Contractarians and contrarians

The essence of the independent mind lies not in what it thinks, but how it thinks.

—  Christopher Hitchens, American critic

The Big Uneasy in Malaysia today is the lack of telos (Greek) — ultimate aim or goal — which evidences cognitive distortions in leadership actively engaged in rearranging the deck chairs of the Titanic. Rational minds guided by logic and reason capable of undertaking diagnostic activity to solve problems is the kind of leadership sorely lacking.

Contractarians and contrarians emerged with the development of the western political theory advanced by the Greeks hundreds of years before Christ requiring citizens to give up some of their rights to promote governance through government while Chanakya, Confucius, Mencius (350-189 BC) sought the cultivation of virtue for the safety and sanctity of society suitable for the orient.

For thousands of years, the west went with “I am, therefore Thou art,” while the east went with “Thou art, there I am.”

The Islamic scholar Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406), considered one of the greatest political theorists, defined government as “an institution which prevents injustice other than such as it commits itself.” This is the ultimate tool needed to protect Malaysian democracy.

Thomas Hobbes’ “social contract” brought contractarians and contrarians to adopt diametrically opposite positions concerning the best course for politics and government depending on who is holding the gun. Winston Churchill led Great Britain to victory during WW2 only to lose the elections soon after.

Abraham Lincoln, M K Gandhi, Patrice Lumumba, John F Kennedy of Congo, and other political luminaries suffered the same fate when the contractarians and contrarians held similar intentions to alter the course of history.

Malaysia’s problems with party politics take centre stage when carefully picked contractarians and contrarians have inspired a culture of lickspittles who fail to realise that they are contributing to the root cause of the rot in government. Problem solvers seem to have gone into hiding.

If a new government happens after Parliament convenes, it must amend the Federal Constitution to reflect a set of new values aimed solely at making Malaysia a great society socially, culturally, economically and politically. A new breed of contractarians and contrarians must jump-start a permanent people-centric manifesto.

MA63, for example, must be constitutionally protected by necessary amendments following the findings by the Federal Court in Pihak Berkuasa Negeri Sabah v Sugumar Balakrishnan [2002] 3 MLJ 72 and Datuk Hj Mohammad Tufail bin Mahmud & Ors v Dato Ting Check Sii [2009] 4 MLJ 165; [2009] 4 CLJ 449. These two cases upheld the sanctity of the Inter-Governmental Committee Report and MA63.

This constitutional amendment to entrench MA63 and the IGCR makes perfect sense when the High Court held that it would be unsuitable for a challenge against the breach of MA63 by way of judicial review because (p.727) “the reliefs show that there is no relief seeking to squash the decision of any public authorities . . .” See Fung Fon Chen & Anor. v The Government of Malaysia & Anor [2012- 8 CLJ 706 (HC).

The motivation to set things right must become a daily habit like bathing, consuming food and an eight-hour sleep. Contractarians and contrarians who never let abate their passion for ideas must be the front-liners in our system of government.

Since September 2015, it is said that the Federal Constitution underwent 57 Amendments since it was enacted in 1957 including repeals as afforded under Article 159 FC. One of the most controversial amendments was the Constitution (Amendment) Act 1971 which came in the wake of the May 13, 1969 racial riots.

Contractarians and contrarians need to come together to amend the FC to entrench laws like the National Merit Act governing appointments, promotions and terminations of key personnel in the public and private sectors; the Racial Discrimination Act to penalise those who stoke racial tensions; and most importantly the Independence of the Judiciary Act and the Separation of Powers Act.

The young in war-ridden Middle East countries are trained to wield weapons to face another day of bloodshed. In Malaysia, our young seem to wait on government handouts because merit is ignored like the plague. We need to correct this malaise.

Leaders must be prepared and poised to tackle non-textbook problems as the Information Age takes a quantum leap. The need to be addicted to excellence will be a welcome sign of much needed change in leadership with contractarians and contrarians raising the bar.

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

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