His Majesty’s Most Loyal Opposition


Plato was against Athenian democracy because he believed democracy’s proponents were a bunch of, to use a synthesized Malaysian-Aussie word, syiok sendiri wankers, who were self centred anarchists, irrational and impulsive, and thus incapable of seeking out the common good for society.

According to him, that situation worsened with an increasing population as it would render the individual’s voice even more insignificant.

It was a prognosis that called for a ‘papa knows best’ remedy, wakakaka.
Until recent times, national strongmen (to borrow Josh Hong’s term in his criticisms of Dr Mahathir Mohamad), especially though not exclusively those in Asia’s SE Asian and Far East regions (with the possible exception of a US controlled and democracy-indoctrinated Japan) took on the role of ‘papa’ who knew best.
We are more familiar with the strongmen of our own SE Asian region, blokes and blokesses like Dr Mahathir, Lee Kuan Yew, Suharto, Sihanouk, and the oligarchy in the Philippines – am leaving out the communist and  military dictatorships in Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and until recently Thailand (and f* Brunei, wakakaka).
former President Gloria Macapagal of Philippines
Probably the Malaysian votes for ‘Top Papa’ would go down to the wire between (Tun) Dr Mahathir and (Knight of The Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George, wakakaka) Lee Kuan Yew or Sir Harry*.
* The British knighthood system is weird in that by convention the knighted person is addressed by his personal name rather than his surname, eg. Sir Cliff for Cliff Richard, Sir Sean for Sean Connery, thus Sir Harry (Lee Kuan Yew’s western name) or if you like, Sir Kuan Yew.
I personally feel that the title of ‘Top Papa’ should go to Sir Harry (Lee Kuan Yew) because he was more “innovative” than our own Dr Mahathir, in his Singapore variant of Westminster democracy, as follows:
Sir Harry
In 1984 Singapore had a constitutional amendment which allocated the opposition with a minimum of 3 seats in Parliamentary regardless of whether it won those seats or not. However,the member occupying those (awarded) seats were not allowed to vote in the new Parliament.
It was a fortunate constitutional amendment because after the results of the Singapore 1988 elections were announced, there was only one opposition MP, namely Chiam See Tong of the Democratic Party. The embarrassment for Sir Kuan Yew’s majority ruling PAP was that it won 80 out of 81 seats with just 61.8% of the votes.
Alamak, just one opposition MP to show for 40% of the Island State’s votes?
Thank goodness, the 1984 constitutional amendment allowed Parliament to top up the opposition numbers to a more though superficially respectful 3, but in real terms, only one had voting rights in Parliament.
But those face saving (for Singapore’s democracy) seats didn’t provide legal immunity for their occupants. Indeed after that election, Lee Siew Choh (Workers’ Party) and Francis Seow respectively faced legal damages for comments (Lee) made about PAP during the 1984 election and trial for (Seow’s) alleged tax evasion.
Dr Lee Siew Choh
Anyway, my post is more about what Westminster democracy termed His/Her Majesty’s “Most Loyal Opposition”.
John Cam Hobhouse, 1st Baron Broughton, was credited with this term in 1826 when he attacked George Canning, the Foreign Secretary, in the House of Commons, stating: “It is said to be hard on His Majesty’s Ministers to raise objections of this character but it is more hard on His Majesty’s Opposition to compel them to take this course.”
In mature Westminster democracies such as in Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, the Opposition Leader of Her Majesty’s “Most Loyal Opposition” is picked from the political party (after the ruling party) with the largest number of seats and who, traditionally, comes from the Lower House (Dewan Rakyat).
John Cam Hobhouse
Our current federal Opposition Leader was originally an unelected person but who is now a MP though not from a political party (after the ruling party) with the largest number of seats in Dewan Rakyat, wakakaka. But I must admit his selection has been by consensus among the Pakatan allies.
The Opposition Leader in mature western democracies is treated as the PM-in-waiting and accordingly, provided with all the privileges/perks such as salary/allowance/staff and status, meeting foreign dignities (together with or separately from the PM) and being briefed on intelligence and national security issues. The Canadian Leader of the Opposition even has an official residence in the capital, known as Stornoway.