Tuesday, July 12, 2011


My intention actually is not to prove that consociationalism does exist ideally as in Malaysia after 1969 riots. It is more to proving of the existence of the spirit of consociationalism. Before that, writers such as Lijphart, McGarry and Leary may agree that Malaysia did practice consociationalism upon independence. However, since the 1969 riots, Malaysia’s politics tends to be one-sided, moving towards dominance since Tun Razak wanted to gain back Malay support. I do agree with that. But since 1999 until 2008, we can see how BA performed well in 1999 GE due to the cooperation between DAP-PAS (including PKN but PKN should be the issue since it is moving towards a multi-racial memberships). Some may argue about the rising of reformation. But in 2004 itself, when DAP and PAS stand within itself, we can see that DAP is hardly gain Malay support and the same goes to PAS. Plus both of them do not take the stance of supporting each other. It is kind of hard for the two parties to say that they are the representative the general public as they are viewed more as a race-based party. When it comes to 2008, especially for non-Malay community, the reason for their lost is lacking of voice within the coalition (eg, UMNO is too arrogant, MCA, MIC and Gerakan leaders are too weak in protecting their own community etc). This has resulted a major lost to those non-Malay parties. But for UMNO itself, its achievement is not that deadly bad compared to 2004 GE. Eg, in Penang DUN, UMNO is just lacking of around 3 seats (if I am not mistaken) compared to their 2004 elections. BN main lost is due to the failure of these component parties to find a balance within the coalition. The same goes to PR because in Malaysia politics, finding a balance point that can be accepted by all the races of the society is not easy. Therefore, to continually gaining support from all the races, a formula that can fulfill it is consociationalism. Even though both BN and PR don’t seem to be fully fitted into the theory, but its political actions and directions do show that they are following the spirit of consociationalism.

Personally for me, grand coalition shouldn’t be a big problem within the practice is moving towards a coalition or alliances as long as the political parties managed to show that they can physically (in terms of different races membership) and practically represent a wholesome society. Because even in Holland itself, the coalition government is not the same for every GE. Plus the membership and working alliance/coalition is the same for BN before 1969 riot. So if BN (and now including PR) can be considered as practicing consociational democracy before 1969, why not now, looking at the principle aspect of combining different race-based political parties into a coalition party.

Secondly, I do agree that there isn’t such thing as absolute veto power in Malaysia. If that is true, meaning the legal aspect of veto power shouldn’t exist if we considered Malaysia as a consociational democracy before 1969 as what Lijphart had put forward. However, in terms of practical political actions, we can see how DAP and PAS are not allowed to implement policy that is going against another party policy, eg Islamic State. In this case, we can consider it as a kind of veto power in practice. Plus as we had discussed above, one of the reason of MCA, MIC and Gerakan loss is due to the arrogance of UMNO. This means that over-dominance caused the loss. If veto power does exist within BN, it means that the problem of over-dominance shouldn’t exist as another party can check on the bigger party. I believe this can show the importance of veto power in a multi-racial society in Malaysia.

Thirdly regarding minority authority, it can be linked back to the second ideal of veto power. The same goes to the fourth element of proportionality which is linked back to the grand coalition ideas. Malaysia doesn’t seem to have any major changes in terms of legal aspect as even before 1969, Malaysia did practise Perkara 152, 153 etc. The selection of candidates is plus minus the same as in 1969.

The biggest change is the practicality side of BN political policy (since PR doesn’t exist yet). UMNO seems to be more dominant after 1969 riots, MCA (considered as Chinese society) political power has been reduced (losing of Finance Ministry etc), lacking of an opposition front that can challenge BN in terms of their wholesome racial composition etc. However, 1999-2008 GE has shown the differences of opposition bench and how it affects BN especially their smaller component parties. This means that if we agree with Lijphart stance that Malaysia is a consociational democracy before 1969 riots (if Lijphart stance is not agreed upon, then it will be another debate on consociationalism in Malaysia), then what we need to prove is that whether Malaysia’s consociationalism after 2008 GE can follow the spirit of consociationalism before 1969 riot since Lijphart denied it after 1969 riot. If the importance of consociationalism in Malaysia politics can be proven, meaning Malaysia is moving towards the practice of consociationalism even though is not stated black and white.

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