justice, progress, unity Issue No. 16 - 13 August 1999

Why the obsession with a two-thirds majority?
Again and again, Dr M has insisted that strong government means a two-thirds majority.

In Melaka, he repeated himself, adding that winning more than two-thirds would ensure that the BN government would not face any threat from others.

Dr Mahathir said the BN government did not wish to abuse its power and had no plans of amending the federal constitution as alleged by the opposition.

Of course his government has not amended the constitution a number of times in the past 18 years, each time enhancing his own power -- we were just dreaming.

Dreaming aside, we still need to ask: Is it true that there can be no strong government without a two-thirds majority?
A simple majority can pass legislation, approve the budget, institute new policies, etc. In brief, a simple majority is more than sufficient for effective and good governance.

The one thing a simple majority cannot do is to amend the constitution; a simple majority cannot strong-arm the people.
So, for Dr M, strong government doesn’t mean effective and good government. For him, strong government means the power to amend the constitution and to strong-arm the people. If not, why insist on the two-thirds majority?

Let’s take a simple scenario, although one that will not be easy for the Barisan Alternatif to achieve.

There are 192 seats in Parliament. Let’s say the BN wins 110 seats and the Barisan Alternatif, 82 seats. This will give the BN a simple majority of  28 seats.

Why isn’t such a majority sufficient to do all the wonderful things he tells us he wants to do for the country? After all, never in the history of the Barisan Nasional has a BN Member of Parliament voted against a bill, no matter how bad.

So, is he really telling us something else -- that the real threats he faces are not from others, but from within the BN? He must be remembering the ghosts of his history.

The last time the BN, in the guise of the Alliance, failed to win a two-thirds majority, he was the leading figure who helped push out an aging prime minister.

That must be it. He’s afraid that should he not win a two-thirds majority, his days are numbered; someone, or some persons, will push him out, just as he did the Tunku.

Aha! The BN is not as united as he wants us to think.

Whatever, if he doesn’t believe he can form an effective government with a simple majority, then he should step aside. The days of strong-arm rule are over.

The Barisan Alternatif believes it can provide good and effective governance with only a simple majority. Indeed, the Barisan Alternatif welcomes a strong opposition to keep us on our toes, to remind us of why we are in government -- to serve, not to strong-arm, the people!

Not trying to frighten, just threatening
In Melaka, Monday, Dr Mahathir denied trying to frighten the people by saying that a weak government will bring about chaos and racial riots.

Yet what are we to understand when he suggests that if he doesn’t get his two-thirds majority, there will be chaos and riots -- just like in 1969.

This is what he said, as reported by Bernama:
“We did not get two-thirds majority (in 1969) and there were riots. This is clear proof that if we chose a weak government the peace in the country is not assured,” Dr Mahathir told the 4,000 people attending the dinner in Melaka. “That's why I'm saying over and over again that it's important for the people to choose a strong government.”

He said winning more than two-thirds of the seats in the election would prevent chaos like the 1969 riots from taking place.
No, he’s not trying to frighten us. It’s worse than that. He’s threatening and blackmailing us.

After all, this is the man who, in 1969, added fuel to the fire. The Tunku had appealed to him, “In the name of God, I ask you to help the government in its task of restoring peace and harmony to our country, and one of the ways is to restrain yourself from issuing statements which can worsen the situation in this country.”

He replied, in a letter that was circulated in the explosive situation in Kg Baru:

“Your ‘give and take’ policy gives the Chinese everything they ask for..... The Chinese on the other hand regarded you and the Alliance government as cowards and weaklings who could be pushed around.

…That was why the Chinese and the Indians behaved outrageously toward the Malays on 12th May. If you had been spat in the face, called dirty names and shown obscene gestures and private parts, then you would understand how the Malays felt. The Malays whom you thought would never rebel went berserk, and they hate you for giving too much face. The responsibility of the deaths of these people, Muslim or Infidels, rests on the shoulders of the leader who holds views based on wrong assumptions.

I regret writing this letter, but I have to convey to you the feelings of the Malays. In truth the Malays whether they are UMNO or PMIP supporters really hate you, especially those who had lost homes, children and relatives, because of your ‘give and take’ policy.

They said you wanted to be known only as ‘The Happy Prime Minister’ even though others are suffering. They said that although the country was in a state of emergency you were engrossed playing poker with your Chinese friends. Even the policemen said that you were using official cars and police escorts to contact your poker gang….

Lately, another disturbing factor came to light. The Malays in the Civil Service, from Permanent Secretary downwards, Army Officers and the Malays in the Police Force have lost faith and respect for you. I know that the majority of them voted for the PMIP through mail ballots....

…I wish to convey what the people really think, that is that it is high time you resign as our Prime Minister and UMNO leader...”

Enough of these dark threats and blackmail. Dr M is not frightened of chaos; he’s threatening us with it. What he’s frightened of is his own loss of power -- for the fact remains that it is very likely the BN will win enough seats to form the government, although perhaps not a two-thirds majority.

But Malaysians must no longer allow themselves to succumb to the same threats that are trotted out each time Dr M is frightened of losing power.

May we have the real charges against Anwar?
This is all getting very confusing. We were told it was about morality and to support that, we have been given hand signs, ‘entertained’ by explicit sex stories, treated to the spectacle of a semen-stained mattress as star exhibit, and turned into the laughing stock of the world.

But now, there’s not much talk about morality; the current sodomy trial in court is turning out to be more and more like the shambles it was threatening to be, and senior ministers are singing a different song.

Last Thursday, August 5, in Perth, the international trade and industry minister, Rafidah Aziz, burst out that Anwar “was killing the country” and had been “talking bad” about the country while overseas, and then promptly declared that the case against Anwar had nothing to do with politics.

Then, Monday, in Melaka, Dr M also had nothing to say about morality; instead, it was Anwar was trying to overthrow Mahathir and some ministers, such as Rafidah Aziz and Daim.

The more he and his senior cabinet colleagues say, the worse it becomes.

Dr M’s and Rafidah’s reputation are theirs to enhance or damage as they please. But they have no right to make this country a laughing stock, to damage the reputation of the country with this, yesterday one tune, today another; worse, they can’t even sing in tune with one another.

Nor, on a simple human level, do they have the right to try to destroy Anwar Ibrahim and his family.


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