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The 15th general election is over. Although Pakatan Harapan does not have a clear majority, it is the coalition favoured by the majority of voters with 82 seats in Parliament as compared to its nearest rival Perikatan Nasional with 73 seats.

Politicians like to say that once the people have spoken, the choice of the people has to be respected and accepted. Why then are they not respecting and accepting the will of the people by allowing losers to get together to block the winner from taking office?

This is not the way our parliamentary democracy is supposed to function. Parliamentary democracy – as former attorney-general Tommy Thomas so eloquently argued in a recent article – demands that the leader of the party with the most number of seats in Parliament be invited to form the government. Instead, what we have is a clutch of defeated politicians scheming amongst themselves to deprive the winner of his right to try to form the government. 

As someone put it, it’s tantamount to losers asking other losers to make up the numbers to win. Is that fair? Is that democratic? Can a government formed through such chicanery claim to have any legitimacy or command the respect of voters? 

Let’s cut to the chase: our democracy is being subverted and undermined by parties which have lost simply to keep Anwar Ibrahim and Pakatan from power. If Perikatan Nasional had won the most seats, do you think we would even be having this discussion?

To be sure, many don’t like Anwar but his party won the most seats in Parliament and he has the support of 1.2 million more voters than his nearest rival. Ketuanan Melayu power brokers may not be happy that the DAP will return to Putrajaya as part of the Pakatan coalition but the people have spoken; their choice must be respected if we are to remain a democracy. 

If SDs signed by so-called ‘kingmakers’ are allowed to trump the vote and the voice of the people, then something has clearly gone wrong with our political system. It is being manipulated to keep certain leaders and parties out of office even if they win; it is skewered in favour of select actors instead of those who have won the right to rule. If the winning coalition is prevented from taking its rightful place at the head of the line, our democracy is dead and the voice of the people silenced. 

I hope our politicians will think long and hard before they make an absolute mockery of our system of constitutional electoral democracy.  Nullifying the voice and vote of the people will have terrible political consequences. It will take power from the people and put it in the hands of power brokers and kingmakers. It’s a slippery slope to dictatorship. 

[Dennis Ignatius |Kuala Lumpur | 21st November 2022]