PAD 170 : GOVERNMENT & POLITICS
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS – PART TWO
22. Explain what is meant by “Independence of the Judiciary”
Judicial independence means that the judges (judiciary) should decide cases that come before them impartially (secara adil dan dengan tidak berat sebelah). This means that they should decide cases on the basis of facts, evidence and in accordance with the law in each case. They should make decisions without any outside interference, influence (pengaruh), pressure (tekanan), threats (ancaman/ugutan) or restrictions (sekatan). In other words, they should decide matters without interference (campur tangan) from the Executive or the Legislature or from private or political interests. They need not fear reprisals (tindak balas) for interpreting and applying the law to the best of their ability. Moreover, they must be free to act according to law no matter how unpopular their decisions may be.
23. How is judicial independence secured in Malaysia?
In Malaysia, Judicial independence is secured in the following ways:
a) Judges are independent of the Executive and the Legislature and they do not get involved in political debate or political activities.
b) Judges cannot be sued or prosecuted (didakwa) for what they do or say in their capacity as a judge and in the course of their duties.
c) Rules concerning the tenure of office, remuneration (saraan), qualifications and powers of the judges are enshrined (termaktub) in the Federal Constitution.
d) The conduct of superior court judges cannot be dicussed in Parliament. It could be discussed only if one quarter of the total members of either house submits a substantive motion to that effect. Their conduct cannot be discussed in any State Assembly.
e) The tenure of office (tempoh jawatan) of the judges is guaranteed by the Constitution. Judges hold office during good behaviour and retire at 66.
f) The remuneration of the judges is fixed by law (Judges’ Remuneration Act 1971) and shall not be reduced after their appointment. Their Remuneration is charged on the Consolidated Fund (Kumpulan Wang Yang Disatukan) and it is not reviewed annually by parliament.
g) A special Tribunal is set up under Article 125 (3) and (4) of the Federal Constitution to remove a judge if he is guilty of breaching (melanggar the judicial code of ethics prescribed under Article 125 (3B) and (3C) and the Judges’ Code of Ethics 1994. (Under the Code of Ethics,a judge cannot put his private interest over his judicial duties; use his judicial position for his personal advantage; bring the judiciary into disrepute (mendapat nama buruk) or discredit; or be a member of any political party or participate in any political activity).
24. How are judges appointed in Malaysia
A person is qualified to be appointed as a judge of the Superior Courts (i.e. the Federal Court, the Court of Appeal and the High Courts) if he or she is a Malaysian citizen; and either an advocate (peguam) who has practised in any of the Superior Courts for at least 10 years preceding (sebelum) his or her appointment or a member of the Judicial and Legal Service or of the legal service of a State for at least ten years just before his or her appointment. The rules and procedures concerning the appointment of judges in Malaysia are contained in Article 122B of the Federal Constitution and the Judicial Appointments Commission Act 2009 (JAC Act). His Majesty the Yang di-Pertuan Agong appoints the Chief Justice, the Head of the Malaysian Judiciary, on the advice of the Prime Minister after consulting the Conference of Rulers. The appointment of the President of the Court of Appeal, the Chief Judge of the High Court of Malaya, the Chief Judge of the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak, judges of the Federal Court, the Court of Appeal and the High Court is also similar to that of the Chief Justice. The Judicial Appointments Commission was established under the Judicial Appointments Commission Act 2009 to assist the Prime Minister in advising the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on the appointment of Superior Court judges and judicial commissioners, including the appointments of the Chief Justice, the President of the Court of Appeal and the Chief Judges of the two High Courts. The Commission selects and recommends to the Prime Minister, candidates who are qualified for appointment. The JAC Act stipulates (menetapkan) that in order to be appointed as a judge, judicial Commissioner, Chief Justice, President of the Court of Appeal, or Chief Judge of a High Court, must possess qualities such as integrity, competency, experience; objectivity; impartiality; good moral character; ability to make timely judgments and good legal writing skills; abilty to mana ge cases well; and physical and mental health.
CIVIL SERVICE /PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION
25. Define ‘Civil Service’ and ‘Public administration.’
Civil Service refers to the entire body of persons employed in government agencies and departments. Civil servants are known as the permanent non-political executive. They are career employees usually chosen by an open competitive examination and promoted on the basis of merit and seniority. They are paid monthly remuneration and are required to serve the government of the day. Their role is to implement the government’s programmes, activities and laws and to act as advisors to the political executive under whom they work.
Public Administration refers to the management of the various activities carried out by the government at the central, state and local levels. It covers all three branches of the government. These activities include planning, formulating and implementing public policies; providing services such as education, health care, welfare; imposing and collecting taxes; licensing; garbage collection; conducting foreign policy and diplomacy, etc.
26. Explain the concept of the ‘Neutrality of the Civil Service.’
According to this concept, civil servants, as permanent and non-political employees of the government, should serve the government of the day with enthusiasm, integrity and impartiality. In other words, they must show political neutrality. This means that they should not be aligned with any political party. For this reason, top civil servants are not allowed to take active part in politics. They should quit their job if they are keen to stand for election or participate in party politics. Since civil servants are the servants of the state, they are required to apply the laws and policies of the government impartially and fairly. While applying the laws of the state, they should not show any partiality or preference to any individual, any race or any group of individuals in society. They should be guided only by the application of law equally to everybody. In their relations with the public, too, civil servants must be impartial. This implies no discrimination against any group. In a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious society like Malaysia, it is vital that civil servants uphold this cardinal (terutama) principle.
27. Explain the principles of public administration.
The principles of public administration may be stated as follows:
a) Public administration is governed by certain laws, procedures and regulations. Those involved in it should therefore act within the scope of their powers and functions fixed by those laws to ensure legality.
b) Public agencies should use the resources (men, money and material) entrusted to them prudently (secara hemat), efficiently and effectively. Waste and extravagance should be avoided.
c) Service delivery should be of pre-determined quality and be prompt.
d) Public services must be provided impartially, fairly, equitably and without bias.
e) Transparency (ketelusan) must be fostered by providing the public with timely, accessible and accurate information; decision-making should be open and transparent.
f) It must be people-centred and be responsive to the needs of the people.
g) It must be broadly representative of the Malaysian population, with employment and human resource management practices based on merit, objectivity and fairness.
h) It must be development-oriented and performance-based. Programmes and activities of the government must be implemented according to schedule, with consistent and continuous monitoring. Programmes and projects must be evaluated on a timely basis and remedial action must be taken to rectify non-performing programmes and projects.
i) It must be accountable for all its actions and performance to the people.
j) Public administration is required to promote and maintain a high standard of professional ethics and neutrality.
k) Appointments to positions in government should be based on proper assessment of merit and competence. Good human resource management practices and career development practices must be in place in order to maximize human potential and develop human capital to meet the needs of the nation.
l) It must be governed by democratic values and principles enshrined in the constitution.
28. What is meant by ‘Politics- Administration Dichotomy’?
In his essay on “The Study of Administration” Woodrow Wilson (1880), an US scholar and statesman, suggested that there is a difference between ‘administration’ and ‘politics.’ They are not the same. This came to be known as the politics-administration dichotomy. According to him, ‘Politics is the expression of the will (kehendak/niat) of the state and ‘administration’ is the execution of that will. In other words, politics is about policy- making and administration concerns policy-execution. In short, policy-making is the business of politics and policy implementation is the business of administration. This means that administration has no role to play in policy-making, and is limited to only policy execution. Elected law-makers represent politics and politically –neutral technocrats and bureaucrats (civil servants) represent administration. This theory has been rejected by most scholars (sarjana- sarjana). It is no longer valid. Scholars like Appleby, Simon and Waldo are of the view that there is no clear separation between politics and administration. Public administration is policy- making and is part of the political process. In other words, public administration contributes to both the formulation and execution of policies. We can say that in the modern world public administrators, particularly the senior officers, play an important role in the policy-making process. They identify problems and issues and carry out research and studies and initiate and prepare policies and laws for submission to the political executive. They also advise politicians on national issues and policies.
POLITICAL PARTIES & PRESSURE GROUPS
29. Define ‘Political Party’ and explain the characteristics of political parties.
A political party is an organised group of people who share the same political views and try to control the government.
The characteristics of a political party are the following:
a) Political parties have a formal organisation structure.
b) They have specific ideologies or policies (such as nationalist, socialist, liberal democracy, conservative, religious, etc) to promote among citizens.
c) Their aim is to promote national interest and not any sectional interest.
d) They aim to control the government by constitutional and peaceful means.
e) They educate the masses on political matters through public meetings, propaganda and electoral campaigns.
f) They serve as a link between the government and the people and between the legislative and the executive branches of the government.
g) Their membership is broad and varied (i.e. includes people in all income brackets, occupations, religion, race, etc )
30. Discuss the differences between political parties and pressure or interest groups.
The differences between political parties and pressure groups may be explained as follows:
a) A political party is generally a much larger organization than a pressure group.
b) Political parties contest elections to gain political control but pressure groups only try to promote their cause by influencing government policy.
c) Political parties have wide-ranging policies, such as economic, political, social and environmental, whereas pressure group policies are specific and their interests are limited – they promote a simple and single cause such as the environment, labour, human rights, etc.
d) Political parties attempt to make people politically conscious by making them aware of their rights and civic responsibilities as citizens. In contrast, pressure groups do not try to do this.
e) Political parties are active both within and outside the legislature, whereas pressure groups are active only outside the legislature.
31. Define “Pressure Groups” and explain the various types of pressure/interest groups.
Pressure/Interest groups are voluntary associations of individuals who have common goals and who work together to achieve their objectives by attempting to influence government policy.
Examples of pressure groups are: SUARAM, CUEPACS, Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC) , Amnesty International, Greenpeace, ALIRAN, Bar Council of Malaysia; Malaysian Medical Council; Sisters in Islam, etc. Interest/pressure groups may be classified into four broad categories as follows:
iii. Non- Associational and
These are ad hoc (unplanned) or spontaneous groups with a collective response to a particular frustration or a situation. They come into existence as a result of turmoil and excitement, a crisis, a specific event or issue. Anomic groups do not have a formal structure or leaders and their actions are often violent. They express their grievances through violent riots, demonstrations and street protests. Some examples of anomic groups are: Popular uprising / revolt in Tunisia and Egypt in January 2010; Disaffected (dissatisfied/frustrated) youths in poor urban areas in France (in 2005) protesting against discrimination; thousands of people around the world gathering in street protests to demand an end to Israel’s offensive in Lebanon and Gaza in 2006; Street protests, general strikes and demonstrations against food and fuel price hike; increases toll rates; rampant corruption and abuse of power and increasing criminal activities in particular areas of a country.
These are formally and well-organized groups formed to represent the interests of a particular group. Associational groups promote economic and vocational interests; public interest or single issues or protect the interests of their members. Trade unions, business and commercial associations, consumer associations and professional bodies are examples of this type of group. Their unique character is that they represent a section of society, like workers, consumers, employers, farmers, fishermen, miners, professionals, home owners, pensioners, etc. Some examples of associational groups in Malaysia are: Association of Banks in Malaysia (ABM); Bar Council Malaysia; Federation of Malaysia Manufacturers (FMM); Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC); Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM); FOMCA; Farmers Association of Malaysia.
These are the complete opposite of associational interest groups. They have no formal organisation. They are composed of individuals who feel close to others on the basis of class, race, religion, culture or gender. These groups are present in every society and their activity is dependent on the issue at hand. They disappear when the issue is no longer pressing. French Canadians, Protestants, Catholics, Muslims, Westeners, Consumers, University students and Sport groups are examples of this type of group.
These are groups which are within the Government. They attempt to influence or put pressure through the machinery of the government itself. In other words, they act internally (through negotiation and dialogue) to influence public decisions or policies or to defend their own interests. They are well-structured, formal organizations with stable membership, clear objectives and in-depth knowledge of all sectors of the government and their clients. They are not involved in political activity. As they are part of government departments or agencies, they are politically neutral. Examples of institutional groups in Malaysia are: CUEPACS, the National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP); the Malaysian Nurses’ Union; the Academic Staff Unions of Universities.
32. Explain the strategies or tactics used by pressure/interest groups to influence government policy.
Pressure groups use a variety of tactics and strategies to influence government policy and to achieve their objectives. These may be described as follows:
The most common pressure group/interest group technique is lobbying. “Lobbying” means seeking to influence and persuade decision-makers, government officials or law-makers to support a group’s position or cause. Pressure groups hire professionals who are knowledgeable about particular issues to influence policy-makers. The representatives of pressure groups who make direct, private (personal) and face-to- face contact with law-makers and government leaders and officials to communicate the desires and views of pressure/interest groups on certain political or social issues or influence public policy are called lobbyists. Lobbyists help pressure groups promote their cause by talking directly to the bureaucrats and legislators; they testify at legislative committee hearings and offer their technical expertise or specialized knowledge; they alert legislators of a bill’s effects on their constituencies; they help influential members in a constituency contact a legislator’s office to express their views; they get involved in government policy planning agencies; they organize advertising campaigns to oppose a particular bill or to publicize the group’s cause or give wide publicity to the group’s position on a particular issue; and they commission public opinion polls to show policy-makers that public opinion is strongly inclined in one direction.
In order to persuade members of parliament and government officials of their point of view, lobbyists provide policy-makers with pamphlets, reports, vital statistics, and other kinds of carefully-researched , detailed, specific and up-to-date information supporting a group’s position on a particular issue. Some legislators depend upon the specialized advice of lobbyists on certain very complex subjects or issues in order to help them decide how to vote on a bill.
ii. Mass Campaigns
Pressure groups also use the mass media – i.e. radio, Television, newspapers, journals, the internet and weblogs (blogs) and social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, WiserEarth, Friendster, LinkedIn, Video, Tagged, etc. to connect to the people and inform the public and gain support for their views or cause. Coverage in the mass media helps interest groups communicate their message to a broad audience that includes both the general public and government decision-makers. For example, environmentalists have run television, newspaper, internet and magazine advertisements to dramatize pollution and the hazards it poses to life and health.
iii. Publicity Campaigns
Pressure groups also organize public information campaigns to mobilize and galvanize ordinary people and win public support for their views or cause. They hope public opinion in their favour will influence decision-makers. Many pressure groups urge their members to write petitions, letters, fax, emails and make phone calls to government officials, ministers and legislators to demonstrate broad support for or against a particular policy.
iv. Public Protests
These include marches, rallies, demonstrations, strikes, pickets and boycotts. Pressure groups have often used these tactics to seek policy changes or to show opposition to certain policies. Mass rallies against globalization, privatization, trade policies of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and mass protests against the Lebonon, Vietnam and Iraq wars are some examples.
If the government is unresponsive to their concerns and causes, pressure groups turn to the courts for remedy. They use litigation (law suits) to gain support for their cause by working within the court system. This may be important in setting a precedent in matters or issues for which there is no pre-existing legislation or policy, such as the recent Ontario (Canada) court ruling that women can bare (uncover or expose) their breasts in public if they desire to do so (i.e. go topless anywhere they please!) ; people can own guns; and gays and lesbians can get married.
Interest groups normally use the courts to influence policy through the filing of direct lawsuits challenging government policy decisions and filing amicus curiae briefs (i.e. a document outline the views of an interested party / group on a matter that is the subject of a court hearing) and offering legal assistance and financing suits brought by individuals.
vi. Organizing Election Campaigns
Pressure groups involved in election campaigns by endorsing candidates sympathetic to the group’s objectives or those who will support their cause or positions on certain issues. They make financial contributions to the candidates they have endorsed to take care of campaign expenses.
ELECTION & ELECTORAL SYSTEMS
33. Explain the factors that can ensure a free and fair election.
The factors that could ensure a free and fair election are the following:
a) An independent Election Commission must be established to conduct and manage elections without being controlled or interfered with by the government or any other authority.
b) All registered parties should be given fair and equal access to the media to get their message across to the people.
c) Elections must be held periodically (secara bekala) to give the voters a right and an opportunity to elect their representatives freely.
d) A system of fair laws, rules and regulations relating to elections must be in place.
e) All parties and independents must strictly observe the rule of law and reject the use of violence and intimidation during the election, on Election Day and after the election.
f) All eligible voters should be registered duly without any discrimination and secrecy of voting must be maintained.
g) Elections must be monitored by independent observers and reporting on the elections must be impartial.
h) The resources of the government – equipment, vehicles, personnel and media – should not be used for the ruling party’s election campaign.
i) An independent election court should be established to interpret the electoral laws impartially in case of electoral dispute.
j) The ballots (votes) must be counted fairly, as quickly and promptly as possible, and reported accurately.
k) Voters must have easy access to polling stations and they should be given sufficient time to vote.
l) Elections must be conducted on the basis of the principle “one person one vote.”
m) Fraudulent practices such as double voting, removal of valid ballot papers, ballot box stuffing and ballot box swopping should be eliminated.
34. Define “electoral system” and explain any two types of electoral systems that you have studied.
‘Electoral system’ refers to the laws, methods, procedures and rules and regulations used for counting votes to determine the outcome of an election. It is also known as ‘voting system’ (sistem pilihanraya) or ‘representation system.’
The two types of common electoral systems are the First-past-the-post system (FPTP) and Proportional Representation (PR).
First- past- the- post System
This electoral system is also known as Single-member District (Constituency) system or Plurality voting system, or Simple Majority system, or Winner-takes-all system. It is also sometimes known as Territorial or Geographical Representation system.
In this system, members of a legislature are elected one at a time in small constituencies. The winner will be the candidate who secures the highest number of votes (most votes); whether he wins by one vote or 10,000 votes, it does not matter. Malaysia uses this system of voting.
The advantages of this system are the following:
It is simple, easy to understand and easier to administer; election results are quickly calculated and it is decisive; and a majority government is likely which may lead to more stable government.
Other advantages of this system are: it provides a clear-cut choice for voters between two main parties; it gives rise to single-party governments; it gives rise to a coherent opposition in the legislature; it promotes a link between constituents and their representatives, as it produces a legislature made up of representatives of geographical areas- elected members represent specific areas of cities, towns or regions rather than party labels; it allows voters to choose between people rather than just between parties based on their assessment of the performance of individual candidates.
The demerits of this system of representation are: Sometimes a candidate is elected to parliament on a minority of the total number of votes cast in a particular constituency; this system excludes minority or smaller parties from ‘fair’ representation.
Proportional Representation (PR)
This electoral system is based on the idea that each party should obtain representation in proportion to the number of votes secured by it in an election. To implement the system, the country is divided into multi-member constituencies in which each party would be represented in proportion (seimbang) to the votes it obtained. The multi-member constituencies may be relatively small, with only 3 or 4 members, or they may be larger, with ten or more members. The important feature of this electoral system is that they divide up the seats in these multi-member districts according to the proportion of votes received by the various parties. Thus, if the candidates of a party win 40%^ the votes in ten- member district, they receive four of the ten seats - or 40% of the seats. If another party wins 20% of the votes, it gets two seats, and so on. The basic principles of the PR system are that all voters deserve representation and that all political groups in society deserve to be represented in the legislatures in proportion to their strength in the electorate. In other words, everyone should have the right to fair representation.
35. Define ‘voting behaviour’ and explain the factors that determine the outcome of an election.
‘Voting behaviour’ refers to how people vote in an election – i.e. How they make their choice (pilihan) of a candidate or party or how they decide who to vote for. In other words, what factors do they consider as important before they cast their ballot. Put simply, it means how or on what basis the voters make their decisions.
Several basic factors can be identified as reasons for choosing a candidate or party in a general election. A voter may choose a candidate on the basis of one or more of the following considerations:
a) Party Identification
This is also known as party affiliation, partisanship or party loyalty. Some voters identify with one of the major parties and the party ties or loyalty influence the vote. Race, religion, region, occupation, social class (middle class, working class) and family background influence the voters’ choice of party identification. The major influence on party affiliation or party attachment comes from the family, teachers and peers. If your parents were members or supporters of particular party, chances are that you will be one, too. Party identification is a long-term factor (lifelong commitment).
a) Personality of Candidates.
Voters also judge candidates by their personal characteristics. They are likely to vote for candidates they perceive (memandang) as capable (berkebolehan) of being effective leaders. Personal characteristics/traits or qualities (sifat) include personal life (the way candidates lead their personal life), character, personal appeal and appearance, competency (kecekapan), leadership ability, experience, knowledge, honesty, integrity, morality, trustworthiness and empathy (caring about people).
b) General Assessment of Government Performance/Party Performance
Voters rely on general evaluations of the government or the party in power. Retrospective (past) evaluation of government performance is an important, more immediate or short-term determinant (penentu) of voting behaviour. How well the government has done; how well its pre-determined objectives have been achieved; what the government should do or should not do; has the national economy and national security improved – these are questions that the voters will evaluate before they make a decision and before going to the polls.
c) Issue Voting.
Many voters say they vote only on policy issues (short-term consideration). This means that they choose a candidate based on his stand (pendirian) on questions of great importance to them. These issues include: abortion; immigration reform; health care; gun control; gay marriages; minority rights; religious issues; state of the economy (keadaan ekonomi negara); inflation; budget deficit; women’s rights; Housing; transportation; price increases (fuel , food items); conduct of foreign policy; personal income; welfare benefits; minimum wage; education reforms; and political and economic reforms. Gender, race, religion, age, social class, election campaign (party Manifesto, speeches, electoral strategies, current issues, etc), media power /influence and political advertising are other factors that may determine the outcome of an election.
FORMS OF GOVERNMENT
36. Explain the characteristics of a constitutional government.
The features of a constitutional government are the following:
a) In a constitutional government there are limits on the powers of the government. The Constitution, as the supreme law of the land, imposes the limits- i.e. actions that the government may not take.
b) The government is run according to the principles of the constitution - i.e. there is rule of law which is the most important feature of a constitutional government. The government has to respect and follow the laws of the country.
c) The government is formed by the consent (persetujuan) of the governed (yang diperintah) and the people are governed according to the rule of law (keluhuran undang-undang).
d) There is equality before the law. The rulers and the citizens are subject to the same law. Citizens can challenge government action (if it abuses its authority) in an independent court.
e) Individual rights and liberties (freedoms) are protected and guaranteed in the constitution.
f) The government can only be changed by peaceful means and with the consent of the people and according to established procedures.
g) There is an independent judiciary to decide cases or disputes impartially.
h) There is separation of powers between the three branches of the government. Each branch of government has some control over the other two branches so that no one branch of government becomes too powerful. This is called a system of checks and balances.
i) The citizens are given the right to choose their representatives in elections held periodically (secara berkala).
j) The government is accountable to its citizens for all its actions.
k) The courts have the power to review the legality of the laws and actions of the government.
l) The Constitution, the supreme law of the land, can only be amended according to established procedures.
37. Explain the characteristics of a totalitarian government.
The characteristics of a totalitarian government may be explained as follows:
i. It is an autocratic government with a single party or leader (dictator). (e.g. North Korea, Cuba, People’s Republic of China, Germany under Adolf Hitler)
ii. It holds all political, economic, military and judicial power.
iii. It controls even the private life of the people.
iv. It is not accountable to the people and it cannot be controlled by them.
v. There is an official ideology and the people are required to accept and obey it. (Communism, Marxism, racial superiority etc).
vi. The leader and the state are considered important but the people are not.
vii. Totalitarian governments do not allow activities by individuals or groups (such as labour / trade unions, protests, demonstrations and open criticism of the government).
viii. Totalitarian governments maintain themselves in power through secret police, propaganda, and the strict control of the mass media and the use of terror tactics.
For other forms of government – i.e. federal, unitary, parliamentary and presidential governments and monarchy - read my PAD 120 notes. Also read and revise “Understanding Modern Political Terms” posted on my website to have an idea of the important political terms covered in this Course.
(C ) Peter Johnson 2011