Undemocratic to gag unity govt members from speaking up against each other, Loke says

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, May 9 — DAP secretary-general Anthony Loke said today that the government's agenda is to empower Parliament in order to give more room for MPs to deliberate on policies and legislation, instead of blindly following the party's whip decision.

He said that it is undemocratic to restrict or contain his party members or MPs from criticising members or parties within the coalition government.

"We must appreciate that there must be room for differences of opinions, but at the end of the day, what is important is that when a decision is made, then it's a consensus among the leadership and we strike the way forward.

"But in the process, we have to also allow room for some discontent, some displeasure to be expressed. I think that's normal," he said during a roundtable session held by electoral watchdog Bersih titled "Deepening Democracy in Malaysia: Making Coalition Government and Hung Parliament Work."

Loke pointed out that members from the same party also criticise each other, saying that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's biggest critic is purportedly an MP of his own party, PKR, instead of the Opposition Leader from Perikatan Nasional.

"But the PM is cool about it. He never asked him to shut up, he never gagged him,” he said, but did not mention who he was referring to.

“So I think that's the spirit that we have to learn, to respect differences, and to ensure that we have a more functioning democracy.”

Previously, Parti Amanah Negara communications director Khalid Abdul Samad in a statement last month urged the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to deny Umno's plea for former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's pardon.

His statement caused a stir among Umno leaders, with Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi calling for an end to "inappropriate" comments on the pardon bid.

Amanah president Datuk Seri Mat Sabu has since distanced the party from Khalid's comments, saying that the party members may express their personal views about Umno's petition, but these were not representative of Amanah's stance that was bound by Pakatan Harapan's position.