|Things being exaggerated, says expert
Kota Kinabalu: Constitutional law expert Prof. Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi thinks the sentiment for political change in Malaysia is being exaggerated.
He noted that for 51 years, the Alliance and Barisan Nasional (BN) rode like a Colossus, towering over every other party.
“They could do what they like, when they like, as and when they like, in whatever manner they like. Now things are slightly different, so there is confusion about how to handle this situation,” he rationalises.
Based on objective standard, Prof. Faruqi describes BN’s garnering of 63 per cent votes in the March 8 election as a very handsome majority. “The Government received more than 50 per cent of the popular vote.”
Making a comparison, he points out: “If in England, the Government received more than 50 per cent of the popular vote, you know, the leader would be painted in the most laudatory way.
“Governments in England come to power with 37 per cent popular vote because of their electoral system. Since the Malaysian Government received more than 50 per cent popular vote (i.e. it received 63 per cent in the Lower House), on objective world standard, this is a very handsome majority.”
Likening the BN to boxer Mike Tyson, he said the reason everybody is saying BN is weak is because Tyson was so used to knocking everybody down.
“But now Tyson doesn’t have two-thirds majority. So people are saying it’s weak. It’s a perceptionÉperceptions are important.”
He said the call by certain leaders for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to step down is due to internal politics.
“It has to do with Malay traditions. They called upon Tun Mahathir also to step down when he won by only 42 votes. But he said ‘No, I won, even if I win by one vote’.
Referring to the Labour Party in England, Prof. Faruqi said the party used to have internal disagreements all the time.
“But here BN was like a Colossus, nobody dared say anything. Basically, we are on unchartered terriroty. That’s why people are making conclusions which are not necessarily right, for example, imminent fall of the Government, resignation of the Prime Minister. I think on world standards, these are uncalled for.
“Even during Blair’s time, after the debacle in Iraq, many members of the Labour Administration and Cabinet Ministers were saying ‘we need a leadership change’. The present Prime Minister Gordon Brown used to ask for Blair’s agreement to be kept. Apparently, there was an agreement that he must step down. But Blair didn’t step down.”
The professor noted that when Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said something, people started to say ‘Oh, this is a sign of crumbling, that the Government is crumbling’.
“I think on world standards, it is normal in politics,” he said. On whether political crossovers are unethical, Prof Faruqi says much depends actually on the motives in question.
“These are surely unethical unless you cross over on principles but not personal benefit.” He recalled that Sir Winston Churchill crossed from the Conservative Party to the Liberal Party and then went back to the Conservative Party.
“I’d say that is principled. But if you go because you are promised an office or money or ambassadorship, then obviously, it’s unethical.”
On India’s anti-hopping law, Prof Faruqi thinks that is fair.
“We had this law in Kelantan and Sabah but declared null and void in the case of Nordin Salleh. The Federal Government challenged it but sometimes there is poetic justice. Sometimes boomerangs come back,” he quipped.