OPINION

Datuk-Dr-Denison-Jayasooria_profile

PROF. DATUK DR. DENISON JAYASOORIA

Prof. Datuk Dr. Denison Jayasooria is Principal Research Fellow at the Institute of Ethnic Studies, UKM since 2008 and is a commentator of national affairs. He is a member of Damansara Utama Methodist Church and coordinator of the DUMC’s Citizens Network for a Better Malaysia (CNBM).

4 May 2018

One aspect of making an intelligent judgement of who to vote for is the candidate. We can do a review of the GE14 candidates, especially the ones contesting at your constituency for the parliament and state seats. Here, we need to look at who they are, their credentials in terms of their qualifications, their past working experiences especially on community matters and finally on their character if they are men and women of moral standing in society.

However if there are some questions in this respect, we need to review what is it in the past and how it was handled and settled. I do believe in second chances especially if one has been open about the past, and who has now clearly stated what he or she will do in the future given an opportunity.

COMPARE ELECTION MANIFESTOS

Another clear benchmark for making an evaluative judgment is on the election manifestos of the two major political groupings on what they promise to do if elected. Both political coalitions – Barisan National (BN) and Pakatan Harapan (PH) have both launched their election manifestos. Both political groups have made many promises, including Pakatan Harapan to do away with the goods and services tax, tolls and PTPTN educational loans; and Barisan Nasional to increase BRIM allocations, push up minimum wages to RM1,500, and reduce broadband subscription fees to name a few.

It is very clear from the comparison between the two that Barisan Nasional’s manifesto is lacking in institutional and structural reforms. Pakatan Harapan has indicated some of the major reforms which will transform the landscape of human rights and good governance. These include the independence of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Agency (MACC) and the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM); the reform of parliament to strengthen parliamentary oversight and the introduction of parliamentary select committees; and significant curtailment of the excessive powers of the Prime Minister and other aspects of the Prime Minister’s Department. These are major including the promises on democratic freedoms and repealing of all the major legislation currently restricting fundamental liberties. This is any human rights advocators dream list.

Barisan Nasional too has some reforms proposed but not very drastic transformation of the political landscape. These promised reforms are for the setting up a Fair Works Commission, introducing a political financing law, establishing an ombudsman to investigate public complaints and establishing a special non-Muslim unit and also a special non-government organisation (NGO) unit in the Prime Minister’s Office.


Surprisingly, both manifestos are weak on the reform of local government. While local democracy was a major agenda of the opposition in the previous general election, both sides this time around do not call for the introduction of local government elections. This is major shift away from local government elections in the manifestos.

“As Christian citizens of Malaysia, we must ensure we live by high ethical and moral standards in society and call upon our political leaders and aspiring ones to do so in an open and transparent way.”

Prof. Datuk Denison Jayasooria

CIVIL SOCIETY CONCERNS ON GOOD GOVERNANCE

Governance, Integrity, Accountability and Transparency (GIAT), a coalition of NGO’s promoting democracy, human rights and fighting corruption has offered a five-point good governance agenda for politicians to adopt in GE14. They made attempts to meet political party leaders for their endorsement of the good governance agenda.

These five are useful reform agendas which we could use:

First, endorse legislation that will affirm the independence of institutions, most importantly the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and the Attorney General’s Chambers.
Second, enact a national Freedom of Information law, review the Official Secrets Act 1972 and adopt open data principles.
Third, require by law that all cabinet members, members of Parliament, elected officials and senior public officials publicly declare their assets.
Fourth, improve participatory democracy within all levels of government, including budgeting processes and holding local council elections.
Fifth, require by law that all political parties publicly declare all forms of income and expenditure.

As Christian citizens of Malaysia, we must ensure we live by high ethical and moral standards in society and call upon our political leaders and aspiring ones to do so in an open and transparent way. Knowing the nature of the fallen human being we must institute checks and balances through public accountability and transparency.
Let us pray for the nation, pray for all of us to use our wisdom to choose both members of parliament and state assembly election officials who will truly serve the nation and be loyal to the King and country.

Datuk-Dr-Denison-Jayasooria_profile

PROF. DATUK DR. DENISON JAYASOORIA

Prof. Datuk Dr. Denison Jayasooria is Principal Research Fellow at the Institute of Ethnic Studies, UKM since 2008 and is a commentator of national affairs. He is a member of Damansara Utama Methodist Church and coordinator of the DUMC’s Citizens Network for a Better Malaysia (CNBM).