Enough Place and Safe Space for Strong Opposition in Malaysia Post GE14


Enough Place and Safe Space for Strong Opposition in Malaysia Post GE14

Now that the mantle of opposition has changed hands after the historic defeat of the Barisan Nasional, the Pakatan victors are advised not to be too carried away with victory and are reminded of the need for a strong opposition.

Pakatan Harapan (PH) supporters are showing plenty of magnanimity in victory.

They do not want the Barisan Nasional (BN) to disappear. Without a strong and credible opposition, the new government may not have alternative voices to deliver its promises and may end up being as bad or worse than the previous administration. 

Former Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) Chief Executive Officer Wan Saiful Wan Jan said that PH government must make room for a strong and credible opposition.

He said that the PH manifesto in fact acknowledges the position of leader of the opposition,according it the status equivalent to a Federal Minister. There is also provision for opposition MPs to be given adequate funding to carry out development projects in their constituencies. 

"A commitment to see a functioning is there in the manifesto "Buku Jingga". This is really important because if we do not have a functioning opposition, we will become another Umno and Barisan Nasional.

If we are talking about reform, we must ensure the opposition exists

"If we do not have a strong opposition to rise up and challenge us in GE15 or GE16 to provide a better narrative than what we can offer, then all sorts of complacencies will set in PH and this is really dangerous.

"If we are talking about reform, we must ensure the opposition exists. I am using the word "opposition" as I am not sure if it will be Umno, as so many are crossing over to the other side. If we have an extraordinary strong PH government, there is a cause for concern.

Wan Saiful of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) had contested in Pendang, Kedah under PH, but lost to BN’s Othman Abdul from Umno.

Simpang Renggam MP and former academician Dr Maszlee Malik, who claimed that he took a "syariah-compliant gamble" when he dabbled in GE14 called upon those in BN parties to stop hopping over to PH.

"What I would love to see - not only in Parliament but also at the state assemblies - is the shadow cabinet,along the lines of Westminster in the United Kingdom. Not only a shadow PM and shadow ministers, but also shadow Excos, if they (the BN parties) have enough members in the assembly. In Kelantan and Terengganu, I do not think they have enough 'shadows', but one or two shades would be enough to be the check and balance for the government," said Maszlee.

He said soon after the GE14 results was in, his phone was inundated with calls from Umno members and local leaders asking for Bersatu membership registration forms to cross over.

You need to be loyal and stay in your party, as you need to reform your party

"When I was contacted by those in Umno after the election, I told them, "Please remain in Umno. Please be loyal to your party - despite whatever is in your mind. You need to be loyal and stay in your party, as you need to reform your party. The same thing, we should convey to Gerakan, MIC, MCA - remain in your party, be loyal to your party. Start a new culture, start a new life in your party," said Maszlee.

He said this is to ensure that Pakatan Harapan as the new government do not get buoyed by their newly won victory and repeat past mistakes.

Maszlee said that a democratic government needs to have a strong opposition to ensure that work gets done, knowing that they are being monitored closely, with no room for abuse of power.

"Pakatan Harapan needs a strong opposition to watch them. If we are left without any strong opposition and or any shadow cabinet, I believe in the coming years, we may be worse than (the previous) Barisan Nasional.

DAP's Liew Chin Tong, who lost to BN's Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong of MCA in Ayer Itam, said that such an opposition is necessary as the people have crossed their threshold of fear to remove a government they do not want.

"From now on, change of government is no longer impossible. That is good for this country, because the next time the people want to throw out this government, they would not have to worry about any concerns to exercise the democratic right. This is the most beautiful - for we as a people fought against all odds and achieved this together," said Liew.