Political parties that win an election through gaining the highest number of seats but not the popular vote do not have the moral right to lead, veteran Umno leader Tan Sri Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah said.
In his keynote address at the G25 public forum ‘Reforms for a Progressive Malaysia’ in Shah Alam on Saturday, the former minister popularly known by his moniker Ku Li said moral legitimacy is a crucial element in a constitutional democracy.
He said that there were two elements in the right to lead in a constitutional democracy.
“The first is the physical right. For instance, a political party must win a fairly contested election to govern a country.
“Should that election be run on the principle of victory as reflected by being first past the post, then a political grouping without a majority of popular votes but having the majority of elected seats will be on a sticky wicket.
“This would amount to a lack of moral right to lead, and the moral right is the second element to leadership rights,” he said.
Tengku Razaleigh noted that more often than not, moral right to leadership was often dismissed in democracies that were less mature.
“A morally upright leader would have strong moral high ground as his leadership base. Once that ground is lost, the right to remain in office becomes ticklish.
“In this age of social media, this loss of right would be made known and spread around in a swift manner and in no uncertain terms,” he said.
The Gua Musang MP also said that some of his friends who did “cursory surveys” have suggested the possibility of a hung parliament in the next general election.
“This would mean that the voters are neither for returning the government of the day to office nor giving power to the coalition offering the alternative.
“This would mean that the voters want a non-divisive government, comprising all the political stakeholders, to be formed. This, if you will, is essentially a national unity government,” Ku Li said.
He added that if a unified government is formed, a leader with credibility should be selected.
“In such a scenario, where all parties need to come together, the executive branch must be led by a politician acceptable to both sides of the aisle of the Dewan Rakyat. Given the present national economic position, that person needs to be an MP with a proven record,” he said.
He also said that both sides should not resort to forming a government through defections which would not sit well with the electorate and is an insult to the voters.
“If (voters) had wanted a particular party to form the government, they would have voted that party in with at least a simple majority,” he said.
Malaysia has never seen a hung parliament at federal level, but the 2008 crisis in Perak led to assemblymen swapping sides to ensure a Barisan Nasional victory in the state.