‘Masing hijacked power from the people’

James Masing

A BN-friendly assemblyman has slammed Sarawak’s Senior Minister James Masing for his ‘bully attitude’.

Joseph Tawie, FMT

Sarawak’s sole independent assemblyman George Lagong has accused Party Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) president James Masing of being a ‘bully’ and ‘hijacking’ power from the people. 

Speaking at the ‘Who is the Boss’ forum here yesterday, Lagong who is Pelagus assemblyman also accused Masing of being condescending and feudal in his understanding of democracy.

Describing Masing’s now infamous ‘jangan lawan towkay’ statement as ‘arrogant’, Lagong said: “Whether in politics or business, such a condescending and bully attitude has no place, unless, of course, you are alone in your own world and choose to run your affairs without the help of others.

“What come to my mind almost immediately at the mention of the word ‘tauke’ are the following images:

  • A master-servant relationship
  • A man with authority who lords over others
  • A man who claims to be on high moral ground and refuses to listen to others
  • A man who cannot receive criticism or a different viewpoint
  • A man who talks down to others and does not have a ear for feedback

“In short, a man who hides behind the self-imposed image of a boss while others must remain passive and subservient to him

“What does it mean in a democracy when an elected rep decides to turn his back on the people and behaves in a manner that shows little regard to them?

“Simply put, it is as if he has hijacked power from the people who have elected him and chooses to exercise that power unilaterally without respecting the views and wishes of the people,” Lagong said.

Go back to basics

Lagong, who is a self-declared Barisan Nasional-friendly representative, was one of the three speakers at the ‘Who is the Boss’ public forum organised by Sarawak PKR.

The other two were Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How and University Malaysia Sabah professor Andrew Ariea.

More than 200 people including professionals and university students attended the forum.

In addressing the ‘jangan lawan tauke’ issue, Lagong said: “We must go back to the basics of democracy and the process of elected representation to establish the supremacy and power of the people, before the people are further misled.

“The first rule in democracy which we must acknowledge as the starting point of our discussion is that then people are the boss and this is central to the very philosophy and principle of democratic governance.

“It is summed up succinctly in the Latin words ‘vox populi’ which means ‘voice of the people’.

“Although democracy through the democratic electoral process, which provides for certain preferred candidates from among many to be voted into positions of power, the principle of people-as-boss should always retain its authority and primacy over governance,” he said.

Democracy’s sacred tenet

George LagongLagong went on to say that having power for the people indicates that the people have an equal say in what the government is doing, and the government, being of the people, by the people, and for the people, responds to the wishes – and hopefully educated wishes – of the people.

“Unfortunately, many elected representatives who claim to understand democracy either fail to understand or deliberately ignore this very scared tenet of democratic government.

“How can the Malaysian people be boss only for a day whilst the elected officials who derive their power from the people be the boss for five years?

“That makes the people-as-boss principle of democracy rather shaky, even farcical,” he said.

Lagong said the principle of democracy (of the people, by the people, for the people) becomes alive only when citizens accept the responsibility and accountability of participating in governance.

“On the contrary, it makes democracy a most dangerous principle for those who have long understood, and used, public office to have authority over others.

“If unchecked and left to proceed to the extremes, some of these representatives may behave like feudal lords and reign over their little fiefdoms while the electorate remains either ignorant or oblivious to their democratic right to be heard.

“This may give rise to a situation where the majority of the people will live in fear and remain passive and submissive to representatives whom they have chosen and elected to power.

“What an irony for democracy! Is this the kind of democracy that we want to see prevail in Sarawak?” asked the independent assemblyman.

Partyless Lagong was elected to the Pelagus constituency after he defeated Masing’s man in the last state election.