Don’t be copycat of BN, don tells PH

This article first appeared in Borneo Post online on May 15, 2018

The Pakatan Harapan (PH) government must not behave like ‘Barisan Nasional (BN) 2.0’ by arresting everyone that it thinks will pose threat to the newly elected ruling coalition.

Penang Institute fellow and head of political studies Dr Wong Chin Huat told The Borneo Post that BN did not allow competition and naturally, the coalition became less competitive and weak. Penang Institute fellow and head of political studies Dr Wong Chin Huat told The Borneo Post that BN did not allow competition and naturally, the coalition became less competitive and weak.

“The BN system did not allow any form of competition so eventually, they became uncompetitive,” he said on the sidelines of ‘Keeping the Promise of Reform’ forum, conducted by Jeffrey Cheah Institute on South East Asia, at Sunway University yesterday.

BN, he added, was forced to adopt questionable tactics to remain superior, while their rival was growing from strength to strength.

“If PH becomes like BN – a grand coalition that catches (arrests) everyone else – you would not only have opposition from outside, but also bigger trouble from within as they increase seats and gerrymander the constituency; this is not good for the country,” he added.

When speaking at the forum earlier, Wong stressed that reform ‘is not about suppressing politics but about making politics work, in the same way as making the economy work’.

He said making reform work is very much about understanding and responding with right incentive to the human nature.

“We are not getting the dynamics right, PH will end up with bad policies again.”

Wong also stressed that democracy ‘is not about building heaven on earth, with angels in and devils out but about finding ways for flawed humans driven by interest to get things done in most inclusive compromise’.

“I think we need to be pragmatic. Reform is not about PH replacing BN, but to transcend BN which behaves like ‘One Party State’.

“To prevent PH from becoming another BN or BN 2.0, we need to begin understanding what BN is.

“The difference between Malaysia and China is, China’s being more honest in being a one-party state. What I mean by one-party state is suppression of external competition – selective prosecution and discrimination,” he added, pointing out that PH-ruled states must not adopt BN style of not giving funds or allocation to the opposition.

He also noted PH is now moving towards a coalition ‘a la BN’ by fixing seats according to party which at times, resulted in a very highly capable and qualified leader being sidelined just because the seat that he or she had worked on was allocated to another component party.

He said there is no mechanism to allow the parties to compete among themselves for the right to contest based on previous election results, causing the same party to continue fielding its candidates – only to lose again and again.

Wong said to overcome the defeat, BN was forced to add extra seats and amend constituency boundaries unconstitutionally just to win the election.

Meanwhile, newly-elected Simpang Renggam MP and former assistant professor at the Department of Political Science – International Islamic University of Malaysia, Dr Maszlee Malik, stressed that people had huge expectation of PH.

“I believe in Malay tsunami. In order to achieve Malay tsunami, we must convince the people that they can do the impossible,” he said.

Maszlee stressed that PH needs BN to do checks and balances to deliver the best services to the people and make the new government more accountable and feel monitored by Malaysians.

He appealed to Umno leadership not to jump ship and despair over the defeat, but to become a strong opposition so that PH would become better and Umno itself even better to win the hearts of the people.

He also appealed to civil society to stick to its role, to check on PH the way they had been finding fault with BN and insisted that draconian laws must go.

Maszlee also hoped that there would be more room for freedom under PH rule by creating a more responsible media with professional journalism ethics.

“Somebody was saying that Malaysiakini should replace Bernama, I said ‘no no no’. I would like Malaysiakini to remain as Malaysiakini and Bernama to remain as Bernama; but what we can do is we give more freedom to Utusan, TV3, Bernama, Malaysiakini to support whatever party they want to support, but with professionalism and responsibility under a proper press council – we are going to do that soon,” he said.

Maszlee also stressed that PH should give more room to academic freedom, revealing that he was a victim of non-freedom in the academic world.

“That will be my pledge to my academia fellows that I will strive for academic freedom. I have told the top leadership – please give me the honour to move the motion to abolish that draconian AUKU (University Acts) acts,” he said.

Jeffrey Cheah Institute on South East Asia president Prof Woo Wing Thye, former Institute of Democracy and Economic Affairs (Idea) chief executive Wan Saiful Wan Jan, former Kluang MP Liew Chin Tong, and Merdeka Centre programme director Ibrahim Suffian were also present.

Source: Borneo Post Online