Have Putrajaya’s backbenchers taken a back seat?

On New Year’s Day, I am often asked what my New Year resolution will be. It never works for me. However, this year, I am really hoping that my New Year’s wish will come true.

I am wishing that we will see more serious efforts being put into the check and balance process, not just from the opposition bench but also from the government backbenchers. Not in theory but in the real sense of the word.

I mourn the passing of this basic political principle simply because only a handful of elected representatives are voicing out their thoughts, feelings, concerns and objections to the many lopsided and condescending actions and policies of the Pakatan Harapan government.

No doubt, politicians like Ramkarpal Singh, Hanipa Maidin, Jeffrey Kitingan, Wee Ka Siong, P Ramasamy and Charles Santiago, to name a few, are constantly in the news, acting as a voice of consciousness, but the majority have become a silent majority if we care to admit it.

We might not want to acknowledge the role former prime minister Najib Razak is playing now as the main opposition voice but we cannot run away from that fact that he has indeed become Mr Opposition with his trolls and comments.

It wasn’t so long ago that the DAP wore this mantle with distinction and was the mainstay of this check and balance process. Who can forget how they strongly objected to RUU 335 – the bill on amending the Shariah Courts Act – for example? Their leaders were ejected from Parliament many times when they spoke up against what DAP felt were injustices that were being forced down the throats of the people.

They were seen as the voice of the man on the street. They were there to check on the excessiveness of the Barisan Nasional government. They were, figuratively speaking, our knights in shining armour, if you like. But not any more.

Even among the PKR leaders then, they had brave MPs who thundered their way in Parliament. They wanted to be heard. They demanded to be heard. Now, there is hardly a whisper from these MPs.

This has led to the current situation where the government has come up with meaningless ideas, strategies and programmes which have no benefit to the people in real terms.

Take the ruling on black shoes for school children, for instance. The government has not explained clearly the rationale for such a decision.

Nor has it explained the delay in recognising the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC) qualification. There are no dissenting voices. There are no reminders being heard loud and clear to speed up this particular promise in the PH manifesto from both sides of the political divide.

As long as it stays this way, the PH government can and will continue to ride roughshod over all others.

Something’s got to give. Some political force must take the bull by its horns and confront this situation and stem this unwanted and unwarranted practice before it is too late.

What we are witnessing now is the rapid decline of this check and balance process.

We are, instead, witnessing situations best described as an unchecked and imbalanced process.

Clement Stanley is an FMT reader.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.