“People Are The Boss!”
First published in August 1999 (and still relevant today)
Mutual respect is the foundation upon which the people-government relationship in a democratic system is built. The people are the master, and the Government is the servant. Democracy is only a reality when those in power respect this principle.
However, some political figures have mistaken the nation as their private property; they have gone so far as to ask the people to thank the Government for its service. It is important to remind them that in any democratic countries in the world, the people are the real boss, the Government is the management and those in public office are employees.
The Government and those in public office are obliged to serve the people who have appointed them. Whoever seek voter’s support have to convince people with good performance, and be responsible to the people. If the ruling party has performed well, the people will naturally retain them, and the votes reflect their confidence for the future. The covenant between the politicians and the people is built upon deeds, not words.
Politicians have the duty to deliver; the people do not owe them anything, and we do not have to return any favour by giving our votes to them. If politicians fail to perform, they’ll have to resign and make way for others.
This is normal practice in the corporate world. A democratic government is a rational government. The ruling party and opposition parties are political parties alike. Practical policies and the ability to rule constitute the only sound basis of a wise decision – we have to pick those with bright ideas, leadership quality, determination and trustworthiness, in short, we want the best candidates to be our servants.
Most Malaysians have not woken up to the idea of Democracy yet. Many of us lack understanding of our own right as the boss of have not the country. That is why we have seen some bosses (voters) submit memorandum to job applicants for public offices (politicians), and not the other way round. This reverses the normal master-servant relationship. In fact, people should treasure their dignity and resume the role as masters.
We believe it is our responsibility to clear the air. To this end, we have drafted a simple declaration aptly titled “People are the Boss” (See Appendix 1 below). Through the use of simple language and commercial analogy, we hope to redefine and illustrate the relationship between the People and the Government, and bring Malaysian politics back on track.
This declaration is only the beginning; we hope communities across the country could act as the boss again, make known their demands, direct questions at political parties and candidates and promote positive competition among political parties. This will contribute to the progress of the country and the welfare of the people. A boss who does not demand good performance will never be able to motivate his employees. Therefore, we must be a demanding boss to bring out the candidates’ best.
We look forward for your participation in this declaration. “People are the Boss” Declaration is a declaration for every boss in the country.
At the first stage, we hope that Malaysians involved in social commentary, print media and community activities could lead the way, so that more bosses would come forth. If you can think of any ideal bosses to sign this declaration, please let us know or invite them on our behalf.
Thank you, boss!
Appendix 1 – People Are The Boss
Declaration on the People’s Awareness
People are masters of their countries and boss to their governments. This very concept of democracy is respected in any modern states.
When anti-colonialism and nationalism movements swept across the world in the mid-century, their very conviction was to reinforce the status of people as masters, not to remain as slaves to be handed over from foreign conquerors to domestic tyrants.
It is sad to say that 42 years after the country’s independence the “people-masters” concept has gained little ground. What fill our ears are fallacies, as exemplified by remarks such as “People have to be grateful to the government”, “Government-run media are the exclusive propaganda apparatus for the ruling party” and “There will be no development for constituencies that vote in the opposition”.
These utterances not only mirror arrogance on the part of the politicians but also indifference of the people. And, these attitudes are the root cause to many of our country’s problems nowadays: people’s daily livelihood problems going unattended, communities deprived of development, focus of national issues being shifted on to a racist or religious platform, and even unnecessary loss of human lives and properties.
Fools do not beget wise men. People must first come to an awareness of what is going on around them, and what they really want, before they demand progress. We would like to call upon all Malaysians to insist on their right and dignity. Whichever party you may support, this message has to be communicated to the political parties and politicians loud and clear : “People are the boss!”
1. People the Boss, Government the Management
People are the masters of a country; the government is appointed by the people to take care of the country.
Let us compare our country to a company. The people are the boss, and each citizen is a shareholder. The government is the management. People who hold public offices are staff members and not the boss. The salaries of the civil servants and the expenses of the Government are all paid for with the hard-earned money of each and every citizen.
Therefore, it is only right for the government to serve the interest of the people. We, as the boss, have the right to criticize the government. As the management appointed by the people, the government has to respect the public’s wishes; there is no way could it “threaten” or “penalize” its bosses.
2. Election is the Selection Process for a New Management
Each government is appointed for a five-year term. The office of government is vacated when the five-year term expires or when the parliament is dissolved by royal decree on the advice of the current government.
Election is the time for the people, as the boss, to vet the candidates and appoint the new management for the country. All voters are shareholders with voting rights. Voters are absolutely free to decide whether they want to retain the current management, or to appoint a new one. Once the office of government is vacated, the ruling party functions only as a “care-taker government”.
The manager of the company should not use shareholders’ money to promote himself or to advance his personal cause; likewise, the “care-taker government” should not misuse national resources to promote itself so as to enhance its chance of being re-elected.
3. Candidates cannot threaten their Bosses
During the election, all political parties and candidates are the candidates for the up-coming government. They should not resort to tactics to threaten voters.
For example, if the government only allocates fund to develop the constituencies won by the ruling party, it is as ridiculous as the management giving dividends only to an elite section of shareholders.
4. Election is not about Returning Favor
Since popular votes are appointment letters for the next five years, those parties and politicians who win in election actually owe the people a favour for granting the mandate to realize their plans.
Therefore, the parties and politicians are returning the favour to the people when they serve. The people owe politicians nothing indeed. We voters do not have to commit ourselves to anybody. Our choices should depend on how well the politicians can serve our best interests in the next five years.
We review the past performance of the political parties and the candidates only to assess their future intention, inclination and ability in achieving what the bosses want; not to return any favour.
Politicians re-elected should remember that the people do not owe them any favours for the past five years but instead, they now owe the people favours for the next five years.
As the boss of our government, the people must clearly express their wishes and aspirations, and ask the political parties and candidates to fulfill our wishes. We do not have to enslave ourselves and be fettered to the political parties and politicians.
Let us call upon all Malaysians to stand up and step forward, to organize ourselves and present our own needs and expectations (for example, building schools, building places of worship, rescinding toll collection for highways, provision of burial grounds, etc), and demand for the response of all political parties. Only after this will we decide our vote.
We should not humble ourselves and approach political figures with our request in a subservient manner. Where on earth do we have bosses who condescend themselves to beg for things done? We bosses should ensure those with good policies and ability to satisfy our demands to come forth. In this way, whoever elected will respect or accept our demands.
We must respect ourselves to win other’s respect. If we know how to assume our role as the boss, political parties and politicians would have to seek improvement to avoid becoming obsolete. This will lead to more comprehensive and swifter development on the country’s political, economic, social and cultural fronts. This is the only way for a country to achieve real stability, prosperity and advancement.
“Only a smart boss could sustain improvement and development for a company.” We would like to share this with some 10.3 million bosses with voting rights all over the country.
The Bosses’ Action Plan
1. Convene meetings for residents to discuss the nation’s political, economic and local issues. Issue your own “Bosses’ Statement” and urge the political parties and other voters to take your demands and opinions earnestly.
2. Ask the political parties/candidates to make known their stand towards your “Bosses’ Statement”.
3. Monitor the media’s performance. Ensure that the voters’ voices are heard. Act against unprofessional media practice by way of complaint, critical comments, boycott and the like.
4. Monitor the elected candidates to see to it that they fulfill their promises.
► People Are The Boss: Declaration on the People’s Awareness
► How to be an Effective Boss
► How to Be a Good and Civil Servant
► The People’s Voice and The People’s Declaration
► KOMAS: Voter Education – Watch Video: Undilah (Voter Rights)