Senseless, just senseless

Getting the High Court to order SUPP’s deregistration must go down as a historical infamy. 

LAST month I wrote a scathing piece (or so readers told me) on ministers and elected honourable representatives jumping ship.

We even have a president quitting his own party.

I called that disgraceful (many readers agreed with me). I thought nothing could beat this mother of all political antics.

Nothing could stoop lower. Or so I thought.

This week’s news that ex-leaders of SUPP are filing for a judicial review to quash the Registrar of Societies’ decision NOT — repeat NOT — to deregister SUPP, must go down as a historical infamy.

The case was brought by former SUPP leaders Datuk Dr Jerip Susil, Dr Johnical Rayong, Ranum Mina, Shiling Banggit, Datuk Tiong Thai King, Suzanne Lee Tze Hua and Penghulu Sia Jii Ming.

Dr Jerip said their move meant that the ROS’ decision made on April 30 not to deregister the party could be overturned by the court and that the ROS’ decision maybe rendered null and void.

“If the ROS made a wrong decision, the decision can be quashed and the court can order ROS to deregister SUPP,” the Bengoh assemblyman told a local English widespread.

He said this (filing for a judicial review) had to be done because of irregularities in the branch elections before the party’s 2011 Triennial Delegates Conference (TDC), resulting in the boycott of the party elections by former SUPP Sibu chief Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh with six other SUPP elected representatives and other party leaders, including Dr Jerip (Bengoh), Dr Rayong (Engkilili), Ranum (Opar), Tiong (former Lanang MP), Shiling (political secretary), Lee (former SUPP Women chief) and Sia (community leader).

I am not questioning the High Court decision to grant leave to the group to file their action.

I am not questioning the right of any citizen of our country to seek legal redress.

I am aghast because it must be the first time in history that anyone is going to court with the intention to deregister a political party.

Other cases are about trying to overturn the ROS’ decision to deregister, which is to preserve and try to save a party, not destroy it.

I fully accept and even support the right of anyone to challenge the decision of the ROS.

Party members or officials who feel aggrieved may complain to the ROS any alleged wrongdoings — although one can’t help wondering why is it that complaints are almost always about party elections, or why is it always the losing party that complains?

The whole idea of complaints to the ROS is to bring to his attention any irregularities and to convince the ROS to order new elections, and that such new elections are conducted in accordance with the rules and accepted democratic practice.

But it can never be about getting the party deregistered!

If the ROS does deregister, that is a sad and unwanted consequence.

Deregistration can never be and must never be the intention.

Coming from a union background, I’m especially aghast. Unions always live under the threat of deregistration if we incur the wrath of the registrar (Director-General of Trade), who is a civil servant like the ROS, who literally holds the sword of Damocles.

We are fighting a 50-year battle to have Malaysia ratify ILO conventions to guarantee full freedom of association so that unions or any societies cannot be deregistered by an administrative body.

So for ministers and elected represen- tatives demanding for the deregistration of a political party is a total affront to the ideas of democracy that a government is of the people for the people by the people — the very principle that as ministers and elected representatives, they have sworn to protect and uphold.

As such the action to seek judicial review to quash the ROS’ decision NOT to deregister is senseless.

This is worse than cutting your nose to spite your face. It also means that the intention of complaining is not to correct any wrongdoings, but to get it deregistered.

Dr Jerip admitted this when he was reported to have said: “If they won the case in the court, the ROS could be compelled to deregister SUPP.

“With the case in the High Court now, the legitimacy and existence of SUPP as a political party is still in question.”

There is a Chinese saying that goes: “Even a dog can wag its tail.”

It means that we must not forget our roots and should be thankful to those who give us our opportunity.

Sure, ties may be broken, relationship may die, but to go to court to fight for the deregistration of SUPP by former leaders is as bad as a divorced man calling for the demise of his ex-spouse.

Check that. It is like calling for the demise of parents who disowned you.

Go ahead prove that you are better than your parents, set up a new family — a party — but don’t call for their demise.

Ministers must use their full energy to fight for the Kampung and longhouse folks so that they can have decent jobs and wages.

Support the minimum wage, not the timber companies.

Get Macau travel agents to organise tours for their citizens to visit Sarawak, not to ask Sarawak tour operators to organise tours for Sarawakians to visit Macau.

All this senselessness is permeating everywhere.

The Inland Revenue Department now wants to keep 1.5% of our tax money to invest.

Where is the logic?

Do they have the investment expertise?

If we allow this, we might as well allow Customs Department to keep a percentage of the customs and excise duties, sales tax and very soon GST, for their investment.

Maybe the police can keep a percentage of the fines they collect.

If all this becomes a practice, we might as well deregister the Government’s investment arm, Khazanah Nasional Bhd.


The above is published with permission of the writer Andrew Lo, who is writing for The Star.