May 7, 2009
I was invited to speak at the Perdana Leadership Foundation’s Discourse Series. The title of the day was “The Role of the Judiciary, Executive, Legislative and Constitutional Monarchy in the Governing of Malaysia”.
Some people thought I was too oppositionist in bringing up Perak, but come on – there is NO way I could have addressed the audience on this subject without analysing the Perak fiasco. Seriously. And what has happened today has made me all the more adamant that the institutions must be strengthened and complete revamping and reform must take place before the same orchestrated madness of today is replicated elsewhere, or worse – at national level should it come to that stage.
Once the Executive takes into its own hands what it must at all costs achieve, and makes use of all other arms to fulfill its needs, thus spells the death of democracy.
The text of my speech is here. (I shall upload all my speeches of the last few months too – haven’t had time la, have been so busy with Selangor work).
“Restoring Institutional Strength and Separation of Powers”
Wednesday, 6th May 2009, Perdana Leadership Foundation 9th Discourse Series, Putrajaya
Salam sejahtera and good morning. I have been asked to share my thoughts with you on the role of the judiciary, executive, legislature and the constitutional monarchy in the governing of Malaysia. My co-panelists, both trained in the law, would no doubt present a complete and thorough legal framework, so I thought that I’d try to capture the sentiments being more urgently and widely expressed by many Malaysians. The viewpoint which you will be sharing with for the next few moments will be that of a person working in government presently, exposed to its systems and cultures, a keen political observer, and a young Malaysian serious about reflecting upon the country’s problems and trying to resolve them through key public policy reforms.
One cannot reflect upon the role of these institutions – the judiciary, executive, legislative and the monarchy – without first examining the political structure that was intended for the governing of Malaysia. Our country was one of those Commonwealth countries that was expected to and for a while held out the promise of blossoming into a mature democracy. For this reason, it is worth considering the challenges encountered by these institutions; how their roles have been shaped; or where they have not been reflected in their practice; and how they can be improved, in the process of truly gaining a full-fledged democracy in the medium to long run. The Reid Commission Report clearly demonstrated the difficulty of achieving a fine balance of interests between the different sizable racial communities that had to be accounted for within a constitutional government akin to the British Westminster model. But did our past leaders envisage the fruition of a democracy in our country?
Tunku Abdul Rahman on 16th September 1963, the day Malaysia was formed, said, “Let us always remember that the Malayan Union was formed after many difficulties during a long period of national Emergency, yet its multi-racial society emerged, endured and survived as a successful and progressive nation, a true democracy and an example to the world of harmony and tolerance.” Malaysia’s formation was complicated by a host of factors: citizenship, cultural heritage, the Emergency, ethnicity, religion and so on. Despite this, and at the end of it all, our achievement should have been a true and healthy democracy; one where we are debating about the finer points of the rule of law and separation of powers, and not whether it exists or not. The rule of law simply means that no one is above the law. Not you. Or the police. Or the judges. Or even the Prime Minister. And in some cases even royalty. Everyone of us are supposed to be equal before the law.