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TJ MGG: MP Ponteng Dan Isu Nasional
By Marhain Tua
19/10/2000 10:26 pm Thu
MP Ponteng Dan Isu Nasional
Pada pemilu 1999 dulu, Barisan Nasional telah berjaya mengekalkan kuasa
dengan memenangi 75 peratus daripada 192 kerusi yang ditandingkan. Tetapi
hampir semua kerusi yang majoriti pengundinya orang Melayu merupakan
kawasan yang kini mempunyai risiko yang tinggi kepad UMNO. Taktik
memutarbelitkan kawasan parlimen untuk menonjolkan dominasi orang Melayu
kini merupakan satu igauan yang menghambat UMNO. Satu ketika dulu, pemimpin
UMNO adalah laksana ketua kaum Fiji yang memikirkan kepimpinan mereka
adalah sesuatu yang menjadi hak sehingga mereka mati. Tetapi kini, ia
hanya memerlukan sedikit pergolakan di akar umbi. Kalau pemilu November
itu mahu diambil kira, sikap orang Melayu meninggalkan UMNO adalah merupakan
satu langkah yang akan merobek keutuhan Barisan Nasional itu akhirnya.
Setiap langkah yang dilakukan oleh UMNO untuk mendapatkan kembali sokongan
yang sudah hilang itu selalu sahaja disangsikan oeh orang melayu sendiri.
Mereka lebih rela memerhatikannya dari tepi garisan akan tindak-tanduk dan
keangkuhan para pemimpin UMNO itu sehinggakan sebarang ugutan yang
dilaungkan di telinga para MP UMNO itu tidak akan bermakna apa-apa lagi.
Seorang MP Barisan Nasional pernah memberitahu saya betapa dia tidak kisah
kalau diterima menjadi calon lagi; dia pasti akan kalah juga. Kerana itu
dia menempelak Perdana Menteri kerana masalah yang sedang dihadapinya itu.
Airmata buaya yang keluar daripada kelopak mata si Perdana Menteri (sila
lihat rencana lidah pengarang Straits Times (19 Oktober, 00 m/s/ 14)
nampaknya akan terus berjuraian lagi:
Alangkah aibnya..! Tetapi, di manakah New Straits Times ketika para MP itu
melakukan apa yang tidak digemarinya? Bukankah para MP yang ponteng itu
sengaja memperlekehkan fungsi parlimen? Usaha memperbetulkan masalah secara
berseloka tentunya tidak akan memperbetulkan kewibawaan Barisan Nasional.
Apa yang ditimbulkan oleh Perdana menteri bukannya ada kaitan terhadap
kurang hormat kepada Dewan Parlimen. Lidah Pengarang akhbar itu telah
mencadangkan agar sessi parlimen diberikan liputan TV secara lintas
langsung. Dapatkah ini membantu Barisan Nasional? Betapakah pula para
ahli parti pembangkang yang berdebat dengan berkesan sehinga mampu
mengganyang ahli parlimen kerajaan di kerusi belakang yang sepatutnya
memainkan peranan demikian. Nampaknya semua ini adalah satu contoh
mendapatkan penyelesaian secara konsep bidan terjun kepada masalah besar
yang sudah lama jatuh menjunam.
Absent MPs And National Issues
The Prime Minister is incensed National Front MPs do not attend Parliament
as assidiously as they should. He threatens National Front, especially
UMNO, MPs would be dropped if they stay away from Parliament. For the
first time in three decades, the Opposition can itself heard, without
government MPs denying it a quorum by leaving the House. Now with 45 MPs,
twice the quorum, it puts the government on notice. It is now possible
for government bills to be defeated. One symbolic defeat, even on an
irrelevant matter, would destroy the government's equanimity, such as it
is. That the Prime Minister must threaten his MPs with deselection, and
for UMNO to insist office-seekers to be registered voters, 45 years after
the government coalition took office, reflects fear and disarry at the
Malay ground demanding answers for its un-Malay actions, the most
important the continuing saga of He Who Must Be Destroyed At All Cost.
He has no choice. The opposition leader, Dato' Fadhil Noor, is seen, in
the public eye, a more credible parliamentarian and leader than the Prime
The November 1999 general elections, which returned the National
Front to power with 75 per cent of the 192 seats, nevertheless made almost
every Malay-majority constituency at risk. The regular electoral
gerrymandering to ensure Malay parliamentary dominance now comes to haunt
the government. Like the Fijian territorial chiefs, UMNO leaders assumed
this allowed them power in perpetuity. All it needed to unhinge is a
revolt within the ranks. If the November general elections counts for
anything, this Malay cultural desertion unhinged the National Front.
Every step UMNO takes to recover this lost ground is disbelieved. So, its
members nonchalantly watch from the political sidelines, its MPs so
arrogant and c##ks-of-the-hoop that they cannot be whipped into line with
threats that now do not matter: one National Front MP told me it mattered
not if he was not a candidate in the next election; he would almost
certainly be defeated if he were. And blames his predicament on the Prime
The MPs who regularly play truant in Parliament are not from the
opposition. But it is not only MPs who do so. The cabinet does too.
Often the House does not have even a single minister on the benches. The
Prime Minister is a notable absentee to parliamentary sessions.
Parliament, in their view, is to be ignored except to tell the world we
are a parliamentary democracy. The Speaker, appointed and not elected by
MPs from amongst them, would not go against the government of the day.
If a government want an issue ignored, it would not; if the opposition
wants an issue raised, it cannot. But the mood in the House changed
irrevocably with the November 1999 general election. The Prime Minister
takes on not a Chinese, Mr Lim Kit Siang, but a Malay, and from his home
state of Kedah. In the confrontations so far, Dato' Fadhil has the edge.
If the National Front wants Parliament to reflect the people's
concern, it should be made to exist as one, not as a rubber stamp. It
should be made the most important political forum in the country, where
issues are vigorously debated, and the government regularly keeping it
informed. Instead, Parliament is ignored, even in session, and important
policy statements made outside the House in dubious circumstances. If the
Prime Minister wants National Front MPs to attend Parliamentary sessions,
he should order his cabinet and government too. He should set an example
by being available during sessions, and be present for more than his
cursory appearances, actively participate in the proceedings. All
important statements during session must be made in the House first.
Unless the leaders give Parliament the respect it deserves, the followers
would not care. Besides, the Prime Minister moves not to ensure
parliamentary sovereignty but to staunch the rot within his ranks.
But the Prime Minister's crocodile tears, which the New Straits Times
editorial today (19 October 00, p14) reflects, must remain that. "The
Prime Minister is rightfully concerned with the state of affairs because
it is detrimental to the smooth functioning of parliamentary democracy if
MPs are frequently absent from parliamentary sittings and what is more
disturbing is that the people's respect for their elected representatives
could erode over time if the absenteeism persists and is not checked."
Phew! But where was the New Straits Times when the National Front did
just what it says MPs should not: deliberately preventing the functions
of parliament. Couching the problem in cliches does not address the
problem of National Front credibility. It is not disrespect for
parliamentary democracy the Prime Minister rails against. The editorial
suggests House sittings be televised. Would that help the National Front?
Or the Opposition, whose MPs argue with purpose, often to taunts from the
government backbenchers whose role more often than not just that.
Another irrelevant quick-fix to an intractible problem.