By Tunku Zain Al-'Abidin Muhriz

This booklet contains articles chosen regularly from the author's column, Abiding occasions, in theSun, Malaysia, in addition to people with Tengku Zatashah Idris, Syed Haizam Jamalullail, Sharyn Shufiyan and Quek Sue Yian. released among March 2008 and August 2010, they have been written within the interval after Tunku Zain's go back from the USA and as much as the Proclamation of the eleventh Yang di-Pertuan Besar. From calling for the assessments and balances so the most important to the potent functioning of a democratic society to be bolstered, to reminding all contributors in a democratic society in their rights and duties, the author writes in language that's effortless to learn and with a wry feel of humour.

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Of course, youth awareness or interest in policymaking is still growing; there’s still a long way to go before public policy or politics attracts the same job aspirations as banking, law, medicine or management consulting. One way to address this would be to encourage more political activity in campuses but unfortunately, the stifling University and University Colleges Act 1971 remains in force, ‘in effect denying university students their constitutional rights to freedom of association and of speech’, according to Dr Azmi Sharom, Associate Law Professor at UM.

But I want to talk about something else. Liberty. This word did not feature in a single 2008 election manifesto. But when Tunku Abdul Rahman proclaimed Independence he declared Malaya ‘for ever a sovereign democratic and independent State founded upon the principles of liberty and justice’. Whatever the intentions of Malaysians on polling day, they have undoubtedly strengthened the primary institution discharged with the duty of protecting their liberty: Parliament. Our Federal Constitution has been amended nearly 700 times by some accounts: a small sample includes amendments to automate Royal Assent to bills, expel Singapore and most recently, raise the retirement age of the Elections Commission Chairman.

We are instead told that a contract already exists. “Which ‘unity’ did they refer to? Unity within, or between, races, states, religions and classes? ” Odd, because it is clear that once upon a time, competition was intrinsic to the Malay psyche. It gave rise to the legend of Hang Tuah and his friends, the rivalry between the five warrior sons of Daeng Rilaga and a flourishing of highly individualistic arts like woodcarving, songket-weaving and silat. Reintroducing this heritage of competition would catalyse talent and creativity today, although instead of war, we can employ the free market and the ballot box to stage the competition of values and ideas for consumers and the rakyat to judge.

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