KUCHING: James Masing’s concept of democracy ‘jangan lawan tauke’ (don’t fight your boss) is not only flawed, but a very dangerous kind of thinking, said Associate Professor Andrew Aeria of the Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS).
“What do you mean ‘jangan lawan tauke’? Are you talking about the businessman ‘tauke’?
“Suddenly it became clearer the ‘tauke’ is the politician. Politicians are the ones who are in charge and the people are in charge on voting day. Basically it means from 8.00 am when polling opens to 5.00 pm when polling closes.
“About nine hours after which the politicians become ‘tauke’. This is a very dangerous kind of thinking, because politicians say the majority rules,” said Professor Aeria at the ‘Who is the Boss’ forum on Sunday.
The forum was organised by Sarawak PKR after Masing, who is the President of Parti Rakyat Sarawak and Land Development Minister told a disabled man Frusis Lebi ‘jangan lawan tauke’.
Masing when making the remark was defending Mong Dagang, PRS youth leader and Assistant Minister of Agriculture (Research and Marketing) who ordered that welfare allowance to Frusis be stopped immediately on ground that he supported the Opposition.
Mong also ordered that agricultural subsidies to him also be withdrawn.
Professor Aeria said: “I was surprised that the disabled man was discriminated against just because of his political belief. And I was even more surprised to read that Masing in defending Mong blamed Frusis and told him ‘jangan lawan tauke’.
“By denying him the welfare assistance because of his political belief, you are in violation of the Malaysian Constitution, in violation of the International United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and in violation on the convention of disabled people.
“You are in violation not only of domestic laws, but also international laws,” he said.
“Masing thinks that might is right, and if you take the argument to its logical conclusion, you are going back to the dark days of Dr. Mahathir Mohamad when he used legal instruments, used Queen’s powers, you used draconian laws or undemocratic laws to involve your ideas and your form of government upon the people,” he said, pointing out that no Malaysians would like to go to those dark days.
“And if you take the argument even further to its logical conclusion, then you end up in the company of people like Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler where you can cancel parliament, get rid of your legal institutions and just imposed government by might and by the rule of Secret Police.
“And this is usually within the democratic discourse, a very dangerous way of thinking,” he stressed, pointing out that politicians in the state have reduced the whole meaning of democracy to one small component – the majority rules.
He said that democracy is a combination of several factors and it is a very complex system. It is a demanding system. It does not confine to majority rule only.
“There is no such thing as the divine right of King in a democracy any more, but we do have the sovereign right of the people in democracy to define their form of government.
“Malaysia is in the midst of transition from a state that is not democratic or may be semi-democratic to a state moving towards democracy. That is why we have thinking articulated by Masing that ‘jangan lawan tauke’ as the politician is the boss.
“This is rather disturbing to me as someone teaches first year politics in the university - Politics 101 is the core materials for any social sciences students.
“When we find that our discussion going on and then we realise the discussion only centred on one small component (of democracy) - majority rule.
“If Masing is in my first year political science in 101 courses, the answer that parliamentary democracy equals to majority rule, I will give him 10 marks. It means he fails, because his answer is under researched and under informed view.
“It is unfortunate that Masing had PhD he should know better,” Aeria added.
The professor was also disturbed to read a recent article quoting Dr. Jerip Susil, an assistant minister who said that since the government had limited funds, it only provided funds to BN supporters.
“This kind of thinking comes from the kind of mentality that politicians are the ‘tauke’. Taxes are paid by everybody. The government is for everybody and not for BN members only.
“If you take Jerip’s argument to its logical conclusion, then what it means is that the government funds come from the Barisan Nasional fund and in that case all those who did not vote for Barisan Nasional please don’t pay your taxes.
“Then you have every right to go to tax revolt – don’t pay taxes. This is the logical conclusion. This is a flawed argument and within the university this argument will not stand.
“Within an enlightened society, civilised and democratic society this kind of argument will not stand,” he stressed, calling on more people to stand up and say ‘we are sovereign’.
He said that he was gland that such a forum was organised to clarify issues on that and expressed the hope Malaysians could look to the future.
“There is no need to look back as a lot of Malaysian politicians are doing. Let us grow into a civilised society that practises democracy.
“If you look backward, you only see dinosaurs in Jurassic parks,” he said.