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Friday, December 10, 2010

Let’s Get Our Act Together


Americk Sidhu

I have refrained from saying anything for some time now in the hope that matters would resolve themselves sooner rather than later. But this has not happened and I cannot see anything being done in the near future to rectify the situation. So consider this to be a much-needed prompt to PKR in particular and PR in general.

Please remember your successes in March 2008 were precipitated by the support of 50% of the voting population in this country who invested their future in you based on your promises of a better tomorrow for them and their children and their children’s children. Much work had to be done prior to the last GE to ensure you had a good opportunity of changing things for the better. Many people sacrificed much to ensure you had a fighting chance and with these sacrifices we gave you the mandate to begin the transformation of this nation. This is not something you should take lightly. It is a once in a lifetime deal not only for yourselves but for the entire diaspora of Malaysian citizenry, a great many of whom have placed a tremendous amount of trust in you to steer the Malaysian ship in the right direction and to rid the country of the cancerous malfeasance which has become endemic within the governing regime.

We want a brighter future and that is why we are all relying on you. That is why we supported your struggle and that is why we placed our trust in you. Do not let us down. You owe it to us to do the right thing and to do it now. We cannot afford to wait any longer to see how things develop (or be swept under the carpet in the hope they would be forgotten). That’s not how things are supposed to work in the new Malaysia we are trying to kick start. Reaction to a problem has to be immediate and decisive.

I have often enquired into the reason why Pakatan Rakyat had yet to form a Shadow Cabinet. I consider this fundamental and imperative in any opposition coalition worth its salt. It should have been set up from day one. We should have had a shadow Foreign Minister, a shadow Finance Minister, Defence Minister, etc., to monitor current government policy and to comment when necessary. We could have shown our political maturity by supporting good policy and hitting back at what we considered to be bad policy, but with our well thought out counter proposals.

Being in the opposition does not mean we have to incessantly hammer the government just to make life difficult for them. This is not a pub brawl. We should be able to use our heads a little and display some political sophistication in commenting intelligently on current government policy whether for or against it.

But we are unable to even begin doing this without a platform upon which we can work. At present what seems to happen is a mass slinging match every time some Government Minister makes a proposal, the purpose of which is to try and gain political mileage without any proper analysis of the merits of that proposal in a mature and appropriate way. Instead, all we get is a rabblerousing crowd of noisy Parliamentarians who are rewarded for their efforts by being ejected from the House not so infrequently. Admittedly there are times when this has been necessary and I concede that point.

When I questioned the lack of a Shadow Cabinet, this is the response I received:

“Well you know lah…it’s not like in Australia where there is funding for all this shadow stuff….here we have to do it all on our own. And besides, how do you expect us to set up a Shadow Cabinet….who will we place in it? If we place one fella, someone else will make noise and there will be internal fights between the parties and all that. So better we just leave it and sort it out once we get into government”.

My answer to this is very simple. How much does it cost to have a shadow Minister? All he has to do is monitor what is being planned on the other side of the fence and make a stand. If there is no funding just make the best of the situation. It is better than doing nothing at all.

Secondly, if you are unable to reach a consensus as to who is supposed to be a Minister in waiting when you are not yet in government, how on earth do you think this will get any easier once you are?

You have to prove to the people that you really are a “Government in Waiting” and that you will be able to hit the ground running once you take over. This is serious stuff and we need to know you are serious about this whole thing.

Which brings me to the recent PKR party elections?

Evidence has been presented that the polls were rigged. I am still waiting for an explanation from somewhere within the hierarchy. None has been forthcoming. If there was no rigging please come out and say so in no uncertain terms. Keeping quiet and hoping the issue will go away on its own is Barisan Nasional behavior. They have the monopoly on sweeping things under the carpet. This is NOT what the opposition is supposed to be about. Remember this transparency thing being bandied about?

Well the situation appears to be a little opaque at the moment. I for one would like to know whether the voting process was really democratic or was engineered to suit the wishes of those in power. I don’t know the answer. I have heard the accusations but I have not heard the rebuttal. What am I supposed to think?

And because of all this, both PKR and PR have lost one of their most loyal sons upon whom much hope had been placed. There was really no reason for this to have happened. Instead, sour grapes and Trojan horses have permeated the battlefield. This, however, is a battle which never should have begun in the first place if things had been done properly. It is a battle no one will win. What a waste. It is not a question of being a sore loser because Zaid wasn’t losing. From my reading of the situation, he was totally unimpressed with the way things were being done, which ran contrary to the basic principles of fair play; a supposed cornerstone of all that you stood for. Can you blame him? It boils down to a question of principles. Nevertheless I live in hope that bridges may be mended.

Accepting criticism is part and parcel of politics. Accept it, take it on board, digest it, assimilate it and then act on it in an appropriate manner. Logical and pragmatic thought processes are imperative if you want to out manoeuver the enemy. Strategic planning is absolutely essential and this can only be achieved if it is devoid of emotion, chicanery and unnecessary rhetorical posturing.

Just remember you have all been elected to do one job and one job only. That is to wrest power from the government and to ensure that you run this country as promised. This is what we have entrusted you with. It is a formidable undertaking but certainly achievable with the right frame of mind and proper policies put into place.

Which brings me to the “Peoples’ Declaration” (see link below) painstakingly prepared a number of years ago by some very eminent personalities which I thought had been the blueprint for the entire opposition structure. Why are we not constantly referred to this very important document to remind us where we are heading and why we are heading there? Why has this document never been ratified by the opposition coalition?

Please read its contents. You will understand why it is so important. It is basically the constitution upon which the entire opposition philosophy is supposed to be based and we don’t ever hear of it. This I find very strange indeed. Shouldn’t it be the blueprint for all opposition policy?

So let’s get our act together. There is no time to waste. I know deep down inside you are good people but you have to manifest this constantly in a format easily understandable by the masses. Consistently sound and basic ideals have to be portrayed in a fashion that leaves no doubt in the minds of the populace that what you preach is what you practice.

Please take all of this on board in the spirit in which it is written. Accept the criticism for the purpose it is intended and that is to ensure the right path is adhered to and that the aims and aspirations of all those who support you are maintained and perpetuated for the common purpose of creating a much better Malaysia. We deserve this so don’t let us down.

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