On Friday when I wrote about Shahrir Samad’s monumental step in bipartisanship politics in a recent parliamentary event when he supported DAP Lim Kit Siang’s privilege motion against BN politician for Jasin, I wouldn’t be surprised if I had been the first to point that out, rather than on what most observers/commentators discussed about, the principled but mere resignation of Shahrir.
His resignation on principle was an after-event but his support for Lim’s motion was far more important and ground-breaking in BN's parliamentary politics.
And I criticised Nazri Abdul Aziz, Minister in the PM’s department, who stated that BN MPs won’t support a motion tabled by the opposition. Then the DPM said the stupid same thing, even reprimanding Shahrir to punish himself (padan muka) for going against the party, and that Shahrir should stay resigned. Oh no, you won’t get this DPM’s comment in the New Straits Times. And the PM on his return from overseas supported the DPM’s acceptance of Shahrir’s resignation.
With such BN leadership indicated by the obdurate stand of the PM and DPM, we grief that there could never be bipartisanship politics for the good of the nation. Sure, we may rail against their shallow understanding of parliamentary responsibilities in a democracy towards the national interests, but we can only lament our pissed poor democratic institutions.
Since then, Lim Kit Siang and many Malaysiakini readers have joined my lamentation in the PM, DPM and the general body politic failing to seize a God-given opportunity to raise parliamentary conduct to a new praiseworthy high. Lim said:
“It is most shameful as it as good as a proclamation of the inability of the Malaysian Parliament and the 92 percent BN membership to make the basic distinction between right and wrong.”
Now, the sh*t has hit the fan, and in what Malaysiakini reported as an open revolt by BN backbenchers, they today demanded the reinstatement of Shahrir as the head of the Backbenchers Club (BBC). They refused to accept his resignation and will propose for his re-election at a special meeting tomorrow.
The backbenchers said it was their right to decide on who leads them and in an obvious snub to the DPM (and the PM), added that it was irrelevant if others accepted the resignation.
Not only that, the backbenchers demanded greater powers and said the rule that government parliamentarians cannot support opposition motions must not be cast in stone. They want to evaluate each opposition motion on its merit.
If there is no midnight deals by the BN or UMNO Whip to mitigate this unprecedented rebellion within BN parliamentarians, this could well be the most significant watershed in Malaysian parliamentary history.
And if things come to pass joyously, KTemoc can even proudly claim to be the one to draw to the attention of Malaysians, especially BN MPs, to the concept of bipartisan politics. ;-)
OK, perhaps I got carried away by my delight - admittedly Shahrir Samad is very popular, and his principled stand must have evoked the BN MPs' nobler nature, microscopic as that might be.