Malaysia was founded on the basis of a belief in parliamentary democracy with monarchy as a superstructure in its governance. We have the Paramount Ruler (the Yang diPertuan Agong) as the supreme Head of State while the Prime Minister is the Chief of the elected government with a cabinet of Ministers as his council of advisors. The lower and upper house of parliament sanctioned all the laws in the country as endorsed by the Agong. Members of Parliament and all State Assemblies are elected by the people, though the Prime Minister, his Deputy, the Ministers, the Chief Minister of a State and the members of his Executive Council (Excos) are selected and appointed by the party with the endorsement of the Agong or the Ruler of State (the Sultan) as appropriate.
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The real democracy as such is only in the election of the members of Parliament and the State Legislative Assembly, The electorate has no say in the selection and appointment of the PM, DPM, the Ministers, Chief Ministers, Excos etc and other political appointees in the government. The people have no says in who actually would become their Prime Minister, Deputy PM, Ministers etc.They just choose the candidates fielded by the political parties, whether from the party now holding the seat of power or from the opposition. The party will decide who'd be the PM and he will determine the rest with the agreement of the party's bigwigs.
Thus the election or the poll takes the full brunt of the democratic process. Once you've made your choice at the poll, you have no more say as to who will run which part of the government i.e. which ministry or who will hold what portfolio. The PM as chosen by the party will decide on the members of his Cabinet and he can choose them from the elected members of Parliament or even from outside through appointment as a Senator - a member or the upper house of Parliament. When a Minister is not an elected member of Parliament, ipso facto not a representative of the people or the electorate - one wonders whether he is only responsible to the PM and the Cabinet and not to the people as a whole?
the rural beauty
The coming General Election, therefore, is a real test of the Malaysian style democracy which had withstood the test of time so far and brought the nation considerable progress.The difference this time around is that the opposition parties have formed their own coalition and are not standing alone as before. And they have also been running four state government after their victory in the 2008 general election. As such they do not enter the poll without any solid footing in terms of governing power or a performance record of their own. Good or bad, it's up to the people to judge. The government in power of course has a long track record of more than 50 years by which to be judged. It has embarked on a wide ranging political, economic and social policy of TRANSFORMATION as against the opposition's battle cry of REFORMATION.
What the two ideologies entail is a matter of intellectual rationalization and imagination. Datuk Seri Najib's transformation programs seem to cover all aspects of governance i.e. political, economic, social, administrative, and even cultural. They cover such an extensive field of concern that results may not be quite obvious as yet except on a short term basis. Is there any real transformation or change in UMNO's way of doing things, for example, especially in relation to awarding contracts and sharing the benefits of mega projects being churned up by government? Is there any change in the tuan-like attitude of appointed leaders at the grassroots level, especially the "ketua kampung"? The overbearing image of the rich putra-UMNO created in the past has not seemed to decrease but on the other hand seemed to increase in number and prosperity. Other programs such as the BRIM, special funds for many things, and the salary revisions have, of course, received a resounding acclaimation from those who received immediate cash returns. But their result in boosting up the productivity of the nation is still to be seen. One sure result is that the price of things has and will continue to rise.
Reformasi (reformation) is till more of a battle-cry than a solid package of development programs. More disturbing is the fact that the coalition formed by the opposition seemed to be so brittle. The leaders are often at loggerhead with each other. It's strength lies in the hope that 'a new broom can sweep well', and that 'something new is better than more of the same thing'. To experiment with a new form of government is a very risky thing but then 'nothing venture nothing gain' as the saying goes. The public has seen a stable government ruling the county for more than half a century and no one can doubt the progressive changes it has brought us. The question: is it the best that can happen or can we do better? That is the issue and the choice which faces the democracy in Malaysia.