After Anwar's amazing victory at the Permatang Pauh by-election and with his imminent entry into Parliament, hopes are high that we might see a better Parliament ahead.
Azly Rahman has written an excellent and thought-provoking article on this topic here - http://mt.harapanmalaysia.com/2008/content/view/11910/84/. After reading this, I must simply pen my thoughts here for future reference.
My own thoughts are that to answer this question, we need to first start with the question - where we are today? Do we currently have a First World Parliament or a Third World Parliament? What are the characteristics of these Parliaments, and where is our Parliament at the moment?
And how will this change with Anwar's entry?
Will a single person be able to substantially change the present Parliamentary culture?
Or is a greater change needed in this country in order to have a more effective Parliament - the one with the Rakyat's better interest?
First or Third World Parliament?
I will be lazy and just quote points from Azly's article:
Name calling. How often do you hear these terms uttered by our MPs? "bodoh", "berok", "baboon", "binatang" and other less than human designation?
Facts and logical reasoning. How often do you hear first class quality reasoning uttered by our MPs? Do they attempt to answer all the questions put forward by the Opposition? Do they quote relevant or irrelevant facts? Are they able to clearly prioritize issues? Do they logically connect data, facts, reasons and conclusions, or are these merely ass-u-me-d to be true by mere repetitions, name callings, irrelevant arguments, innuendos, character attacks, etc.?
Shouting and Yelling. How often does one hear a pin-drop silence in Parliament in the middle of a discussion? How often does that compares with the cajoling, the cheering, the beating of the drums so to speak? Is Parliament a place where the loudest is the mightiest? Should MPs elect for special surgery to increase their voice power to be more effective in Parliament?
What about factors like:
Well Researched Issues?
Data driven Arguments?
Deliberate and mediate our most urgent and serious issues?
I recalled a long time ago, that our nation's most famous son-in-law once uttered that our Parliament actually engage in high quality debates. Against what standard would he define "high-quality"?
Or to follow the examples set by our MPs, is this just another empty, hallow and unsubstantiated claim by Malaysia's most famous Kera Jantan?
The other thing that I need to ask is after all these name calling, yelling, shouting, conclusions that ignores data, facts, sound and logical reasoning, what is typically the final outcome of all these rhetorics?
For example, the present DNA Bill that is in its 2nd reading now, and after its 3rd reading will become law.
Does the government even listen to the concerns expressed by the Opposition parties?
Does the government even listen to the concerns expressed by the industry groups like the Bar Council and various stakeholders?
Does the government translates their listening and understanding into action by amending and improving upon the DNA Bill, or do they merely pay lip service?
Which is a bigger crime? Crime committed due to ignorance? Or crime committed when one has full knowledge of the implications, but the government choose to proceed with all the weaknesses identified?
Why proceed with all the weaknesses identified?
Are there special motive to do so?
As much as everybody else in Malaysia, I have high hopes that when Anwar enters Parliament, we may see an improvement.
As much as everybody else in Malaysia, I have high hopes that with a louder voice in Parliament, we may see an improvement.
But I am afraid that even with Anwar in Parliament, and even with the largest number of Opposition MPs that we have ever seen in Parliament, the "culture" of our Third World Parliament as set by the government MPs may be too deeply ingrained and may not be capable of changing for the better ...
Some people thinks I am wrong and all it takes is time.
But when it comes to voting whether a particular Bill makes it law or not, can Government MPs vote according to individual and logical reasoning, even when it contradicts the Party's position?
Can MPs vote based on individual conscience?
Or must MPs vote based on the party whip?
Doesn't the government retains its majority in Parliament even with Anwar entering?
Since it still retains the majority and the party whips continues to be applied, what is to stop the government from continuing to pay lip service to the Opposition?
What choice do we have as Malaysian citizens if we want a First World Parliament?
Must we wait until the next election?
Will this guarantee that we will then have a First World Parliament after the next election?
What if those with conscience decides to leap to the Opposition?
If these results in a Better Parliament ahead, is it wrong to do so?
Or must the nation continue to suffer for the next 4 years until the next election?