August 24, 2010, Tuesday BORNEO POST
WHILE politics is actually the art of governance, there are many who look at it as the art of manipulation and power.Ever since independence the politics adapted by the government has always been one based on democracy.
And this system of democracy, which has proven to be effective for the last five decades in Peninsular Malaysia and four decades in Sabah and Sarawak, has always been based on consensus and power sharing, initially adopted by the Alliance and later by the Barisan Nasional (BN).
While many countries in the world, especially those in Africa, are struggling to keep their democracy alive, the one practised in Malaysia is actually thriving. This is because the BN shares its power with even the smallest community.
Take a look at Sarawak, for example. The BN had produced four chief ministers namely Tan Sri Stephen Kalong Ningkan, Datuk Tawi Sli, Tun Abdul Rahman Ya’kub and Pehin Sri Abul Taib Mahmud.
While two of them were from the majority Iban community, the third and current chief ministers are from the minority Melanau community.
President of Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) Dato Sri Dr James Jemut Masing pointed out that based on the BN system of government all ethnic groups in the state were actively involved in the government.
“This is a very unique case as power sharing is not based on the ‘majority rule’. Every race is given a ‘taste’ of power in the government,” Masing told thesundaypost yesterday.
As an anthropologist and seasoned politician, Masing is well qualified to share his piece of mind.
Masing opined that if the BN had been proven to be effective and fair to all races, why should the voters allow themselves to be hoodwinked by the opposition, especially the `Pakatan Rakyat (PR) Plus SNAP’ in the election which must be called within 11 months’ time.
While admitting that there had been some flaws in the government, Masing stressed that there was nothing fundamentally wrong with the BN power sharing concept.
“We must accept the fact that no leader is indispensable. But since BN has been proven to be fair, it must be supported by the people because it is for the good of the people. After all that is democracy per se,” he pointed out.
Masing, who is also Baleh assemblyman, further argued that PR and SNAP were not relevant to the people of Sarawak as they were merely trying to start a government which is untested and unpractical.
While the PR has taken over four states, it had not been seen to be successful in the art of governance as it continued to be plagued by all sorts of internal bickering and power struggles.
This internal bickering, according to Masing, would definitely continue, even if they could take over the federal government! His argument is based on the fact that among the PR members, the DAP would not dodge on its socialist stance while PAS would dwell on its Islamic views.
“PKR’s main struggle is a personal vendetta by its de facto leader against the government (which he was once part of), so it will not be wise for the rakyat to experiment something which is proven to have a wrong precedent to Sarawak.”
On the other hand, the BN in Sarawak, which comprises PBB, SUPP, PRS and SPDP, had proven itself capable of governing fairly and also fair in sharing power among the ethnic groups of all sizes.
“In the case of Pakatan Rakyat, they will field candidates based on racial majority. Just look at the last Hulu Selangor byelection. Pakatan Rakyat chose Datuk Zaid Ibrahim from Kelantan to represent PKR just because the majority of the voters there are Malays, while the BN chose MIC candidate P Kamalanathan as its candidate who eventually won there.
“If we have to choose our candidates based on racial majority, then the MIC would not have many seats. But because of the BN’s power-sharing concept, all the component parties are given the chance to pick their own candidates.
“This is definitely true in Sarawak, as even minority ethnic groups such as the Kedayans, Lun Bawangs, Kayans and Kenyahs were also given the chance to become elected representatives.”