The new government’s priorities should be to restore the rule of law, redress miscarriages of justice and bring about reforms to our public institutions.
ON May 10, Malaysians woke up to a new country, signaling the dawn of a new era.
The unprecedented GE14 results have obviously proved to the world that we the citizens are the masters of our own ship – we decide when and whether to repair, sink and rebuild it, let alone rock it! We should also take pride in the smooth and peaceful transfer of power.
But GE14 victors should not use it to exact revenge on the vanquished in that they have received their comeuppance or take delight in their political schadenfreude. Instead, the new government’s priorities should be to restore the rule of law, redress miscarriages of justice and bring about reforms to our institutions of government.
What then is the rule of law? This concept of the rule of law is also the fourth guiding principle of our Rukun Negara. To make it simple for our readers, it is best summed up in the words of Dr Thomas Fuller, who wrote in 1733, “Be you never so high, the law is above you.” In other words, no one including the king could disregard the law with impunity. As the English jurist, Henry Bracton (c. 1210 – c. 1268) put it, “the king is under no man but under God and the law because the law makes the king”.
In Malaysia, the ascendancy of the law is also enshrined in Article 8 of the Federal Constitution that all persons are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of the law.
It is ironic that the reforms are now being pursued at great pace by the new Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who was also the old Prime Minister who had pursued Machiavellian policies and undermined some of the institutions during his previous rule.
But he is now one person most loved by Malaysians and best suited to undertake this restoration, and rightly so because without him, whether one likes it or not, Pakatan Harapan would not have won GE14.
What is most gratifying, however, is what Tun Mahathir said when he first took office, that the component parties in Pakatan are of equal standing, regardless of the number of seats respectively secured by them. This is unlike the component parties in Barisan Nasional who had to kowtow to the dominant party UMNO.
Likewise, the Prime Minister’s relationship with his cabinet will be governed by the concept of primus inter pares or first among equals.
It is hoped that Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim who has turned 70 will be now wiser. My generation remembers the damage caused by his pursuit of ethnocentric policies and ‘crony capitalism’ when he was a deputy prime minister.
It is also good for him to always remember that when he was at his lowest ebb when first arrested on September 20, 1998, it was those from the opposition such as Lim Kit Siang and Karpal Singh who had gone to his aid. Hence, it remains a prayer of all Malaysians that when he takes over the reins, he will be a benevolent leader pursuing inclusive policies, making every Malaysian feel that they have a sense of belonging in this great nation. After all, it is a Malaysian tsunami that swept Pakatan into power.