Democracy Without The Essence


Press Statement By Julian Tan:

The reality is that GPS has short-changed the voters for more than 50years. By depriving the opposing assemblymen of allocation of their constituency, they are undermining and discriminating SARAWAKIAN of their democratic rights and voices, especially so when the opposing assemblymen also being excluded from the action committees and not selected to helm the chairman’s post for the public accounts committee (PAC), a practice which observed by a healthy and progressive democratic country. It is only during PH government time that the PAC chairman must be held by the opposition to provide better check and balance on the executive’s power, effectively returning the people’s right to know and scrutinize how the government of the day spend taxpayer money via the watchful eye of the opposition. A good and clean government can withstand intense scrutiny and criticism.

The government of the day owes it to the voters on how Sarawakians’ money was spent and with that a well-spent money for the betterment of Sarawakian. Without transparency and check and balance, we risk wastages that otherwise could be used to fast-track the development in the state. Sadly after 50+ years of governing Sarawak by the GPS government (then under BN), Sarawakian have no idea how billions of state funds were utilised and not tally in terms of the development we should have been. The most recent happening during DUN seating is a good example when the opposition questions the details of major state agencies such as the DBOS and PETROS that involve billions of state funds they were turned down.

Progressiveness and speedy development are only possible if the essence of democratic governance is retained; namely, accountability, check and balance. Only when a healthy democracy is in place where its citizen can be treated fairly without discrimination. When the tax payer’s money is put into good use can we fast track development in line with the billions of money spent. We have inherited the democratic process of governance without the essence. The government of the day has basically ‘absolute power’; senators were appointed, and with no Local council election, mayors were also appointed. It is no surprise that those appointed tend to sing the tune of their political master.

The old narration that seats held by the opposition parties have missed out on urban development and will not be given priority is nothing but an embarrassment to us Sarawakian. It’s the exact opposite of a progressive government that Sarawakian need. Sawakian should not be held ransom on what is rightfully their democratic rights. This is one reason why in many 1st world countries that we envision becoming, mayors were elected by the people and not appointed as currently practiced by the GPS government. An elected mayor is the sole chief of the executive branch of the municipality. They are supposed to be apolitical, and this will ensure competency, transparency, and accountability, which are clearly in the best interests of the people in each constituency. Sarawakian themselves can choose for themselves by voting for the people they think can best serve them and not be used as a political tool. In many ways, they represent the first respondents to the problems faced by residents. This, indeed, demands from them greater accountability and transparency, especially to the people under their jurisdictions.

It is therefore not surprising that during PH government time, the GPS government is not supporting the federal government’s (PH government) plan to proceed with the local government elections in 2021 which requires the people to vote for their mayor, silencing the voice of Sarawakian and depriving us of our right for a check and balance and the right to appoint those whom we seem fit to run our cities.

The confidence and supply agreement (CSA) signed between Perak Menteri Besar Saarani Mohamad and the state opposition marked the new political milestone of reform in the country. The GPS state government should abandon its archaic practices of the last century. They have been running Sarawak in the most exclusive and opaque manner. GPS should learn from the Perak government, especially in giving equal allocations to all constituencies, so the people will not be ‘punished’ for supporting the opposition. The CSA agreement also required the Public Accounts Committee chairman must be an opposition assemblyman. Such is the beginning of check and balance, the essence of democratic governance we all need and can be proud of.