaysia is inter-related. The country’s persistent and growing inequality between the rich and the poor, economic deprivation suffered by various groups and deepening social fragmentation is due to racial politics. Racial politics have been perpetuated by the political and economic elite in order to maintain their wealth, influence and control of political and economic power. The country descending into a dysfunctional state is also due to elite capture of the BN government. It is a result of the political-economic elite’s insatiable greed.

The political-economic elite uses the political power in their hands to control the government institutions responsible for distribution of resources and to ensure that policies that benefit them are retained at the expense of a disempowered majority. The political-economic elite through political patronage maintain a system to establish monopolies and activities to extract rent. They manipulate politicians and administrators to cater to their narrow economic interests through inequitable practices that tend to discriminate against other groups.

This political-economic elite capture has been systemic, permeating through all layers from the highest seat of executive power down to the lowest municipal councils. From the awarding of Billion Ringgit infrastructure projects to Twenty-Five Thousand Ringgit projects to class F contractors.    

The PH reforms are to check the predatory behavior of the political-economic elite. The reforms are to put into place greater accountability, governance and empowerment of the middle and poorer classes. The reforms are to ensure equality before the law and securing both personal and property rights to give individuals the incentive and opportunity to take part in economic and political life without being beholden to the political-economic elite.

Rise of the Political-Economic Elite
A massive rural development fund was launched by the Ministry of Rural and National Development in 1959 by Tun Abdul Razak then Deputy Prime Minister, since then UMNO politicians became not only interested in the business of politics but also more interested in the politics of business – generating income, wealth and influence in the business of rural development. The development projects were won by UMNO politicians and subcontracted to Chinese contractors.[i] It came to be planted in the minds of many young Malays and aspiring entrepreneurs that there seemed to be a shortcut, a “political way” to make the materialistic leap to become rich rather quickly. Upward social mobility is by climbing the rungs of the political ladder and money politics was born. Following the first Bumiputera Economic Congress in 1965 and the second three years later in 1968, detailed strategies and programmes were made to implement the nationalist economic agenda which culminated in the New Economic Policy in 1971. The evolution of the Bumiputera Commercial and Industrial Community (BCIC) progressed in tandem with the protracted affirmative action under the NEP. Terrence Gomez and K.S. Jomo have pointed out that most Malay businessmen wanted state intervention to preserve their special privileges. They contended that such Bumiputera capitalists were rent-seekers rather than genuine entrepreneurs. They regarded the activities of these Bumiputera capitalists as unproductive and a hindrance to economic development.[ii] The Najib administration in its failed attempt to implement the New Economic Model admitted to the scourge of political patronage and rent-seeking behavior of these political-economic elite.[iii] The National Economic Advisory Council (“NEAC”) in its publication “The New Economic Model for Malaysia Part 1” stated as follows:

Ethnic-based economic policies worked but implementation issues also created problems. The NEP has reduced poverty and substantially addressed inter-ethnic economic imbalances. However, its implementation has also increasingly and inadvertently raised the cost of doing business due to rent-seeking, patronage and often opaque government procurement. This has engendered pervasive corruption which needs to be addressed earnestly.”

Terence Gomez in his book “Minister of Finance Incorporated: Ownership and Control of Corporate Malaysia” has drawn attention to the disturbing development that control of corporate Malaysia has been taken over by the Government-Linked Investment Companies (“GLICs”) which included Khazanah Nasional Berhad, Permodalan Nasional Berhad, with the Ministry of Finance at the apex of the structure. Gomez has pointed out that the nexus involving politics and business has fundamentally shifted from UMNO politicians to the office of the Minister of Finance which was then concurrently held by the Prime Minister during the time of Najib Tun Razak.[iv] Gomez in a recent article “Patronage is king in new Malaysia” voiced his concern that under the Tun Mahathir administration, control of the GLICs have been removed from the Ministry of Finance and transferred to the newly created Economic Affairs Ministry while Khazanah Nasional was placed under the Prime Minister’s Department. At the Congress on the Future of Bumiputeras and the Nation, Tun Mahathir stressed the need to reinstitute the practice of selective patronage targeting Bumiputeras.[v] Gomez posed the question whether PH will carry out divestment of the GLICs businesses to create a new breed of powerful well-connected business groups, even oligarchs.     
Fallacious Racial Arguments
Racial politics is premised on the elite of the dominant racial group possessing political power to gain privileged access to scarce resources and benefits: property rights, jobs, scholarships, educational admissions, language rights, government contracts and development allocations. It is based on the argument that by the elite’s predominance, the elite is able to provide for those “included” in the dominant racial group while excluding those in the “Other” racial groups. It is only in this manner, so the argument goes, that members of the “in” group can be assured of improvement to their economic well-being and survival at the expense of the “Other.”

Scholars have explained that ethnic tensions are created by ethnic activists and political entrepreneurs making blatant ethnic appeals to outbid moderate politicians, thereby mobilizing members of their ethnic group, polarizing society and magnifying inter-ethnic dilemmas. Non-rational factors such as emotions, historical memories and myths create a vicious cycle that threatens to pull multi-ethnic societies apart.[vi] The political-economic elite have perpetuated these myths and fallacies to maintain their dominance and influence. They hijacked and abused the NEP and racial preferential policies for their personal gain while the objective of creating an independent Bumiputera entrepreneur class remains unrealized.

Racial Myths Debunked
The corruption, plundering and kleptomania exhibited by the previous BN regime have shattered the fallacies of racial politics. These political elite not only stole from the national coffers but also robbed the till of sacred institutions established to promote Bumiputera well-being such as FELDA, MARA, Tabung Haji and others. By their misconduct the myth that only ministers and government officials from UMNO or endorsed by UMNO can be trusted to take care of the Malays has been debunked. The deception sustained throughout the years that the personality, integrity and capability of the elected representative are not factors for consideration as long as he is a Malay from UMNO has also been fully exposed. The fiction that non-Malays cannot be trusted to take care of the Malays is being dispelled with the appointment of non-Malays as the Finance Minister, Attorney-General, Chief Justice and others. In the process, it is revealed those who benefited the most from the distrust, suspicions, hatred and fear amongst the various ethnic groups are the political-economic elite themselves while the largest group of the impoverished after 5 decades of the NEP continue to be the Malays and Bumiputeras. 

Centripetalism put into practice
The changeover from BN to PH have allowed PH elected representatives, government agencies and institutions to depoliticize ethnicity by resolving the people’s problems on cross-ethnic basis. Malay constituents can take their problems directly to their non-Malay PH elected representatives without having to go through the local UMNO division chiefs. The non-Malay constituents similarly can approach their Malay PH elected representatives without having MCA or MIC local leaders as intermediaries. The constituents enjoy the confidence that the matters are resolved on an objective basis and not subject to ethnic interests or considerations.  In this way politicians can take moderate positions that accommodate all ethnic groups and avoid extreme or divisive positions. In the process the politicians gain support from across the ethnic divide. This process is now endangered if ethnic extremists are allowed to take central stage again and the space for moderates diminishes.
Patching Up the Tattered Myths
On May 9, the Pakatan Harapan government was given a golden opportunity to restructure the policies putting an end to divisive racial politics. It was a chance of a lifetime to put right the growing inequality of income, wealth and well-being of Malaysians irrespective of race and religion, to enhance social cohesion, provide for all their right to flourish and live the life they value in dignity and restore the nation to its rightful global economic order. It was bought and paid for by the blood, sweat and tears of those who sacrificed their careers, reputation and freedom over 20 years, for some stretching back 40 years or more. 
It is therefore tragic that Tun Mahathir and the Pakatan Harapan government did not fully grasp the opportunity offered. Instead, Tun Mahathir and his administration have stopped at only changing the personalities. They have not gone further to carry out the much-needed reforms. Recent events show, Tun Mahathir does not fully embrace the Pakatan Harapan reform agenda. He has now embarked on a contest to win Malay support from UMNO and PAS by showing that Bersatu is a better champion of Malay rights. In doing so, Tun Mahathir is building a roof of Malay dominance to cover the Pakatan Harapan foundation of multi-racial and multi-cultural beliefs. Tun Mahathir is stitching back and patching up the tattered myths of racial politics. He is resuscitating the old political-economic elite and attracting new ones to come under the Bersatu umbrella. Tun Mahathir is now working to replace UMNO hegemony with a Bersatu hegemony:

·                 On 1st November 2018, Tun Mahathir defended the NEP and its racial preferential programme in opening the Congress on the Future of the Bumiputera and the Nation 2018. He defended the practice of awarding contracts by “direct negotiations” and to continue doing away with meritocracy;

·                 On 1st November 2018, Dato Sri Azmin Ali, the Economic Affairs Minister in his parliament winding-up speech during the debate on the 11th Malaysia Mid-Term Review said that the PH government will continue with the spirit of the NEP and to realize its objectives;

·                 On 23rd November 2018, in the wake of UMNO and PAS objections, the cabinet reversed its decision to ratify the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (ICERD). The decision left Gun Kut, a member of the United Nations committee member monitoring the implementation of ICERD dumbfounded. He says the cabinet decision makes Malaysia to be seen as accepting racial discrimination;

·                 By 15th December 2018, a total of 16 MPs have quit UMNO and Bersatu proposes to accept them into its fold. These defectors have not shown they have changed their political philosophy or shed their UMNO culture;

·                 On 29th December 2018, Tun Mahathir at the Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia’s 2nd General Assembly (the “Bersatu General Assembly”) hammered home the final nail in the coffin of multiracial politics and inclusive policies.

Tun Mahathir in his speech at the Bersatu General Assembly said the time has not yet come for multiracial political parties. Tun Mahathir reprised Malay fears of the other ethnic groups. He reminded the Malays that they would be left behind economically by the other races in their own motherland. He said the Malays need to hold on to political power to save their race. To retain their freedom. To do so, they have to unite behind Bersatu. They have to ensure the government is led by a Malay dominant party. The Malays need to sacrifice themselves for the greater good of their race and for their children’s future such as he is prepared to do, even to the extent of being called a racist.

Although, Tun Mahathir is asking the Malays to march to the beat of a different drummer, he is nevertheless, using the same ethno-nationalist drums beating out the same sounds of “blood and soil” that UMNO uses. In fact, Tun Mahathir pointed out in his speech, Bersatu is the UMNO of 2003.

Back on the Road to Serfdom and Mediocrity
It is undoubted that Tun Mahathir is sincere and earnest in his belief that social cohesion and addressing inequality amongst the different ethnic groups are to be achieved through the racial preferential policies of the NEP and Malay political dominance. There is, however, a viable alternative in the form of needs-based affirmative action and inclusive policies but these are not being taken up. Sadly, we are being taken back down the road to serfdom again. New Malaysia instead of being a society in search of excellence, will continue to perfect mediocrity. Instead of good governance and accountability, political patronage and rent-seeking will continue to thrive. Instead of social cohesion, there will be further social fragmentation, greater mistrust and deeper ethnic division among the citizens than before.

Dreams of equality and social justice have become another case of blowing in the wind. We nevertheless must soldier on in the struggle for justice and freedom. We only lose when we give-up. The original verse in “We Shall Overcome” becomes more relevant to Malaysians now. It is

“If in my heart I do not yield,
I do believe,
I shall overcome someday”

This article is the personal opinion of the author and is not to be taken as the position of the political party or of any groups or that this opinion is endorsed by them.

William Leong Jee Keen
Member of Parliament Selayang
28 January 2019

[i] Shamsul A.B, “The Economic Dimension of Malay Nationalism”

[ii] Gomez Edmund T and K.S. Jomo (1999), “Malaysia’s Political Economy: Politics, Patronage and Profits Cambridge University Press”

[iii] The New Economic Model Part 1 page 7

[iv] Edmund Terence Gomez, “Minister of Finance Incorporated: Ownership and Control of Corporate Malaysia.”

[v] Terence Gomez, “Patronage is king in new Malaysia” Malaysiakini 12 January 2019.

[vi] David A. Lake and Donald Rothchild, “Containing Fear: The Origins and Management of Ethic Conflict”

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Media Statement by:
William Leong Jee Keen
MP Selayang
25 December 2018

Amend the Federal Constitution to Prevent Defection by MPs

The Prime Minister, Tun Mahathir, in his interview on 20 December 2018, says he personally prefers a strong opposition and does not like a two-third majority in Parliament. Acting President, Dato Seri Mohamad Hasan, said on 21 December 2018 after chairing his first Supreme Council meeting that he proposed to restructure UMNO to stem the tide of party defections. By these statements the way is clear to change the laws to prevent defections by members of parliament. There is bipartisan support to attain the two-third majority required to repeal Article 48(6) of the Federal Constitution and to substitute it with a new provision to provide for the seat to be deemed vacated upon a member of parliament leaving the political party upon which he was elected.

There are two opposing views on anti-hopping laws. One strongly held view is that even in a first-past-the post system of election, a member of parliament who leaves the party on whose platform he was elected while holding on to the seat, has committed a fraud on the voters. Such an action is seen as making a mockery of the democratic process since it amounts to overturning the decision of the voters expressed at the general elections.

The opposing view is that the seat belongs to the voters, who want their representative to exercise his personal judgment on their behalf which means defecting if the representative believes that this is in the voters’ best interest. An often cited reason for defecting is that it is the party and not the elected representative which has changed its positions and policies. It is argued that by banning party defections it will increase the power of party bosses who are leading the party astray from its original objectives.

Whichever position one takes as to whether the seat belongs to the political party or the elected representative, there can be no argument that it belongs to the voters. Therefore, the only reasonable solution in a situation where the elected representative feels he has to leave his original party to join another or to be an independent, is to resign as a member of parliament and stand in the ensuing by-election to allow his constituents to decide. This cannot, presently, be done because Article 48(6) of the Federal Constitution provides that a member of parliament who resigns is disqualified from contesting for five years. Article 48(6) was inserted in the Federal Constitution in 1990 after Shahril Samad resigned as an UMNO MP and won the by-election as an independent.

It is time for New Malaysia to return the power to decide whether it is the party bosses or the elected representative that changed, back to the voters. This can be done by substituting Article 48(6) with a provision that provides as follows:

“The seat of a member of parliament shall become vacant if he ceases to be a member of, or resigns from or is expelled from the political party for which he stood in the election.”

Pending the amendment, the Pakatan Harapan component parties must not allow the 17 defecting UMNO or any other BN elected representatives to join their party. It is not whether they are corrupt or not but by accepting them as members or worse appointing them to be ministers or to be part of the Government, this will betray the voters’ decision to reject Barisan Nasional. Such acceptance will violate the trust and mandate given to Pakatan Harapan:
I a) It is against the principles set forth in the “Deklarasi Rakyat” in particular paragraph 37 that called on all Malaysians, irrespective of race, religion, politics, beliefs or party to save Malaysia through carrying out the necessary reforms by rejecting BN;

b) It betrays the trust given by the people to Pakatan Harapan which stated philosophy and purpose (page 11 PH Manifesto) is consistent with the concepts of Maqasid Syahriah (the Higher Objectives of the Syariah) to carry out a continuous agenda of reform guided by shared values such as knowledge, liberty, truth, social and economic justice, pride, civilization, unity, merit-based society, democracy and justice for all;

c)  It is going against the very ground Pakatan Harapan had called on the people to reject BN, which is that, although BN purportedly practice a political model called “consociationalism,” in reality it is one where BN’s political elites practice racial politics premised on dividing our society on racial lines to ensure the political elite is in power (Pillar 5 of the PH Manifesto page 102);

The people have given the mandate to Pakatan Harapan to save Malaysia by uniting the nation to create an inclusive society and to maintain the harmony of a multi-racial and multi-religious Malaysia. It is now up to Pakatan Harapan to show that it has the political will to do so. Let this amendment to the Federal Constitution be a Christmas Gift to save Malaysians from the anxiety that May 9 is not a false dawn. Let this amendment show Pakatan Harapan’s resolve as a 2019 New Year Resolution to make change a reality.
A Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.

William Leong Jee Keen
Member of Parliament for Selayang        

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Human Rights in Malaysia: Let's Focus on Commonalities Not Differences

Human Rights in Malaysia:
 Let’s Focus on Commonalities Not Differences

Human Rights in Malaysia
1.              I am pleased and honoured to have been given a chance to share my thoughts at Suhakam’s 2018 Human Rights Day Celebration on 9th December 2018. I wish to share those thoughts and expand on them in this article.

2.              On 10th December 2018, the World celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Unfortunately, 61 years after Malaya gained her independence and the formation of Malaysia in 1963, our country has yet to ratify the Declaration. Despite not ratifying the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Government spearheaded the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights.

3.              On 8th December 2018, taking the highest as 500,000 or the lowest at 50,000 (depending on whose estimate one takes to be more accurate, which, in any event is a substantial number of people) marched to Dataran Merdeka to hold a demonstration. It was to celebrate the Government’s decision not to ratify the International Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (“ICERD”).

4.              More important than whether we ratify the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or apply the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights, Malaysians must ask how do we, in our daily lives, deal with our fellow Malaysians?

5.              We respect the Federal Constitution, Article 153 on the special position of the Malays and natives of the States of Sabah and Sarawak and the legitimate interests of other communities in accordance with the provisions of that Article. We agree with the justification for the New Economic Policy which is to promote social cohesion and address inequality. We agree that we must help the Bumiputera break-out from the vicious cycle of poverty and address inequality under which they labour. On the same ground, can we then in good conscience leave behind the poor Indians, Chinese, Kadazans, Muruts, Dayak, Orang Asli and others? Can we allow those caught in the inequality traps languish in extreme deprivation because they are of a different ethnicity or religion or living in a rural or interior region? Do we respect each of our fellow Malaysian’s inherent dignity and worth as a human being or do we accept racial discrimination as part of our society’s norms? It appears after 61 years, we have not been able to reach agreement on these matters.

A New Government A New Approach
6.              We have a new government, let’s adopt a new approach. It is time we focus on our commonalities and not on our differences. We can then build from there.

Cairo Declaration of Human Rights
7.              How far apart are we? Let’s look at the first recital to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

“Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.”

8.              Now let us look at Articles 1(a) and (b) of the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights:

(a)           All human beings form one family whose members are united by their subordination to Allah and descent from Adam. All men are equal in terms of basic human dignity and basic obligations and responsibilities without any discrimination on the basis of race, colour, language, belief, sex, religion, political affiliation, social status or other considerations. The true religion is the guarantee for enhancing such dignity along the path to human integrity.

(b)           All human beings are Allah’s subjects and the most loved by Him are those who are most beneficial to his subjects, and no one has superiority over another except on the basis of piety and good deeds.”

9.              There are more ideas and concepts in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that are in common with the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights than there are differences. It’s bound to be because they are both about the same universal values.

10.          In answer to the argument that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are Western liberal concepts that are anathema to Asian values, Anwar Ibrahim in his keynote speech at the Asian Press Forum entitled “Media and Society in Asia” said way back on 2 December 1994:

If we want to speak credibly of Asian values, we too must be prepared to champion those ideals which are universal and which belongs to humanity as a whole. It is altogether shameful, if ingenious, to cite Asian values as an excuse for autocratic practices and denial of basic rights and civil liberties. To say that freedom is Western or unAsian is to offend our own traditions and forefathers who gave their lives in the struggle against tyranny and injustices. It is true that Asians lay great emphasis on order and society stability. But it is certainly wrong to regard society as a kind of false god upon whose altar the individual must constantly be sacrificed. No Asian tradition can be cited to support the proposition that in Asia the individual must melt into a faceless community.”

11.          In answer to the argument that non-ratification of the ICERD means Malay rights and Islam allows discrimination, it has been said there is no such thing as a racist Muslim. One is either a racist or a Muslim but never both. There is a beautiful passage in Surah [49] Al-Hujarat Verse 13:

O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other (not that you may despise each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).

12.          The Prophet unequivocally condemned tribalism or racial discrimination. It is reported by Abu Hurairah that the Messenger of Allah said:

Whoever fights under the banner of a man who is blind (to the cause for which he is fighting for), who raging for the sake of tribalism or calling for tribalism, or supporting tribalism, and is killed in this state will have died upon ignorance (jahiliyyah).”
Source: Sahih Muslim 4898, Grade: Sahih

Jubayr ibn Mut’im, one of the Companions reported the Prophet said:
“He is not one of us who calls for asabiyyah (tribalism/nationalism) or fights for asabiyyah, or who dies for asabiyyah.”
Sunah Abi Dawud 5121, Grade: Sahih

Therefore, Islam categorically forbids all forms of racial, national, tribal or ethnic superiority. The Quran and the Sunnah expressly forbids discrimination based on race, colour, language, ethnicity or nationality. Every human is a dignified and honoured being.

13.          Thus, it is not our Asian values, race, culture or religion that allows racial or any other form of discrimination but our own personal values. We need to have the courage to say it is wrong when discrimination is practiced by others. Therefore, it is up to each of us to muster the courage and to honestly open our hearts to know the other races better. If we can do so we will find that our God-given diversity is a blessing and not a curse. We can do this by starting a new discourse. It is unfortunate that the Speaker did not allow Anwar Ibrahim’s motion to be debated in Parliament on the Cabinet’s decision not to ratify the ICERD. It would have greatly assisted this public discourse which we must pursue for a new Malaysia. Anwar said it is important to have the debate to avoid any confusion amongst the people that Pakatan Harapan does not deny the position of Bahasa Malaysia, the position of Islam as the official religion of the Federation, loyalty to Malay Royalty and the special position of the Malays and Bumiputera. It is important to have a “juxtaposition of ideas.” The non-ratification of the ICERD does not mean that we accept racial discrimination. Justice requires the rejection of all forms of discrimination. (Hansard 6th December 2018 page 34-36).

14.          We can start rebuilding our society on the areas where we are on common ground. When we do so, we will find the differences become smaller. With goodwill and good faith, we can then bridge these differences. I suggest we work on three areas.

Inequality and Elite Capture
15.          Firstly, we must address inequality. Inequality is corrosive, it erodes human rights, negatively affects economic growth, it squanders talents, stifles social mobility and undermines the very foundation of society.

16.          If we take off our racial tinted lens, look through the haze and smoke of labels and emotional rhetoric, we will see who are those that benefit by our society being racked by inequalities, the breaking down of social cohesion and the tearing apart of our social fabric. They are the elites.

17.          Not one of the citizens and the governments of the 179 parties to the ICERD gain one cent or suffer any prejudice whether Malaysia ratifies the ICERD or not. Not one single Bumiputera household in the B40 is going to secure a privatization project or mega contract because of the non-ratification of the ICERD. Despite the NEP, inequality of income and inequality of wealth have been increasing. The rich are becoming richer and the poor poorer. Throughout the 47 years of the NEP, it is the elites who secured government contracts, projects, privatizations, concessions, being bailed out when things go wrong and turning from millionaires into billionaires. They are the ones who stand to gain by ethnic fractionalization and are now seeking to regain their powers of political patronage to maintain their contracts, profits and rents. 

18.          Elite capture of the BN Government allowed the elites to bend laws and policy choices in their favour. These enabled the elites to block reforms. They were able to perpetuate their positions leading to a vicious cycle of corruption at the expense of the majority. There is no trickle-down effect of the gains by the elites to the Bumiputeras or non-Bumiputeras. This caused the gap in wealth between the rich and the poor to increase.

19.          Even now, the elites are coalescing over the new political leadership in the hope of finding new hosts and cutting new deals.

20.          We can and must agree to avoid elite capture of the new government.

Unfettered Discretionary Power and Corruption
21.          Secondly, we must agree to put an end to corruption. Unfettered discretionary power and an opaque system for the admission of places in the universities, the selection for jobs and award of contracts have led to corruption. We all know that checks and balances to power and requirements for transparency and accountability are the foundations of good governance. There is a famous passage in the Federalists Paper No. 51 by James Madison in defense of proposed national constitution that would establish a structure of “checks and balances”:  

“If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government, which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.”

22.          We must restore the checks and balances and put in place transparent and objective criteria on procurement, selection and appointments to end political patronage and rent-seeking. In recent times some of our political leaders and government servants proved they are certainly no angels and a few are more mortal than others. The new Government may be made of sterner stuff but by bringing back checks and balances, we will deliver our politicians and government servants from the temptations of power.  

The Civil Service and Meritocracy
23.          The third is addressing political patronage in the civil service. UMNO/BN wanted a civil service committed to their political agenda and believed that party allegiance will ensure the successful implementation of their policies. It led to the politicization of the civil service. Promotion and advancement were based on political patronage. Those who were not prepared to play ball were put into cold storage or transferred out while the compliant had their tenure extended. Those concerned to protect their pensions and retirement benefits have to serve in silence while the national coffers were plundered.

24.          We must agree to reinstate meritocracy in the civil service where promotion and advancement is based on capabilities and performance not political patronage. The most able people will produce the best possible results. A country governed by the best and the brightest must surely be better than one that is not.

25.          It is important to restore the public service to its previous professional excellence so that the government can provide high quality education, affordable access to healthcare and public transport, provision of public services to ensure Malaysians enjoy substantive equal opportunities for advancement, transparency, accountability so that the political, social and economic human rights can come to fruition.

26.          The belief in human rights, respect for the inherent dignity and human worth cannot be achieved by the government pushing from the top down. It must come from the bottom up. It must be cultivated into our citizens that fundamental freedoms are basic to our individual well-being. It must be ingrained into our national consciousness that there is no place in our society for discrimination, hatred and bigotry. This must become our new national ethos otherwise there is no use in voting for change. Let’s stop marching and start talking.                

William Leong Jee Keen
MP Selayang
11 December 2018