Thursday, March 5, 2009

Are We Moving towards a Two Party System?

Political development in Malaysia today indicates that we're moving towards a two party system but we are most ill-prepared for it. The US for example has the Democratic and Republican party as alternative choice for setting up the government while the UK has the Conservative and the Labour Party. Most other democratic countries follow this line and Malaysians may have no choice but to do the same.

We now have the Barisan Nasional and the Pakatan Rakyat, both made up of smaller parties as in other countries, which are never free from internal bickerings and power struggle. But once the two major parties are formed, they become the choice for the people in electing their government at both the national and state level. The party in power at the federal level does not always hold power at the state level. That's democracy!

But what's happening in Malaysia when five States ( or now four) go to the opposition? We've endless wranglings and struggle for
power, a continuous exchange of charges and insults, demoralizing efforts to persuade assemblymen to cross over party lines,
the washing of dirty linen in the media, and a continuous outpouring of grievances and condemnations between parties, leaders and followers which can put the country and nation to shame. Worst of all, it can even cause a social upheaval or a racial disharmony!

How come other countries with a two-party system have been able to work out things pretty well? They have changed government even at the national level, each party forming the government at one time and becoming the loyal opposition at another. Malaysians (especially our political leaders) must begin to learn some of the principles that must be abided by if the
present political uncertainties in the country are to be overcome. Some obvious ones include:

* both the role of government and loyal opposition are important to keep a country on even keel, balanced and healthy;
* the two parties must respect each other in the role that the people have chosen them to perform;
* the right of the people to choose the role that each party will play at different times and under different circumstances
should be respected;
* each party must be able to control it components members and keep them disciplined; and
* both parties in the two-party system must work towards the same goal, to promote the best interest of the country and the

Based on these principles, there's no need for one party to look down on the role of another: whether you're in the government or the opposition you've just as important a role to play. The people have a right to reassess the role you're playing and changing it according to the need of the time. We all know that a very fast pace of development can bring about several undesirable consequences such as an increase in crime and it viciousness, moral breakdown, money politics and corruptions,
breakdown of values, disrespect for the old etc. We, therefore, need to be more critical and disciplined, more discreet and stringent with our choice, if we're to remold our identity and image, rebuild our strength and character and set a new pattern of development, different from the 'anything-goes' type of the past.

Hence we need a more critical approach to development now and a government that asks a lot of questions, raises issues and problems and not just sweep them all under the carpet. If that be so then a role switch for the party which has been in power all the time may be good, though it can also be disastrous. Whatever it is, a role switch as chosen by the people must be respected and the party involved should not be causing unnecessary political turbulence in the nation to retain its position.

Malaysians have to be ready to move towards a two party system. The earlier we learn the rules the better. Politicians must be the first to understand, appreciate and abide by the rules.

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