Civil Society Organizations Joint Statement: 28 November 2008
Time for a PR Shadow Cabinet
We, the undersigned civil society groups call upon the Pakatan Rakyat to set up a shadow cabinet as soon as possible. Positioning himself as the prime minister-in-waiting, Anwar Ibrahim must present his team of ministers-in-waiting not later than his rival Najib Razak announces his line-up in March.
Shadow cabinet is a common feature in Westminster democracies as it indicates the opposition’s readiness to take over the governing task if the incumbent government is defeated in a parliamentary no-confidence vote or an election.
We hold that there are three compelling reasons for the Pakatan Rakyat to announce its line-up as soon as possible.
First, it facilitates division of labour amongst PR parliamentarians and provides stronger check and balance to BN frontbenchers. The public has no idea at the moment now which PR parliamentarian can speak authoritatively on a particular policy domain like labour, education or environment. Such assignment of portfolio would enhance the participation of civil society and individual citizens in public policy formulation.
Secondly, a shadow cabinet also helps to consolidate the policy position of PR component parties. It results in responsibility on the part of the frontbenchers to persuade all the parties to sign up to some common positions. This would reduce public confusion which often happens now when the parties contradict each other in public.
Thirdly, a shadow cabinet can help both synchronize some common policies of the five PR-ruled states and coordinate the federal and state branches of PR coalition. Malaysians deserve to know PR policies on preservation of water catchment area, on access to public information, on local elections, etc. Institutionalized consultation between shadow ministers and state governments would work better than a party-based Menteri Besar Council.
We call upon Anwar Ibrahim to make formation of shadow cabinet his top priority from now to March 2009. Nearly nine month after the March elections, Pakatan Rakyat which has vowed to take over the federal executive power via crossover of BN parliamentarians must now be prepared to show that they are not only interested to govern, but able to do so.
Endorsed by (updated list):
1. All Women’s Action Society (AWAM)
2. Center for Independent Journalism (CIJ)
3. Center for Orang Asli Concerns (COAC)
4. Civil Rights Committee of the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH)
5. Coalition Against Water Privatisation
6. Community Development Center (CDC)
7. Group of Concern Citizen
8. Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (JERIT)
9. Malaysia Youth and Students Democratic Movement (DEMA)
10. Monitoring Sustainability of GlobalisatioN (MSN)
11. Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (Empower)
12. Persatuan Masyarakat Selangor & Wilayah Persekutuan (PERMAS)
13. Pusat Komas
14. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
15. Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO)
16. Writers Alliance for Media Independence (WAMI)
17. Youth for Change (Y4C)
18. Youth section of KLSCAH
19. Centre for Policy Initiatives (CPI)
20. Civil Society Initiative for Parliamentary Reform (CSI@Parliament)
21. Persatuan Sahabat Wanita, Selangor (PSWS)
22. Persatuan Kebangsaan Hak Asasi Manusia (HAKAM)