Saturday, 11 September 2010

Debates to tickle the heart

Brave New World (The Star)
9 September 2010

If only new NGO 1Malaysia Youth Graduands and Perkasa's Ibrahim Ali will come forward to defend their assertions that the Constitution has been slighted.


AS I am writing this, my mind is not really on the happenings in this country of ours.
It is instead on lemang.
Which is very strange because I never grew up with lemang on my mind.
Coming from the north, the stodge of choice for Raya feasting was always ketupat.
And by ketupat, I mean the triangular ones made with beras pulut which is sometimes enhanced with soft boiled peanuts amidst the sticky goodness.
For years, I have defended the superiority of the feminine ketupat over the phallic lemang.
But that was just my stubborn northern pride talking because at the end of the day, lemang or ketupat, it is a small matter and to discuss the merits of one over the other is really making a mountain out of a molehill.
Which is rather like political party elections really.
It’s quite funny to see Azmin Ali and Zaid Ibrahim battle it out for the number two spot in PKR.
I never really understood the venom that goes into political party elections. I mean, you are all on the same team, right?
So, whoever wins, as long as it is the better person, then the whole team wins.
This being the case, there is no need for any viciousness, just a simple statement of intent and policy should be enough.
Then let the members choose. Simple.
Especially with the won­derful one-member one-vote system that PKR has implemented.
Each member has a voice, and that is empowering.
I am sure they can make up their minds on who is best for the job without the need for big-shot party members making declarations of support even before nominations are in.
All these press conferences and declarations of loyalty look awfully 1984 (the book, not the year) to me.
Besides there is something tawdry and terribly sycophantic about making such premature public declarations of support.
Kind of like the kid in school who will go out of his way to please teacher.
No one likes a teacher’s pet.
Speaking of teacher’s pets, I really like the name 1Malaysia Youth Graduands.
It truly sounds like a name a group of teacher’s pets would come up with.
Anyway, 1Malaysia Youth Graduands is the new NGO that made a police report against the Bar Council recently.
This is because, according to them, some of the booklets in the Bar Council’s My Constitution campaign are seditious.
Namely, the booklet that says that elected MPs can change the Constitution.
It’s all so pathetic, really.
All it takes is for a person to actually read the Constitution to see that it can be changed, and the main agent for change is the Legislature.
For some provisions, it requires a majority vote in the lower and upper houses of Par­lia­ment.
For others it needs a two-thirds majority in both Houses and the approval of the Council of Rulers.
In fact, the Constitution has been changed many times. On average about once a year ever since independence.
So I am not quite sure just what got 1Malaysia Youth Gra­duands’ (oh, I just love that name) drawers in a twist.
It would be nice to see them debate with the Bar Council about just how elected parliamentarians voting to change the Constitution is seditious since the Consti­tution actually allows for it.
Another constitutional debate I would really like to see would be between MPs Nurul Izzah Anuar and Ibrahim Ali regarding the interpretation of Article 153.
I know it is unlikely because Ibrahim Ali probably does not like to be beaten by one so young, and a woman at that.
Which is a shame because such a debate will be truly meaningful politically.
It will draw an intellectual line between PKR and Perkasa (and whichever other group that thinks like them), and this will inject much needed ideological balance to the political landscape of this country.
Such an event would mean so much more than yet another press conference over the PKR party elections.
It would even mean so much more than a debate over which is tastier, lemang or ketupat.
Have a safe and happy Id.