6 May 2015
There has been a suggestion made that any political candidate must have at least a SPM credit in Bahasa Malaysia in order to stand for election. Apparently this is to ensure a high standard of debate in the House.
There are two problems with this suggestion. Firstly, the qualifications needed to be an MP should be as minimal as possible. This is because in a democracy it is up to the people to decide who they want to represent them. Therefore as far as possible the laws should not limit that scope of choice.
If people want to vote in a person who is illiterate because they feel he or she will best represent them, then that is the way it should be.
The second problem with this suggestion is that it somehow implies that a better grasp of the Malay language will lead to better debate. It may lead to a more grammatically correct debate but it will not lead to better debate.
Seriously, we have MPs who are blatantly racist and sexist. They say obnoxious things in the House. They probably say it in perfect BM, but so what? They are still obnoxious.
And what about ministers who don’t answer questions. This happens all the way to the top. Pertinent questions are given stock answers which evade the issue and does not actually deal with the query at hand.
And furthermore let us not forget the power of the Speaker. It is the Speaker who determines what can or can’t be debated and there are many times when a seemingly important matter of public interest is raised in Parliament, any debate is disallowed because the Speaker refuses to allow it.
Then there is the appalling practice of parliament. The way Bills are debated where MPs are given proposed laws literally hours before the debate, means that it is damned near impossible to structure a coherent argument. And parliamentarians do not get any help as they do in more advanced democracies where MPs actually have funding to hire a staff to help them with their work, which includes research so that they may have meaningful and well informed debates.
All these shortcomings cripple our parliament and yet some “genius” comes up with the grand plan to make a credit in BM compulsory in order to raise the standard of debate. Such an idea can only come from a person who is so enamoured at pushing a homogenising agenda in the country to the point that his or her thought process is incapable of delving any deeper than the shallowest of ideas.