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Thursday, November 06, 2008

Can Anyone be Prime Minister?

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In the wake of Barrack Obama being elected the 44th President of the United States, many in Malaysia are now wondering if one day someone who's not a Malay can be the head of Government... can Anyone be Prime Minsiter?

Well, Walski must admit that what future ex-PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said today came as a surprise (hat tip: Marina M):

When contacted, however, Anyone declined to comment...

Okay, kidding aside... 

And, minor correction... it came as somewhat of a surprise. Until, of course, Walski looked up the Federal Constitution. Apparently, the appointment of the Prime Minister of Malaysia, by the Yang Di Pertuan Agong (Supreme Ruler), is loosely outlined in Article 43 of the Federal Constitution.

And the only criteria explicitly mentioned is that the person appointed must, in the judgement of the Agong, be "likely to command the confidence of the majority of the members of that House". 

House here meaning the Malaysian Parliament, of course, and not the insufferable doctor on TV, or any other house. Not even the big-ass house that UMNO calls home...

Which also means that what Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said in the article above is absolutely spot on: anybody can be Prime Minister of Malaysia.
(theory does not practice make, and more, in the full post)

Now, before you Ketuananistas reading this post  start going Article 153 on Walski's ass, do yourselves a favor and read the damn constitution first. And if you find anything anywhere in the Federal Constitution (of Malaysia) that says the PM has to be a certain ethnicity, gender or religion, do tell Walski where exactly it states that.

So yeah, if the Malaysian people so choose, any Tom, Dick, Abu, Sami or Ah Beng (or their female counterparts) could be Prime Minister.

From where, then, does the notion that the PM has to be Malay? Good question. And for once, Walski thinks he has a good answer.

It goes something like this: ever since Malaysia gained its independence in 1957, Malaysia (and Malaya up until 1963) has been ruled by the BN/Alliance, which has always been lead by UMNO. And up until March 8, BN/Alliance has always enjoyed 2/3 majority in Parliament.

Within BN/Alliance, the head of the coalition has always been the head of UMNO, presumably because of the number of seats in Parliament the party holds - Walski needs to verify this, of course, but it's something or other along these lines. So, in theory at least, as long as UMNO is dominant within BN, and BN holds a majority, whomever heads UMNO would, therefore, be Prime Minister, since he will always "command the confidence of the majority", no matter how slim that majority is, or how the real the confidence is (publicly, anyway).

It's as simple as that - a game of numbers.

Now, with anything that's been the same way for 51 years, some might be of the opinion that certain conventions are written in stone. Like saying the PM must be a Malay, or must be a Muslim... that sort of thing. Nothing of the sort is mentioned in the Constitution, in as far as Walski knows.

And so, the bottom line is that the current convention is not written in stone. Nor is it written in indelible ink. For reasons Walski's already mentioned above, that's just the way the cookie's been crumbling for the last half century.

Walski has read stuff on the web about how the Malaysian people don't get to choose their Prime Minister, and the choice is made based on 191 UMNO divisions nationwide. Does Walski agree with this observation?

Well... yes and no.

Yes, because as long as UMNO is dominant within BN, and as long as BN is able to form the government, the choice of who the PM will be does fall on the 191 UMNO divisions. 

No, because Walski thinks the Malaysian people do have a choice, albeit indirectly. And that choice was made on March 8th - the majority of elected MPs still came from BN.

There will undoubtedly be those who will choose to attack Walski because of this post, and say that Walski is being hurtful to the Malays, the Muslims, etc. But hey... go for it. The reality speaks for itself, and Walski merely pointing out the somewhat obvious. 

In any case, as it many a time happens, reality is not always something the Ketuananistas will readily accept. They'd rather be in denial and blissful ignorance. 

But that, Sahib, as Rudyard Kipling once wrote, is a totally other story....