MP SPEAKS | This has been happening at a troubling frequency: the Pakatan Harapan chairperson and Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad making unilateral decisions for the people.
Or that’s the pretty picture that Mahathir is sending – that he calls the shots despite coming from a minority party.
The latest controversy is the introduction of khat in schools. It is unfortunate that a beautiful form of calligraphy has been dragged through the mud by both the hoi polloi and the privileged.
And all of the discourses, over the last two weeks, have centred on the theory that khat is Islamic calligraphy to promote Quranic verses, or that it is a sneaky way of ramming Islamisation down our throats. And of course the counter-narratives to this argument.
But in this whole process, we seem to have carelessly overlooked the fact that one man is making arbitrary decisions for us.
I am sure that Mahathir and Education Minister Maszlee Malik were aware of the sensitivities surrounding this subject before the idea was floated.
And why wouldn’t people be suspicious? The Harapan government is protecting controversial preacher Zakir Naik.
Zakir has a permanent residency status in Malaysia although he is wanted by India for money laundering and terrorist activities.
We bailed out on the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. And of course, turned our backs on the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
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The government clearly doesn’t have a good track record to win the confidence of the people.
In sharp contrast, they are livid, furious and threaten to vote us out of power in the next general election. And I understand their anger.
Mahathir, by now, should be able to read the mood of the people. And he must understand that arbitrary decisions, without consultation, will not get him far.
Therefore, there must be a review in the decision-making the process at the Pakatan Harapan presidential council.
Controversial issues in government involving race and religion should be coursed through the council.
Currently, it looks like there is too much power in the hands of the prime minister and so this power needs to be shared equally amongst all the component parties.
We can’t get rid of former premier Najib Abdul Razak, only to become just like him.
And while we are at it, it would certainly help to remember that our education system is in shambles.
That the fluency of English amongst our graduates leaves much to be desired, That giving students the options of learning different languages, such as Spanish, German, French, would give them an added advantage in the job market.
And oh before I forget, there is that sticking point of an economy that isn’t doing all that great either.
So, introducing khat could wait. And we could have definitely spent the last 14 days discussing other worthwhile concerns facing our students and the nation.
CHARLES SANTIAGO is the MP for Klang.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.