Te whetu Orongo

The collection of taxes which are not beyond reasonable doubt absolutely required, which do not contribute to the public welfare, is only a species of legalised larceny.

— Calvin Coolidge, 30th US President

Policymakers coin such cute phrases and expect to judge the wrongdoer to this standard that must be met by the prosecution’s evidence in a criminal prosecution: that no other logical explanation can be derived from the facts except that the defendant committed the crime, thereby overcoming the presumption that a person is innocent until proven guilty.

“You better be damned sure” is probably a more coarse and appropriate definition because the word “reasonable” varies within different contexts,
cultures, creeds, communities and consciences.

What a blessing it would be in the realm of government and politics if this standard is applied to written constitutions, civil laws and transparent consciences.

Breaching thus violating any provision of the written constitution or a civil law is akin to law-breaking, and this ought to be a crime, or a tort at least, for the sake of honest governance.

Take for example, Article 57 of the Federal Constitution which has now become a hot-button issue concerning the removal of the current Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat.

This Article provides only for his appointment and resignation, and it is silent about removal. If he is incapacitated, abdicates, or dies in Office, then a fresh election in Parliament becomes mandatory to fill the post.

Now, can the powers-that-be justify his removal under the supreme law of the land when no such power exists? The disqualification of a Speaker is another matter which will become necessary if he is engaged in any business relationship from which he receives a benefit or advantage whether pecuniary or otherwise.

Be that as it may, can a Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat be replaced or removed from office because he decided to follow the Standing Orders in allowing certain motions to be tabled as is his duty and obligation under the Constitution?

The answer is a resounding “no” because he proved beyond a reasonable doubt his core values and interests to the House Standing Orders in conformity with the supreme law of the land. Those wanting to replace and remove him should be put to the same standard.

Can they prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they are justified in removing him as Speaker because he complied with and adhered to the Standing Orders of the Dewan Rakyat?

The IGP — Intellectually Guided People — of Malaysia have issues with the IGP — Inspector General of Police — when it comes to finding some fugitives. One has fled the country after receiving the death sentence for murder most foul when the body of the victim was C-4ed.

Another, involved in biggest Malaysian money scandal is said to be hiding in a known location where extradition is virtually impossible. Yet another has kidnapped his daughter after fleeing his creed while the separated mother pines away for her child.

Why is the top cop not checked by the beyond a reasonable doubt standard when it comes to the performance of his duties? Some believe the
fugitive as a major witness maybe conveniently made to be absent because no fearless prosecution can yield a conviction without his crucial testimony.

In a recent media report headlined as “The man leading our men and women in blue,” a cheap imitation of the American mantra, the top cop agreed there are some bad apples in the Force.

He, however, went on to lament that he will not allow “wrongdoings to thrive,” and commended those honest officers who constitute his current focus on motivating to higher standards. Perhaps beyond a reasonable doubt that they will do their job come hell or high water.

It is sad and depressing to know that much is paraded in the Rukun Negara about the five virtues most meaningful for good government which ominously suffers from reasonable doubt.

The rakyat bears the ultimate responsibility to wipe out all degrees of doubt when good governance is quickly achieved. A “silent majority” worrying about being watched, taxed, sued and muzzled will not cut it.

An “active minority” comprising members of the executive, legislature and judiciary running doubtful government is wholly worrisome and obviously
frightful.

The “are you damned sure” standard has become utterly and totally necessary for good governance because ultimately it’s the people who matter and care. The beyond a reasonable doubt standard must apply to both the giver of the power and the taker of that power.

People must become accountable and responsible for this power-entrusting duty. Those entrusted with power must go where no man dared before beyond all doubt, not just reasonable doubt. Thus will good governance and good government offer a practical and perfect balance.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the New Sarawak Tribune.