I received a text message from my good friend, Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam, urging me to support the People's Parliament. Then again, before we throw our support into yet another initiative we should ask this question: what is the people's parliament?
My initial reaction was to reflect on the parliament - is it a people's parliament? A parliament by the people, for the people is an important clarion of a truly democratic nation. If the elected representatives in the august house are elected by the people to represent their views, interests and hopes, then why should we need another NGO effort to create a People's Parliament unless something is obviously not right here.
I am tempted to ask Harris when I see him again. What is his purpose in setting up a People's Parliament. Not that I am against the idea but I sense a duplication of effort here unless the parliament (lower house) is not democratically elected. Afterall, the lower house is known as Dewan Rakyat (People's Assembly or Parliament?).
Wong Chin Huat, in an interview, said that there were many similar attempts before, including Suqiu, and none of them have succeeded in creating an electoral impact. Wong was the executive secretary of Suqiu.
So, why do need a People's Parliament? Can it work? Aren't the parliamentarians elected by the people? Who are these people? Are they different from the people who formed the NGO-run People's Parliament?
I see it differently. I support any effort to educate our people on the importance of representation in the parliament and that they are the real bosses, not the politicians. Hence, efforts should be focused on educating our people and to make them realise that they can make a change to improve policy formulation, governance and policy implementation if they choose the right people to represent them.
Malaysian politics must move beyond the myopic distinction between races. What it is now is a realist politics. Malaysians of different races are told that their interest are best protected under the current race-centric model. As a result, a recalcitrant politician who beats his chest and shouts racial rhetoric will most probably be hailed as his community's hero. Why make a hero out of a racist? In the end, this culprit is the one who pockets all the goodies at the expense of the people he claimed to protect.
If you have read the exchanges I had with a particular anonymous visitor here, you would have noticed the silly and divisive views posted. Yet, I am not surprised that he may be right that many Malaysians are thinking like him. Not only the Malays but Chinese too.
Coming back to Harris' project. I respect him greatly. And I know he sincerely wanted a change for the better. He told me that he saw himself as a Malaysian first. I support the People's Parliament project but I have this to say. We deserve the government we elected for. To those who think that it is all but hopeless, let me ask you this: what have you done to contribute to the change?
If you are just an armchair critic and the closest you think of making a different is to migrate, then I challenge to act and not just talk. Malaysia needs more Malaysians.