Call me ignorant when it comes to national politics, but WTF is this?

Barisan MPs have no choice
By ELIZABETH LOOI

KUALA LUMPUR: Conscience is not a factor when Barisan Nasional MPs vote in Parliament because under the BN Whip, which is enforced at all times, they are not allowed to support any motion by the Opposition.

“You went into the elections as a candidate for the party and you must remember that. You must always toe the party line,” said Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz.

“If you’re not happy, you can resign, or in the next elections, you can quit as a party member and stand as an independent against the BN.

“That is the only time when you can vote in Parliament based on your conscience. At the moment the only MP who can do so is Sandakan MP Chong Hon Min (Independent).”

The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department said Barisan Members of Parliament could always ask the Speaker for a 15-minute break if they were in a dilemma over whether to support an Opposition motion that had national importance.

“They can check with me and I will let the Chief know so that if the Chief thinks we should support, he will lift the Whip,” he said.

He cited an example when the Chief (Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak) lifted the Whip last year for BN backbenchers to support a motion by Salahuddin Ayob (PAS – Kubang Kerian) to debate the unrest in South Thailand.

Nazri, who is Deputy Whip, was speaking at a press conference at the Parliament lobby yesterday after meeting Backbenchers Club (BBC) committee members at his office.

The BBC wanted to reinstate Datuk Shahrir Abdul Samad as chairman. He resigned last week after he did not get backing from his fellow members when he supported a motion by Opposition leader Lim Kit Siang.

Lim had proposed to refer a news article about an MP who allegedly interfered with the Malacca Customs Department to the Parliamentary Rights and Privileges Committee.

The BBC had planned to hold a meeting early yesterday morning to reinstate the Johor Baru MP but they were later told by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to postpone the meeting.

“Shahrir’s reinstatement will be a mockery of the party’s disciplinary action, which is suspension. That is why the meeting was asked to be postponed,” said Nazri.

He said Shahrir would have been suspended for three months if he had not quit, as he had gone against the Whip.

He added that BN MPs who had supported the Opposition’s motions had been reprimanded before, including a deputy minister who was suspended for three months and two MPs who were given warning letters.

“I have told the BBC to hold a meeting as soon as possible to decide on a new chairman. It will have to inform the Chief Whip and seek his opinion about the decision,” Nazri said.

He however added that it did not mean Shahrir would not be re-elected chairman in future.

Nazri also denied that the BBC’s jurisdiction did not come under the Chief Whip, as claimed by Kota Baru MP Datuk Zaid Ibrahim.

“The BBC helps the backbenchers to prepare themselves for Parliament debates, so it is wrong to say the BBC is not under the Chief Whip,” he said.

(From The Star)

Thanks to Mac for highlighting this issue.

This is absolutely chilling. I thought that MPs do vote according to conscience, or at least, to some form of common sense. Knowing that they are given no choice in the matter does not invite me to invest my faith in my local BN candidate.

Party unity is important if you want to make some major changes, but I recall instances where certain politicians reacted instinctively in the favour of something brought up by the opposition, only to mysteriously back-pedal and condemn it later against all good sense. Why? Gee, I can't begin to imagine.

All I saw was betrayal to the so-called "people's interest", and I don't take kindly to betrayal in any form.

At least many people feels the same way about this issue:

Let MPs vote freely, say readers

PETALING JAYA: Should political parties allow their MPs to vote according to their conscience?

Yes, said more than 3,000 readers of The Star who took part in an online poll on Tuesday.

An overwhelming 92.3% (2,981of the 3,230 respondents) want MPs to have the freedom to vote according to their conscience, even if it means supporting a motion tabled by opposition parties.

“Because MPs represent the people, they must care for the people’s interest. Where there is a motion put forward by any MP for the country’s betterment, all other MPs must vote according to their conscience,” said L.K. Yam of Malacca.

Asked why MPs should be allowed to vote according to their conscience, the consensus was “MPs are the people’s representative.”

Said Avinash Rajah, an engineer from Bayan Lepas, Penang: “The primary duty of an MP is to serve the interests of the people. As such, there should be no question of party interests superseding the people’s interest.”

Edgar of Shah Alam suggested “a pre-voting mechanism where MPs vote in private first on issues of public concern to gauge whether there exists strong differences of opinion.”

Only 1.9% (62 respondents) agreed that MPs should toe the party line. The rest of the participants answered either “Maybe” or “I don’t care.”

(From The Star)

At the end of the day, the world is a playground; if you're with the cool kids, you're expected to jump off the bridge just because the decision maker of the group thought it was a cool idea.

As a general rule, I hate politics. I hate it more when they argue over stupid little things that shouldn't matter and doesn't have any impact on the country except force us to decide whether to throw up our hands in disgust or point and laugh when kids in the playground start throwing sand at each other.

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