Te whetu

The ballot is stronger than the bullet.

– ABRAHAM LINCOLN, 16TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES

Poor Abe lost his life instead of an election. The bullet sang its ballad while the ballot stood still, stunned and speechless. Fortunately, the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments, through the reinstituted and reconstituted ballot, came into existence which made America “great” after 1865 at the end of the Civil War which witnessed the “freeing” of slaves.

Earlier, in 1798, while the US Constitution was being ratified, the French citizenry went on a rampage throwing caution to the wind, abandoned the ballot, lobbed a few heads instead, restored law and order, and the rest is military. Ballot and bullet got restored in good measure in equal proportions. Vive “public policy”.

Voters’ rights and their voices are usually muffled when politics and politicians battle it out for exerting and exercising their transient rights to their temporary positions of power noticeably when a sitting government evaporates into nothingness due to self-interests as recently witnessed in Peninsular Malaysia.

The imperfect storm was explained away as a necessity for the advancement and well-being of public welfare and public policy. This chicanery packaged in a charade captures the spirit and soul of the Malaysian ethos and pathos where race, religion, region, revenge and rage run amok.

The oppressive laws of free speech, association and assembly in Malaysia look temptingly good on paper but hardly matter when voters’ rights seem ready for the auctioneer’s gavel, or otherwise as a great talking point only in the marketplace of ideas. Laws and written constitutions step aside in these surreal conditions. Voters seem helpless, hapless, and hopeless.

The Malaysian Federal Constitution (FC) becomes an abandoned warehouse of wrongs and rights during a political upheaval as we are currently witnessing. The FC is silent as to what happens to “government” if nobody votes. It is ambivalent about one man, as an Article 43(2) FC prime minister, assuming all Cabinet posts, and running government with the help of senior civil servants while Parliament is yet to convene for the normal running of government.

It is at cross-purposes as to the powers of the Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat. The FC is ambiguous as to the trite aphorism “equal under the law” with Article 153 FC standing guard as the sword of Damocles. It is adamant about the veracity and efficacy of unconstitutional laws that get promulgated by Parliament where special and vested interests are patently evident.

So, do voters in Malaysia really have rights after their vote is cast? The FC is also reckless when it comes to sudden overnight political affiliations and alliances. It is especially deadpan with the irrelevant and resource-wasting portfolio of deputy prime minister.

So, do we have a supreme law of the land applicable to all who are equal under the law? The answer to this question will cure and end Malaysia’s malaise.

Voters’ rights require a separate Bill of Rights enumerated to engage every possible, plausible, probable or potential exigency, emergency or contingency. A vivid example is Sarawak’s remarkable Adat Iban which wisely elucidates a unique way of life where every action, inaction and reaction is enumerated for the well-being of this Indigenous group.
The Constitution of Sarawak being the supreme law of Sarawak (Article 27) awaits amendments to include such a Bill of Rights to consolidate the terms and conditions of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 packaged with its inalienable and inherent rights as a Borneo Territory.

With the current gasbag gaseous government in play in Purtrajaya, Sarawak has a clear mandate to look beyond the federal appointments for GPS MPs, and insist on revisiting and remedying this international treaty, with England, Sabah and Malaya deliberating the 18-Points and 20-Points Agenda in the United Nations since this treaty is on record thereat under Article 73 of the UN Charter.

It will be futile and unfavourable for Sarawak and Sabah to participate in a constitutional amendment debate in the Dewan Rakyat as the Malaysia Agreement 1963 is an international law issue that requires the jurisdiction of jus gentium (international law) to set things right and proper under the rule of law. Malaya simply lacks the constitutional right or standing to settle an international issue because its political fixtures, fractures, fictions, fixations, and fantasies bear ample testimony to its genuinely sewer politics. It will never work to Sarawak’s advantage.

Sarawak is in a very powerful, authoritative, strong and stable bargaining position with its A-status from S&P Global Ratings. Sarawak must take advantage of this global recognition, and stand up to Putrajaya.

The ball is in GPS’s court requiring a powerful constitutional forehand with a rock-solid standby backhand. We can mind the fort, mend the fences, and bend the will of the villains. This is Sarawak’s legacy.

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