Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Who Needs A Powerful PM When The Rakyat Has The Bargaining Chip?

After 22 years of a government led by a powerful and domineering prime minister, Malaysia, under the present PM's fractious tenure, has at last entered the age of maturity with the citizens (Rakyat) having a greater say in the government of this country. (Notwithstanding the fact that Ahmad Abdullah Badawi needed a wake-up call to walk the talk of reform).

This change in the country’s political consciousness was not achieved overnight on 8 March 2008 but after two decades of disillusionment and outrage over the many injustices that have happened before our eyes and ears. It was only after giving up hope in humanity and turning to God with our heart-felt prayers that we have seen a real change in the political climate. *

But now that the Rakyat, through the ballot box, has elected more elected representatives in Parliament who will protect their rights and their interests, do we really need another powerful prime minister (whether from the incumbent Barisan Nasional or from Pakatan Rakyat) in office?

Once the political system and the judiciary are cleaned up and reformed to become more transparent and accountable institutions, what we need are fairly intelligent, wise and responsible leaders who are able to steer the country out of the past and into a new future based on mutual respect and shared goals.

The new status quo after the 12th landmark elections is not political instability (contrary to FT's John Burton's article "Malaysia's Era of Political Stability Ends"). Neither is it whether Najib, Tengku Razaleigh or Anwar will be the next PM. The new status quo which every Malaysian citizen has to realise is that Malaysia today no longer needs a strongman to lead her when there is a God that cares for her people. In fact, the emergence of another powerful leader who steamrolls his way through the wishes of the citizens will be an unmitigated disaster, leading to more resistence from the Rakyat and ultimately real political turmoil.

Without putting hope in powerful and supreme leaders, we only have our goodwill, faith and intelligence to guide us. May William Shakespeare's prayer be fulfilled each day: "God shall be my hope, my stay, my guide, and lantern to my feet."

* Read Karim Raslan's article "Ceritalah: Christians in Malaysia"

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