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Saturday, 20 June 2009

A Union Government for Malaysia

who is the Hun?


My earlier articles on the idea of unity government were admittedly, cynical takes. They were meant to provoke and debunk the ideas by political mountebanks and charlatans.

Ini perkara jual minyak, kita sudah lali. Bila hendak mampus, baru cakap mengenai kerajaan perpaduan. Bila bontot sudah panas, kedudukan sudah terancam, kuasa mahu hilang, kita mahu bersatu. Besatulah semua perompak! Kita tidak ada apa apa yang akan hilang, kecuali kepuraan kita.

The basic objective of a union government aka unity government is to form a government consisting of all political parties so that everyone is on the same page. That will ensure everything meant for the wellbeing of the people are carried out quickly. Probably not all, as any party which does not have any presence in parliament does not have grounds to be included.

A union government is usually formed out of a need to act as a united entity to overcome an extreme crisis. A splendid historical example is the case of Canada of the First World War.

During the First World War the conservative government of Canada faced a serious problem in recruiting men to join the army. French Canadians refused to join in the war fearing discriminations and oppression by English speaking Canadians. The French speaking Canadians were led by a man known as Henri Bourassa. They were mostly centred at Quebec. The opposition party in Canada at that time was the Liberal party. The leader of the Conservative party invited Liberal party to form a union government so that they could overcome the conscription problem.

The liberal party refused. The liberals did not want to join the Union Government fearing such communion would only trigger off a wave of extreme nationalism in Quebec under the leadership of Bourassa. Such an outcome would inevitably result in a demand for referendum to determine whether Quebec should still remain a Canadian entity.

The leader of the Conservatives managed to persuade and entice a number of Liberals to join. They were able to defeat the Liberal party and the French Canadians and enforced the conscription act.

During the Second World War, the conservatives (those consisting of original conservatives plus renegade liberals) wanted to form another Union Government like that of WW1. They failed, and the Liberals won.

The main points:-

  • There was a war- a crisis of the highest order
  • The were problems encountered by the ruling national government to overcome a certain problem associated with the war efforts- namely conscripting people into the army.
  • Invite the biggest opponent which stands in the way of solving the effort.
  • The union had the collateral benefit of extinguishing a minor rival- in Canada in the form of Henri Bourassa.


Union Government in Malaysia?

In Malaysia, its own First World War was the racial clashes of 1969. That provided the platform and the window of opportunity to include PAS into our own Union government. The original PERIKATAN Party was expanded to include PAS and many other smaller political parties. Dato Asri the leader of PAS then was given a cabinet post as were some other PAS leaders. Nik Aziz himself served as Parliamentary Secretary if I am not mistaken. Hassan Adli was another. It was on that rare occasion that Nik Aziz wore a suit .

Many PAS leaders felt the BN of 1974 was the gift that the UMNO Greeks brought along. PAS was essentially reduced to a baggage carrying porter. The brief intermission allowed UMNO later to disembowel PAS from within. They lost Kelantan and the Party was thrown into disarray for many years.

Nik Aziz has never forgotten that nightmarish episode that PAS went through. He is adamant this political trickery shall never be repeated. He has not forgotten the fact that PAS has been able to retain Kelantan precisely because it chose to remain itself.

The leadership of PAS under Haji Hadi and Nasharudin Mat Isa has turned the party into an almost perfect substitute for UMNO. That being so, it does not matter where Malay votes go to. They still go to a party with similar objectives, albeit anchored on different principles and rationale.

The biggest hurdle to the formation of one Malaysia is UMNO's inability to secure the trust of non Malays. The results of the 12th GE have shown, UMNO's current ride-along partners have no more credibility. Most of them have become spent forces. The ones retaining their vitality are the traditional opposition parties- DAP and the opposition parties in East Malaysia.

If the lesson from the Union Government model of WW1 Canada is heeded, then the proposed Union Government that this present government wants, should try to include DAP not PAS. That would certainly gain the trust of those non Malays who stood by DAP. DAP will refuse, because they will not want to compromise their political objectives and water down its drive.

Many in PAS object to this Union Government idea proposed by UMNO for the same reasons DAP will steadfastly refuse. They do not want to compromise their political principles nor water down their drive.

It is a matter of strategic interest for Malays to allow PAS to remain as it is- unadulterated in its fundamentals. It fights on the basis of religious principles. As long as PAS remains as an alternative Malay based party, it provides the emotional and security insurance for Malays. PAS must recognise this- if anything were to happen to UMNO, it stands to derive the most profit in terms of shifting alliance to the party. It retains its credibility precisely by being its own self and not a junior partner to UMNO.

It is also a strategic interest for all those who love UMNO to discourage PAS to form a union with UMNO. That possibility will raise UMNO's own belligerence and fortify its refusal to undertake radical internal changes. A union will only delay the inevitable spread of decaying cancer from within. But if UMNO were to face its own continued crises, it will be forced to carry out changes. Undertaking serious, fundamental changes on its own political ethos will save itself from increasing credibility deficit.

UNION GOVERNMENT FOR WRONG REASONS NOT GOOD.

But if the unity government being bandied around is for the benefit of (a) prolonging the hold by the dominant party, delaying its demise and (b) a means for a backdoor entry to get political power, then the whole idea of a unity government is a political farce.

This idea about unity government was mooted by Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah in 2008. TRH had not an insignificant part in building up Malaysia and he is indeed qualified to speak about a unity government. His legacy in terms of economic institutions to help out Malays is varied and many.

As a significant stakeholder of this country, he is justifiably concerned about the future of this country. He cringes at the incompetence of the leadership. He is horrified at the shameless submission to providence where reasonable people hope problems will solve themselves.

But that, YM Tengku, is expected- after years of being conditioned by UMNO culture of patronage, rent seeking, subsidies, we know best kind of attitude, a shallow talent pool of leadership confined within the vicious circle of blood ties and bequeathed status- a different outcome would have been extraordinarily strange.

One means to guarantee a future at all is the formation of a unity government. The premises by which he based his ideas of a unity government couldn't be more different than that expounded by political careerists.

11 comments:

kuldeep 20 June 2009 at 09:52  

If the Unity Govt actually gets on the road,the question is whether PAS will be Umnofied or UMNO Pasified?
And will the MCA,DAP,Sarawak etc wants their own Unity party?All in all,the bottom line doesn't seem to be too good for the rakyat.

I believe this is all BN's hot air media manoeuvrings..and PAS may just be street smart enough to capitalise.

Btw..Tg Agas ground breaking today?Will Dato be there?

Eyes Wide Open 20 June 2009 at 10:23  

Dato

With the political situation in this country being what it is, and with the level of leadership displayed by the BN, I would say that a viable unity govt is impossible.

There is just no acceptable PM material within the ranks of the current ruling government. And I highly doubt the top dogs will give up their positions to allow YM Ku Li to become PM and pick his Cabinet of choice!

In other words, Malaysia is screwed until GE13, whenever that may be...

walla 20 June 2009 at 15:29  

A: 'It was doomed from the start.'

B: 'Why do you say that, A?'

A: 'Simple, if you want to talk about a unity government, that means a government which unites, doesn't it? So the question is unite who? From the way it was publicly mentioned, it remains apparent the objective was only to unite the Malays. And that's because the non-Malays were not even mentioned in passing. It's as though they don't count for anything in the minds of the two parties that are Umno and PAS when they think and talk about government. And that, my friend, is the clearest indictment of the malay brand of leadership of this land.'

B: 'But it's because the two parties are Malay parties, A.'

A: 'Then don't use the term unity government. When you say government, it means government of and for and by all, doesn't it? You can't govern for one race only, can you? Call it the new united malay front or something, not a botha government.'

B: 'You mean a botak government?'

A: 'No, a botha government, as in apartheid.'

B: 'Your pun is not lost on me, A. Too many people have concluded that Umno has been governing by race. That's why they had lost so heavily. Because even their own members are fed-up with that way of doing things. And everyone knows their component buddies have been left out of too many decisions before. That also explains the sentiments behind the MCA poll.

Come to think of it, the way this unity government thing was started was either based on racial design or out of sheer desperation, or both.'

A: 'For PAS, it was also sheer ambition; tasting victories, they wanted more. For Umno, it was a means to stem the hemorrhage of their membership. And for both, as you say, it was again all about race. The bottom-line is again race.'

B: 'Indeed, if they had from the very beginning called in all the other component parties on both sides to join in the discussion, then there would not be just a common base paved up to talk amicably about common matters of national interest but also a platform to provide food for thought on the possibility of distributing federal funds across political lines so that the rakyat won't feel their welfare and the development of the states are being sacrificed for political mileage. You know, A, this is already the twenty-first century. There is no place for feudalism and primacy of political power. There is also no place for defining things like sovereignty and national loyalty on the basis of race. And that's because there has been a shift in the rakyats' perception of what politics should be. In the past it was separated from economics. Now, it's just one of different ways to uplift economics to help them. And when they saw how politics had been used to subversively uplift the economics of some only, they were naturally incensed.'

walla 20 June 2009 at 15:29  

A: 'So it remains to ask why suddenly this unity government thing appeared? Why was it broached?

I think it was raised because for the first time in Umno history, its top guns have come out acknowledging and upholding decency towards the non-Malays. And that rankled the zealots in the camp of the Malays in both Umno and PAS, you know, people like the Utusan group and so on in Umno, and the islamic state proponents in PAS. So when they also saw new moves to liberalize the services sector, create a One Malaysia, reconcile inter-faith matters, and elevate the english language while guaranteeing the vernacular cultures and languages, it all came to a head for those groups. They just felt threatened.'

B: 'If that be so, A, then the question should be whether the sense of being threatened is justified or not. And i don't mean justified today, tomorrow or next week but for the next one hundred years. What do those special people see in their minds a hundred years ahead? How do they see their fears play out then? Do they even realize how precarious is the national condition and situation for all today, Malays and non-Malays, whose resolution requires solutions that transcend their blighted and parochial views? Those are the questions they should ask themselves, as they must for why the rakyat had voted the way they did.'

A: 'And, just as you, I think the rakyat will vote even more so, going forward. For too long, the politicians of both sides thought the rakyat would vote for them, respectively. But as the respect was lost from one fiasco after another fracas after another indignant spat, the rakyat woke up and started to vote...but only for themselves. You have not a unity government but a united rakyat. The governments practised them-vs-us. The rakyat returned the compliment with us-vs-them. A new equilibrium and balance was formed overnight.'

B: 'But that's just semantics and polemics, A. You're sounding like a politician yourself.'

A: 'No, B, that's where you're wrong. It's neither semantics nor polemics. When the TNB chairman says he can't cut rates anymore because half his revenue has to go to the IPPs, it's not even flowery language. When your malay neighbour has to vacate and go live in a cheaper place because he can't afford his monthly electricity bill anymore, it's not politico-talk. It's just plain hard-hitting reality.'

B: 'We need transparency on top of accountability, A.'

A: 'My neck's suddenly stiff thinking out all these ramifications, B; by any chance, yours too? i know a place where, you know...oh, never mind.'

B: 'But i am incorruptible, A. You already know that, don't you?'

A: 'Hah! you, incorruptible? That'll be the day.'

Anonymous,  20 June 2009 at 17:58  

As usual you are right.

The true partner for UMNO is actually people like DAP and Hindraf.

Not PAS. Can you imagine what this country would look like if UMNO joins with PAS and say the non Malays goes even more solidly behind PKR and DAP as a result.

UMNO needs one thing to be relevant.

It needs a loss at Federal level at PRU 13.

Then and ONLY then will it change.

Change for them is now just lip service and nice slogans, nothing else.

What has really changed between the time of Badawi and the time of Najis now?

NOTHING!

Nik 20 June 2009 at 18:36  

Dato'

Racial Unity or Racial Superiority has been exploited by Despots to mobilize ill educated or ill informed citizens to be used as cannon fodder in war...

This is more so in past centuries where Hand to Hand Combat was the order of the day... Those with larger Armies stand a better chance to win (although not all the time, due to ingenuous generals).

Hitler promoted german unity via racial superiority to mobilize the german population and attack his neighbours...

Genghiz Khan united the mongol tribes to raid all his neighbours and subjugate them...

Countless other large and small examples showed that Racial Unity or Superiority serves no useful purpose except to subjugate others but eventually lead to the eventual demise of that particular race...

In this day and age where we no longer have hand to hand combat and the existence or promotion of democracy which strives for individual freedom makes the idea rather archaic.

No surprises when one looks at the Archaic Personalities involved in proposing this idea. Of course the recipient will exploit their naivety to the Utmost!

We Should Look at America that has survives Centuries as a World Leader through RACIAL DIVERSITY.

America has always Pride Itself in "STRENGTH IN RACIAL DIVERSITY"..

Suci Dalam Debu 21 June 2009 at 01:10  

Union of thieves and would-be thieves?

If you love Malaysia, then you should do all you can to make sure that Malaysia has a viable two party system, BN & PR.

It would be good for the future of the country. We don't want to end up like Zimbabwe, right?

For far too long, Malaysians have been brainwashed that there is no alternative to BN.

Peter,  21 June 2009 at 03:08  

If a unity govt is formed between UMNO and PAS, it would spell the end of both parties. why?

When this happens, it would be seen be non Malays as racial and would wipe out all non Malay parties in BN.

Now the PKR is also a Malay majority party and would get enough percentage of Malay votes + the solid non Malay votes + DAP solid supporters would see the PAS + UMNO unity govt become opposition.

The PAS + UMNO would be seen as a Malay party but the PKR+DAP would be seen as a multi racial party with Malays as dominant partner taking care of all Malaysians.

How can a PAS + UMNO govt survive dependng only on split Malay votes?

PKR needs only 20-30% of the Malay support would be enough to form the govt with DAP and other parties in Sabah and Sarawak.

So are we so sure that PAS + UMNO can form a govt with running dogs parties in BN are wiped out?

.@blogger.com 21 June 2009 at 09:37  

Unity Govt. just a dream... or an issue created for political support. Not more and not less.Politician come with this issue, talk about it but the leave it behind......we should also stop discussing on this issue ~bh

chapchai 21 June 2009 at 17:53  

....and do not forget the voters in Sarawak. The Dayaks and Chinese there will not feel comfortable with a PAS/UMNO unity government. How will the BN parties there react?

Anonymous,  21 June 2009 at 18:37  

JITRA, June 21 - Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir said today it would be difficult to realise the "1Malaysia" concept if the Malays are not united.

Does this mean that BN will abandon the 1Malaysia concept if PAS refuses to cooperate on the Unity Govt?And the main stumbling block seems to be Nik Aziz.This is a and landmark & historic issue >> the failure of an initiative by a party is attributable to the reluctance of the opposition to cooperate.We should throw all the PAS leaders in jail for obstruction and destroying our future.

This is indeed out of the box thinking and if I had the vision earlier,I could have won a few Olympic gold medals ( if my opponents listens to me).

KJ...pls go and claim ur rightful cabinet post.

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