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Universal Suffrage for PM and AG?

06/09/2016

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Corruption and abuse of power are the main reasons why our country is not progressing to where it should be.  It has been said it is the Prime Minister (PM) who can change it and an independent Attorney General  (AG) to execute the laws (as the MACC has no prosecution power) in oder to make it happens.

Under the Article 43(2)(a) of the Federal Constitution, our PM who is a member of the Dewan Rakyat is appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to preside over the Cabinet, who in his judgment is likely to command the confidence of the majority of the members of that DR.  It has been a convention that the President of Umno is usually the person commands the majority confidence when BN wins in the past GE.

Whether such convention is good or not is subject to argument especially with today’s scenario.  This is so when the PM has to rely on Umno members in order to secure his position. It could well be the reason why his hands are tight in order to implement policies that are not in favour of the warlords etc. Simply put regardless of how noble or visionary the PM is, he can be under threat or manipulated, hence he is obliged to some of the leaders in order to hold on to his position.

Perhaps it is high time to change such grossly over centralised politics or outdated system.  We may consider whether the PM should be directly elected by the people.  This would considerably increase accountability, independence and lead to a much clearer separation of powers ( I know some are against such reform by quoting Israel or the rejected similar proposal in UK and Thailand previously as an example.  We need to realise the present situation in our country is different).

In principle, a directly elected PM may be more accountable and “stronger” in the sense that he can be removed from office by popular vote.

I believe with direct election of the PM, he can concentrate on his power and could possibly makes our nation more sustainable and predictable (I am referring to any PM and not DS Najib only).

As for the AG enough has been said about his controversial dual-role which often seen as favouring the ruling government.  We must admit it, there is a breakdown in the balance of operation in our government system here.

Under Article 145, he is appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on the advice of the PM.

It is the AG’s responsibility to ensure that the laws are enforced, regardless of who is he or she.  Yet in our current system the AG’s loyalty is torn between the laws he swears to uphold and the PM.

The answer to this issue lies not in decrying the politicisation  of the AG’s office by PM but instead in making the AG independent and politically accountable through nationwide election.  He will be then has the democratic legitimacy and mandate to even check the power of the PM (again I am not referring to DS Najib) and his cabinet while ensuring the laws of the land are enforced.

In addition if an elected AG gain his position from voter preferences, his independence would not create conflicts with the PM’s ability to implement his policies.

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