Third Force: The Two-Year Fallacy

Khoo Kay Peng

When the idea to establish a movement, third force for national reform, to monitor the performance, integrity and credibility of politicians and political parties was proposed, I have received a number of responses from Straight Talk and Malaysia Today’s readers.

Some supported the idea and others believe that we are not yet ready for a third force. Those who are against the idea opined that we need a to experience at least a change of federal government before a third force should materialize.

They argue that Pakatan state governments were given only 2.5 years to govern and they should be given a longer period to prove themselves. Granted, we agree that 2.5 years is not a very long time.

However, it is a reality that political parties cannot ‘learn’ the rope of governance, policy making and administration only after they have won the right to govern. Political parties in the newly minted Pakatan coalition are not new players in Malaysian politics. PAS was established in 23 August 1951, the DAP was established in 1965 and PKR was created in 1999. They should be prepared to lead at least two decades ago.

If not, the Pakatan politicians would become perpetual oppositions rather than policy makers. Political parties must be prepared to rule even when they are in the opposition. This is the most important tenet of competitive and democratic party politics. Political parties compete for power to govern and NOT just to oppose.

The political process takes its effect every five years. Political parties are given a maximum of 5-year period to prove themselves at governance. Ruling parties need to seek a new mandate after a 5-year period.

How long does Pakatan need to justify its ability to govern? 20 years? Would it be democratic to give them a blank check to govern for the next 20 years without a proper check-and-balance?

This third force cannot act selectively. We must subject the two coalitions to the same level playing field. The barriers for both Pakatan and BN must be the same.

It is even more important for Pakatan to live up to our expectations. They are the most vulnerable between the two coalitions. More than 10 of their elected representatives had ‘defected’ to the other side and the defections had caused a collapsed of a democratically elected government, bastardizing the mandate given by the majority of voters.

If Pakatan is not being pressured to pull up their socks and offer us better candidates, how can we so sure that history will not repeat itself should the coalition wins a simple majority at the federal government?

Defections and an undemocratic change of government will destabilize the country and cause unnecessary economic hardship.

Malaysians must think hard. Spare the rod and spoil the child.

A third force represents thinking voters/stakeholders is very important to ensure that a change for the better becomes mandatory for all political parties who want to rule the country. They need our mandate and this mandate must not be given without rules, expectations and conditions.

We must set these conditions, expectations and rules now before their political arrogance and selfishness destroys the rest of us.

It is time to tell them to respect our constitutional rights, stop sectarian politics of race and religion and respect the rule of law.

Politicians are not above the law, not even Umno leaders.

We need to build a consensus for a New Malaysia now. The future of this country rests on a non-racial, non-discriminative, progressive, innovative, creative, democratic and dynamic path.

A third force or not, you decide.