Half-hour row in Parliament yesterday marked the end of one-year UMNO trap for PAS set by Jamil Khir in Parliament on March 27 last year claiming that Federal government ready to work with PAS Kelantan state government to implement hudud in Kelantan

The half-hour row in Parliament yesterday between the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom and the PAS MP for Pokok Sena, Datuk Mahfuz Omar, resulting in the latter’s ejection from the Dewan Rakyat, marked the end of the one-year UMNO trap for PAS set by Jamil in Parliament on March 27 last year claiming that the Federal government was ready to work with PAS Kelantan State Government to implement hudud in Kelantan.

Cleary, there was no such intention, but all Jamil Khir and the UMNO conspirators really wanted was to achieve their objective to destabilize, divide and destroy PAS and Pakatan Rakyat, which they had achieved to a great extent in the past 12 months.

But what Jamil Khir and the entire UMNO/Barisan Nasional leadership did not realise was that the trap they set directly for PAS and indirectly for Pakatan Rakyat was in fact a double-edged sword which could not only cause grave damage to Pakatan Rakyat but also to Barisan Nasional as well.

The UMNO conspirators have succeeded in their damage for Pakatan Rakyat, but they suddenly realized that the price of the success of such a plot against PAS and Pakatan Rakyat was to create a situation where the UMNO/BN coalition is also on the brink of unprecedented disaster.

This is the reason why the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak is suffering record-long “labour pains” in being unable to reiterate and reaffirm what had been the core nation-building policy of the first five Prime Ministers, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak, Tun Hussein, Tun Mahathir and Tun Abdullah and the UMNO/BN (previously Alliance) for 58 years – that hudud laws are against the Malaysian Constitution, the 1963 Malaysia Agreement and not suitable for a multi-racial and multi-religious nation like Malaysia.

I expect Najib to continue to duck from taking a clear stand that UMNO/BN opposes the PAS President Datuk Seri Hadi Awang’s private member’s bill on hudud implementation, although MCA and Gerakan Presidents and leaders had been claiming in the past week that Najib would announce the clear BN stand that UMNO/BN MPs would not support Hadi’s private member’s bill.

If Pakatan Rakyat is damaged, and Barisan Nasional is as good as damaged although MCA and Gerakan leaders will still cling to UMNO, then Malaysians must look into a post-BN, post-PR political landscape to explore the possibility of a new Federal government coalition with a new Prime Minister to defend constitutionalism and the rule of law.

This is the time for a national discussion and debate for such a new post-BN, post-PR political landscape.

As I have said, the new Prime Minister for such a post-BN, post-PR federal government coalition with support from MPs from both sides of the BN and PR divide, will not be Najib, and can be from Peninsular Malaysia, Sarawak or Sabah and can be a man or a woman.

Such a post-BN, post-PR federal government coalition must repair the multitude of wrongs, weaknesses and scandals that have crept into Malaysian governance in the past decades – in particular the principle that the Prime Minister is primus inter pares, “first among equals”.

In the present Cabinet, Najib is not “primus inter pares” but has almost a master-and-servant relationship with his Cabinet Ministers, which is totally against the spirit of parliamentary democracy.

Two important objectives of a post-BN, post-PR coalition must be the restoration of the important principle of the separation of powers among the executive, legislature and the judiciary and the restoration of the independence, credibility, professionalism and integrity of national institutions.

There are nine important agendas for this programme:

i. Restore the integrity of the judicial system and guarantee transparency and full independence of the Judicial Appointment Commission.

ii. Restructure the workings in Parliament to make it more transparent, democratic and able to perform its role of “check and balance”.

iii. Guarantee the direct accountability to Parliament of bodies such as the Election Commission, Anti-Corruption Commission, Human Rights Commission, Petronas, Khazanah and others.

iv. Ensure that the appointment of positions such as the Inspector General of Police, the Attorney General, the Anti-Corruption Commissioner and the Auditor General requires the approval of Parliament.

v. Create a National Ombudsman Department.

vi. Strengthen local government democracy and democratically enhance the competency and effectiveness of the delivery system and guarantee transparency at all levels.

vii. Free all media, amend the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984, enact a Freedom of Information Act and ensure Internet freedom.

viii. Enhance the performance of public service sector and ensure the welfare of its members. Ensure that the institution remains independent and able to perform its responsibilities competently.

ix. Empower and enhance civil society. Increase the participation of people through dialogues and consultations.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah