Yesterday, I had a conversation with a Penang BN state leader who is widely known as a conscience of his party. He related to me his political experience in the past which compelled him to make critical statements against the ruling coalition. His party is a member of the ruling coalition.
In those instances, he was asked to toe the line and to tone down his criticism or face stern disciplinary action. And in those instances too, he did not cross the line. He argues that he had chosen to work within the ruling coalition to effect change and to implement his projects for the benefit of the people. Granted, a dead politician is not an effective politician. It is a widely used reason for outspoken politicians in the ruling coalition to justify their stay in the front.
Recently, he has spoken out strongly against the government's intention to silence discussions over the controversial NEP issue. This time, he is prepared to face any action. He said, "the government cannot shut out the people!" Very well said.
In return, I told him I noticed that politicians who are retiring tend to be more outspoken and not too risk averse. Perhaps there is nothing more they would need to do to ensure their own political survival. Suddenly, the throat clears up. The desire to speak the voices of the people returns.
Bravo! This is what a political struggle is all about. One should join politics to effect change in the society - a change for the better. But more than often personal interest outweighs the public interest.
Back to our discussion, he told me party politics is a team work. His idea of team work is communitarianism. If one cannot agree with the team (the party leadership) on the fundamental direction of the party, then one should pack up and leave. I agree partially.
Team work is essential but the party ideology and basic struggle is even more important. If the leadership is not willing to embrace and practice the ideology and lost sight of the struggle then they must make way for a more committed new leadership. Otherwise, right minded members of the party have a duty to persevere for a leadership change.
Similarly, any Malaysian who refuses to accept Malaysia as a Malay dominant and an Islamic state cannot be asked to pack his bag and leave the country, just because the ruling elites think that it is a Malay dominated country and an Islamic state.
It is time to review the practice of communitarian politics (or the herd mentality).