OVERCOMING THE PREVAILING UNCERTAINTY
As the coalition that is at the helm of the nation, the Barisan Nasional should take the initiative to overcome the atmosphere of uncertainty that has prevailed since the 8 March 2008 General Election. As a first step in that direction, it should invite the Pakatan Rakyat to participate in a heart to heart discussion which will attempt to achieve an agreement between the two sides on the following:-
1) Acceptance by both the BN and the PR of the outcome of the 8 March 2008 General Election as the expression of the democratic will of the people. This acceptance of the popular will can be embodied in a written accord signed by the principal leaders of both the BN and the PR which would state explicitly that the Federal government and the various State governments should be allowed to govern effectively without being subjected to the constant threat of a backdoor ouster through defections and the like. Of course, petitions against specific electoral verdicts will still be heard in the courts whose decisions will have to be accepted by all concerned.
2) Support from both the BN and the PR for anti-hop legislation at the Federal and State levels that would require an elected legislator to resign from his/her seat in Parliament or the State Assembly if he/she decides to quit his/her party or coalition. The legislator who has resigned would be allowed to re-contest the vacated seat. This would require amendments to existing legislation.
3) Commitment from both the BN and the PR to make the well-being of the rakyat their highest priority. Such a focus is vital at a time like this when Malaysians, like people in so many other parts of the world, are faced with major challenges arising mainly from the global crisis in financial markets, fuel and food (the 3F Crisis). Towards this end, the BN government should invite the PR to nominate 6 representatives (two from each party) to sit on the National Economic Council. The goal would be to get everyone to work together to resolve the problems facing the nation.
In the spirit of Ramadan the BN leadership should reach out to the PR. And in the same spirit of Ramadan, the PR should respond positively. There will be no losers in such a meeting. The only winner will be the Malaysian people.
Dr. Chandra Muzaffar.
10 September 2008.