Malaysiakini Letter

Not right if nation's leader not picked by the people

Phlip Rodrigues
Published:  |  Modified:

The voice of the people is more important than the deceptive speeches of political leaders. Only people can give legitimacy to whatever direction the country takes – whether to the left, right, centre or in between.

By the power of the ballot, the common citizens can pick leaders whom they believe can steer the ship of state to a safe harbour.

The right to head a government must always be founded on the inviolable principle that the people are the true bastion of power. From them, political power flows and to them must power be answerable.

It is the common people who truly wield control over the destiny of the country. Only they can decide who is qualified to occupy the highest seat of government.

By the same token, they can also reject leaders deemed unscrupulous, tainted or inefficient.

But when a leader is picked by his own party to become its captain and hence automatically assumes the mantle of a national leader, it does not bode well for the well-being of the country.

Such political engineering is an attack on the concept of free choice in the sense that the people at large did not have a say in making the most important, historic decision – picking a leader for all the people.

Granted, people can express their anger by voting out the ruling alliance wholesale, thereby denying it the chance to allow its big brother from among its ranks from clutching the coveted prize.

Granted, parliamentary democracy – a much touted but crumpled badge – empowers the people to ditch anyone not of the people and for the people.

Granted, the party that commands the majority of the votes is entitled to hold the sceptre of supremacy. As long as it does not grab the high throne through the barrel of a gun, all is legitimate and moral.

But all these are beside the point. What is disturbing is that a leader has been chosen by his own party to ride roughshod over the wishes of the people who do not belong to any party and who see him as the harbinger of bad tidings.

It goes against the grain of reason that millions of people must accept as fait accompli someone already handpicked by an inner circle of supporters to unlock the door to power.

It goes against the tide of sane judgment that the people who matter most do not have the chance to grill a candidate for high office on account of a pre-determined political arrangement.

It defies logic that political power – a crucial journey in the affairs of Man – can be transferred arbitrarily without first reading the pulse of the nation.

It makes no sense for an outgoing leader to heap praise on his successor when the latter is looked upon with growing suspicion and distrust.

It is utterly obnoxious that the issue of succession can be settled like casting lots to decide ‘what every man should take’.

The clarion call for change has been ignored in the misguided belief that people can be manipulated by harping on their fears and exploiting their weaknesses so that the status quo can remain for another half-a-century.

The message written large on that historic day when hearts and minds coalesced to deliver a stunning blow to the ossified political structure is largely forgotten as criticism continues to be ‘silenced by force and not by reason’.

Politics is no longer a sincere desire to improve the human lot. It has become debased to the extent that the holders of high office feel that they have ‘a right to anything’ – rank, power, fame, money.

In this volatile climate, respect for political masters is dwindling, trust in institutions of the state eroding, belief in fair play evaporating. Soon, the stage will be set where only the will of the masses will be pitted against the might of a diseased state.

In such a contest, the people, once roused, will not surrender easily. In times gone by, people who were ‘too fond of justice’ had always triumphed.

It has been said that ‘whatever things leaders have got they hold them under a perpetual challenge’. Today, the challenge everywhere comes from the people. Today, leaders who are corrupt or commit heinous crimes are on the retreat in the face of public outrage.

Today, rulers who are unjust will be ‘tortured with a perpetual conflict’ until they make peace or provoke civil unrest with their subjects.

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