Josh Hong’s article dated 11 May 2012 on Malaysiakini is referred.
Josh’s views on Tunku Abdul Aziz vis-a-vis Bersih 3.0 echo those of the leaders and the majority of the supporters of the
rally. They are entitled to hold their views and for that they should be respected.
But for those like Tunku Abdul Aziz, who respectfully disagreed, respect must
be duly accorded too.
I certainly agree with the basic
premise that the authorities should have allowed and facilitated Bersih’s
gathering at Dataran Merdeka. That the authorities chose not to however was
very much expected. What was less expected was the authorities’ willingness to
offer five alternative venues. Thus, like Tunku Abdul Aziz, I too would have
preferred Bersih to choose among these alternatives and hold the gathering in a
more controlled surrounding. In fact, I would imagine had the leaders of Bersih
been a bit more creative, they could have asked for permission to use all five venues!
Attracting a crowd to fill-up all the venues would not have been a problem.
Most people agree that they are
some serious weaknesses in how elections are conducted in this country. Most
people would agree too that the police were overly aggressive in their actions
against participants of the rally. I have no doubt too that there were agent
provocateurs involved but again, the point that I wish to reiterate, all these
were entirely expected. Hence, I personally find Tunku Abdul Aziz stinging view
that the organizers of Bersih were partly responsible for the violence that occurred
during the rally absolutely justified.
Regretfully, instead of applauding
Tunku Abdul Aziz for his independent view, his party the DAP chose to censure
him. Joseph Lieberman, a senior United States senator once
famously said, “Why should we toe the party line?” Senator Lieberman, although a Democrat, had on
numerous occasions expressed opinions and voted against his party’s wishes even
on major issues like the war in Iraq and President Barack Obama’s healthcare
reform. His independent tendencies even compelled him to openly endorse
John McCain of the Republican Party instead of Obama in the last US
Likewise, when then British Prime
Minister Tony Blair was seeking support for Great Britain’s participation to
invade Iraq, more than a hundred Members of Parliament from his own Labour Party voted against
his motion at the British House of Commons. These rebel MPs openly demanded for
more evidence to justify Britain’s participation in the war.
These are examples of how a mature
democracy should be. To toe the party line is indeed important but not
necessarily mandatory. A party member cannot just simply agree for the sake of
agreeing. If the individual cannot bring himself to agree with a stand taken by
the party, he should explain why he disagrees. Tunku Abdul Aziz did just that
and if indeed that was the reason why his senatorship was not renewed, I feel that the DAP
is no better than Barisan Nasional in the way it handles internal dissent. After all, when MIC’s S. Sothinathan was suspended for three months for criticising the government in parliament seven years ago, the DAP and
other opposition leaders lamented about how unfair they thought the decision
If we really do aspire to be a country
with the best democracy, internal dissent should not be considered a crime and
the ‘perpetrator’ should never face retribution. Worth emulating is President
Obama’s treatment of Senator Lieberman. After soundly defeating John
McCain for the US presidency, President Obama, though mindful of Senator
Lieberman’s criticism against him throughout the campaign, personally ensured
that Senator Lieberman’s seniority and committee chairmanship at the US Senate
were not affected. Senator Lieberman, in return continued to work in tandem
with the Obama administration on various issues that they both agreed with.
That is the level of trust and cooperation that many of us in Malaysia would
like to see. If indeed governance and leadership is all about agreeing with the
party and its leaders on every single issue, why do we need democracy?
Note: Tunku Abdul Aziz has since resigned from the DAP.
I have read for many years about Tun Dr. Mahathir’s deep resentment and suspicion against Singapore. From his writings in The Early Years t...
(Berikut adalah artikel saya yang diterbitkan di laman web Centre for Policy Initiatives pada 12 Ogos 2010 di bawah tajuk ' Masalah kura...
Abu Hamid Muhammad al-Ghazali was born in Tus, Persia in 450 H (1058 AD). During his lifetime, he acquired one of the most distinguished pos...