Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Now, (almost) everybody wants to limit term in office

Malaysia has a history of having long serving individuals in the public offices.

Our fourth Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir served as the Prime Minister of Malaysia from 1981 to 2003 (22 years), making him among the longest serving head of government at that time. During the same period, Mahathir also presided as the longest serving UMNO President.

Rafidah Aziz, served as Wanita UMNO Chief from 1984 to 1996, and from 1999 to 2009 (22 years), also the longest serving Wanita UMNO Chief in history.

Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA)’s Ling Liong Sik served as MCA President from 1986 to 2003 (17 years).

Samy Vellu, the current President of Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) is poised to extend his record long serving presidency that he held since 1979.

Taib Mahmud, the current Chief Minister of Sarawak, has been holding that office since 1981.

It is noted that MCA has now resolved to limit the term of office for its President, to allow for fresh faces to emerge and revitalise the party.

(Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) already has a provision to limit the term of the party president. However, in the case of PKR, the President is a lame duck. The real power lies with the current party Advisor, Brother Anwar Bin Ibrahim, who may not even be a formal member of the party. And there is currently no provision on party Advisor, let alone to limit his term in office).

Our current Prime Minister, Pak Lah, whose tenure is cut short due to pressures within his own party, has proposed that UMNO considers limiting the office term of its senior officials, including UMNO President. Why not? If Pak Lah cannot serve as long as he would have wanted it, nobody should have that opportunity too.

Rafidah Aziz had a fair share of power at the top of Wanita UMNO. Now that she has lost the top post to Shahrizat Jalil, she wanted the term for that post to be limited too.

Today, Samy Vellu made the same statement. He wanted the term of office of the MIC President to be limited. By right, Samy Vellu should have already vacated the office after his General Election lost in his constituency of Sungai Siput. His immediate departure from MIC would revitalise the ailing party, which has lost substantial support from the Indian community. There are a lot more able young and upcoming Indian politicians within MIC who would be able to bring MIC back to the fore.

We are now waiting to see whether Taib Mahmud will hang on to his Chief Ministership for another term. It would also be interesting to see whether Taib Mahmud will also propose a office term limit for future Chief Ministers.

(In other countries such as Venezuela where there is already provision to limit the president’s term in office, the incumbent President, Hugo Chevez has won a referendum to extend his presidential eligibility).

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