Let stake­hold­ers have a say

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPEAK UP -

I NJuly 2013, a con­tro­ver­sial amend­ment to the Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Is­lamic Law (Fed­eral Ter­ri­to­ries) Act was with­drawn af­ter ob­jec­tions from all sec­tions of so­ci­ety. The amend­ment would mean grant­ing ei­ther par­ent of a child be­low the age of 18 the right to con­vert the child to Is­lam.

The front-page head­line said it suc­cinctly: “Mom or dad?” Since both par­ents gave life to the child and are re­spon­si­ble for his or her growth, why should it be that only one is enough to de­cide?

In the af­ter­math, I pieced the events that pre­ceded that his­toric with­drawal and asked some note­wor­thy ques­tions: “For the deputy prime min­is­ter (DPM) to come down from the pedestal and make a U-turn, is in­deed note­wor­thy and a hum­bling ex­pe­ri­ence. Ear­lier in sup­port­ing its tabling, the DPM said it had been dis­cussed at length in the cab­i­net, that it was based on a Fed­eral Court de­ci­sion and con­sti­tu­tional pro­vi­sions. Now in with­draw­ing the Bill, he says the Cab­i­net has de­cided to with­draw it due to var­i­ous views from com­po­nent par­ties.

“It is an anom­aly of sorts. If it was dis­cussed at length in the Cab­i­net, we can only as­sume that none of the min­is­ters from com­po­nent par­ties ob­jected. If there had been ob­jec­tions, are we to as­sume that such ob­jec­tions were over-ruled? Did we have to go through all these ver­bal skir­mishes and ugly ar­gu­ments if some se­ri­ous thought had been put into it or if there was con­sul­ta­tion in the first place?”

Now, we are find­ing our­selves in the same sticky sit­u­a­tion with the pro­nounce­ment by the ur­ban well­be­ing, hous­ing and lo­cal gov­ern­ment min­is­ter, Tan Sri Noh Omar, that hous­ing devel­op­ers could start lend­ing money to house buy­ers. When min­is­ters make pol­icy statements, the pub­lic as­sumes that he is the voice of the gov­ern­ment and his take is that of a col­lec­tive Cab­i­net de­ci­sion.

Now, af­ter all the brouhaha and tonnes of newsprint and sev­eral hours of air­time, we are told by no less than the deputy prime min­is­ter that Noh shot his mouth and in the process, his foot, with­out fel­low min­is­ters know­ing a word about his pre­pos­ter­ous pro­posal.

In short, this man whose propen­sity to open his mouth with­out en­gag­ing his brains in gear, has been chron­i­cled and archived in sev­eral ma­jor pub­li­ca­tions.

But the is­sue is not about an in­di­vid­ual and it should ap­ply to all Cab­i­net min­is­ters. Shouldn’t there be a con­sul­ta­tion paper when the gov­ern­ment makes new poli­cies or changes to ma­jor poli­cies.

I have said it be­fore and it’s worth re­peat­ing. We take pride in prac­tis­ing the West­min­ster sys­tem but why isn’t the gov­ern­ment con­sult­ing stake­hold­ers be­fore mak­ing de­ci­sions?

In the pre­lude to the last gen­eral election, the prime min­is­ter ad­mit­ted that the “days of the gov­ern­ment knows best were over”. He gave an as­sur­ance that the rakyat would be con­sulted.

That was in March 2013. Four months later, the amend­ments were pre­pared and tabled with no con­sul­ta­tion what­so­ever. This whole page will be needed to list out other is­sues which were ei­ther pre­sented or forced down the throat of cit­i­zens.

The de­ci­sion by the Hu­man Resource De­vel­op­ment Fund to use em­ploy­ers’ money to con­grat­u­late the min­is­ter for be­ing be­stowed a Datuk­ship is one. To land­lords to con­duct im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus checks on ten­ants be­fore pro­vid­ing res­i­den­tial ac­com­mo­da­tion, with fi­nan­cial penal­ties for those land­lords who let prop­erty to il­le­gal mi­grants hav­ing failed to con­duct the ne­c­es­sary checks.”

Sim­i­larly, our min­is­ter could have put out a sim­ple note: “The con­sul­ta­tion seeks views from in­ter­ested par­ties on a pro­posal to al­low hous­ing devel­op­ers to give loans un­der the Money Lenders Act to prospec­tive buy­ers. This pro­posal is to en­able those who are not el­i­gi­ble for loans from the banks to own house …”

I am not ask­ing for ev­ery­one to be con­sulted but in­vite re­sponses from stake­hold­ers and or­gan­i­sa­tions with spe­cial­ist knowl­edge in that area. Re­sponses from Joe Pub­lic who is a spe­cial­ist or well-versed in a par­tic­u­lar area could also be called to give his ex­pert views.

To the gov­ern­ment and its min­is­ters, please ac­cept the PM’s view that the days of you know what’s best for the peo­ple are gone. Treat the rakyat as in­tel­li­gent hu­man be­ings who can no longer be con­vinced with just prom­ises.

the­Sun’s front page on July 3, 2013.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.