In the new Malaysia, one thing should be made crystal clear to every Malaysian: It was the people who chose Pakatan Harapan (PH), specifically under the leadership of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as the prime minister, to form the government. And, this must be respected by all. Whatever the politicking, the overriding factor on which a decision is finally made, must be respect for the choice of the people.
So, why was there a delay in the swearing in of the Prime Minister after the May 9 elections? Why was there an issue over the choice of a mentri besar for Selangor? Why were two candidates sworn in as the chief minister of Sabah and why is that issue still unresolved?
The peoples’ choice was Tun as PM. That was part of the package in voting in PH. In doing so, the people gave him the right to choose his Cabinet ministers, deputies and government heads, chief ministers and mentri besar. So, there should not have been any delay in swearing in his choices. His choices are the choices of the people
Why, then, were there delays? Because of politicking. Interlopers wanted to seize the fluidity of the transition period to place themselves and their people in advantageous positions. That’s politics but it isn’t respecting the will of the people.
The surest way to cut down on the politicking to ensure a smooth transition of power to the parties/coalitions fairly elected is to simply spell out the procedures for transition in the Federal Constitution.
Perhaps, currently, there is some ambiguity in the Federal Constitution that allows for significant players to seize the opportunity to push for their candidates. That can be easily stopped if the Federal Constitution clearly spells out the procedures for the transfer of power.
Amendments can be made to the constitution to add the procedures that must be taken to install a new government. These steps should include a time frame within which the new leader must be sworn in and the time by which the Election Commission should officially announce the results. The procedures must include whether it is the PM or the party or coalition who must submit the names for the mentri besar or chief minister of the state and the number of names to be submitted. The protocol must also state that the swearing in of the mentri besar and chief ministers must come after and not at the same time or before the swearing in of the PM.
These details can be discussed and finalized during the debate in Parliament. Parliament should also settle, once and for all, the oaths that the leaders take. There must be a standard oath for the PM and another or the same for Cabinet ministers, the mentri besar or chief minister.
This will ensure that no one can insert any clause into the oath to secure their position with regard to the candidate. The procedures must be listed so clearly that it will be the standard practice with any government, federal or state, after every general or state elections.
Once the procedures are transparently set out, it would be clear to all concerned just what they should do when there is a change of government. All the delays and politicking we witnessed after May 9 will be greatly reduced or entirely eliminated.
I believe this must be the first reform that the current government must introduce in the first sitting of the seventh Parliament. PH and its allies form nearly a two-thirds majority in Parliament. This issue, however, will appeal to all Members of Parliament, including those from the Opposition as they, too, may want a smooth transition of power should they take over the government sometime in the future.
PH would need to lobby for the support of the Opposition to pass this amendment in Parliament if a two-thirds majority is needed.
When that amendment is made to the Federal Constitution, the people’s will is firmly established and protected and everyone is expected to conform without debate or politicking. Most importantly, the opportunity to change leaders at the last minute will be greatly curtailed and a stable changeover can be expected in accordance with the will of the people.
That will be the first real evidence the people will see of a commitment to the rule of law in this country.