By Prof Dr Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi
I am neither a student nor a scholar in political science, but I do understand the basic ideas of nation building and the sacred right of citizenry.
First of all, in order for us Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazans, Murut, Bajau, Orang Asli and a myriad of other ethnic groups to come together as one common family, we need to call ourselves as 'a nation'. What we need for this nation to survive as a family is a 'family counsel' that we call, for lack of any other, the 'parliamentary seating'. What goes on in this 'parliamentary seating or 'family counsel'? Simple. Some people whom we decide to call 'elders' or 'leaders' or Tok Batin or whatever other names, sit together and talk to each other to resolve issues of conflicts, to plan for the future of the new nation or family' and to seek support of all tribes, races, and communities toward a common good.
The key to all these is about 'talking to one another' or 'to take counsel with each other' or to 'remind each other' or to 'offer advise to one another' and come to either a consensus or a majority decision. The only time that this 'family counsel' can be suspended and a one man rule allowed is during times of civil disorder or war. At other times when the communication system still works, and there is no danger of an enemy outside the borders, the family counsel must sit and take or give counsel.
On this 18th of May, it seems that this family counsel will gather just to listen and then balik kampung. This is not a family or parliamentary seating. This is a briefing of a symbolic leader to a gathering of Members of Parliament. On this 18th May, when all MPs come to a building called 'Parliament Building', sit comfortably in a 'Parliamentary Chair' and is given the official 'Parliamentary Mask' and served the 'Parliamentary Nasi Lemak Rendang Ayam' (for non-fasting MPs) and then sit and listen to a speech in a room called, for lack of a better name, the Dewan Rakyat, all this is NOT a Parliamentary Seating or a Family Counsel' in my personal Dictionary of Meaningful Words. If the Wakil Rakyat that we send to be the 'elders' or 'leaders' are disallowed to talk, this seating is no more than a classroom in our public school where the teacher dictates to students being quiet as a mouse. There is no dignity, no meaning, and no relevance of this meeting to call itself a 'parliamentary seating' befitting the sacred duty of the 'family counsel'. It is a briefing and nothing more.
I have always been proud to be a Malaysian but have never felt much pride to be in Malaysia with all the shenanigans of our politicians in parliament of the past 30 years of my adult life. Regardless of the morality of one race and one religious group which sees itself as the guardian of this country and see itself above in morality than others and by virtue of that completely destroys the very fabric of what we call 'Malaysia', I always felt pride that our MPs can speak without being dragged out of parliament or kidnapped so as not to be able to be present. We had never come to that. Although I heard such dragging out of Speakers from State Legislatures and funny goings on are now the order of the day for a new 'samseng seating' of so-called state legislature meets, it has never happened to our sacred Parliament.
Thus, in 2020, the year of Wawasan 2020 where the country was set to be on an advanced state of civilizational maturity, a group of renegade MPs have destroyed the very fabric of our ties as a nation. The Parliament has ceased to be the final glue of our nation construct. We can no longer function as a family when the family counsel has been hijacked by a group of irresponsible citizens.
How can I tell my university students now that we are a nation of dignified citizenry who owns this country, is responsible individually for the welfare of this country and must die for this piece of dry earth? How can I tell them that it is they who must make the laws of this country through their own advise and suggestions to those who they elect as their representatives? How can I tell our children that the Parliament is where no person can stand apart from another just by virtue of his or her wealth or his or her family upbringing? How can I say to them that in Parliament the sacred voice of the MPs resonate with several thousand voices of the constituency to bring a share of the wealth of this country to everyone's table?
What words can I use now to teach when the lesson ceases to have any worth? A new dawn has arrived to our shores of Malaysia. It marks the death of democracy and power of the many but slowly approaches the idea and ideals of tyranny.
This day of the 18th May 2020 shall be marked as the lowest day in our 63 years of independence where democracy has died and we cease to be a family-nation.
(Professor Dr. Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi is Professor at a local university.)