Are PH leaders still stuck in an “opposition mindset” for openly criticising among ourselves?

As we can observe from the past few months, Pakatan Harapan (PH) elected representatives and leaders have not shied away from openly criticising their fellow colleagues or the government.

For example, last week, I publicly objected to the sudden and widespread introduction of new privatised parking collection in my constituency, Kota Melaka. Of course, I did this in full awareness that the Melaka state government is under PH.

Consequently, many people have criticised PH Melaka for being too disorganised. Some say that we should have tried to resolve the problem internally and not be too “opposition-minded” anymore.

At the national level, PH leaders and members of parliament (MP) have also not hesitated to publicly express our disagreements. For example, in the recent parliament session, many backbenchers have criticised and disagreed on the proposed PTPTN repayment scheme.

I am mindful that, as far as possible, we should try to get the problems solved via internal mechanisms.

On the other hand, I also believe that the most important responsibility of an MP is to be the voice of the people, whether in Parliament or in the general public. The underlying priority is to act in the best interest of the people, and the minimum an MP can do is to amplify their voices to those in charge.

Open criticism should not always be viewed negatively. We should view it as part of the democratic process. If done constructively and in good faith, open criticism can promote better transparency and robustness in governance. It creates a vibrant public sphere where stakeholders can get information or to participate in expressing their views.

It also promotes greater check and balances. Not all MPs are in executive positions, and therefore, we can play an active role in constructively scrutinising our colleagues who are in charge.

After all, is it not better for us to receive feedback and criticism from fellow colleagues than our enemies? The difference is that our colleagues want us to succeed collectively, while our enemies want us to fail.

Consider the alternative, where problems are only discussed behind closed doors. This will lead to power being concentrated into the hands of a few. The public will become even more frustrated because there is no accountability and transparency.

Therefore, given the choice, I would remain vocal in the best interest of the people.

Khoo Poay Tiong
Letter to editor by Khoo Poay Tiong in Malacca on Friday, 11th January 2019