LETTER | Less than five months ago, there were calls from certain quarters for then Election Commission chairman Azhar Harun, or better known as Art Harun, to resign from his post. In response, he shot back by asserting that he wouldn’t and had no such intentions of doing so.
Azhar told theSun in early March: “I am not resigning, and as of now I do not have plans to resign. I cannot abandon my secretariat, and my staff have been 100 percent behind me since day one and with talk of a possible general election, I can’t abandon them,” he pledged.
In light of what has been unravelled in our political landscape since February, such words were a balm to the weary soul. We were tearfully thankful that there were still activists and non-politicians whom we could count on to fight the good fight.
Individuals with principles, who dared to stand up for what is right in treacherous times. People we could trust, who wouldn’t be enticed by the dangling carrots of money, power, or position.
Alas, we couldn’t have been more mistaken about Azhar.
Fast forward to June 29, the same man who claimed that he would stand by his secretariat and his staff tendered his resignation to the EC. What seemed like a renewed vow to electoral reform in March has now completely fallen apart.
What is integrity anymore, when political allegiances in this country shift like sinking sand?
Many were shocked to the core by his decision to accept the post as the new Dewan Rakyat speaker and his completely undemocratic installation thereafter. What was even more shocking is how he behaved as a speaker on the first day of the job and how he shamelessly defended his undemocratic appointment at a press conference later.
He turned his back on the organisation and the people he had been leading since September 2018. He turned his back on the very thing he vowed to continue championing - electoral reform. Most of all, he turned his back on the people of Malaysia.
Such betrayal is unthinkable. More so when Azhar was a former lawyer, a human rights activist and a vocal political commentator.
Azhar, have you reflected on what your decision will cost democracy, especially amidst the talk of GE15? Every decision has a consequence, whether you realise it now, later, or never.
By resigning from the EC, you have paved the way for a backdoor government to appoint a backdoor successor who would likely be biased towards it and less committed to the electoral reform.
Whatever electoral reforms that took place during your tenure as the chairman could be reversed and flushed down the drain. Once again, the EC could be misused as a tool of an authoritarian government to be complicit in electoral malpractices.
By accepting the position of the Dewan Rakyat speaker under such dishonourable circumstances, you are implicitly endorsing a backdoor government and its backdoor practices. Can you search your conscience and still claim to be impartial and bipartisan in Parliament?
Not just that, you are also slighting former speaker Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof who was unceremoniously removed despite having done no wrong. What takes the cake is that he was actually your lecturer back in university and also your partner at a law firm you worked at before.
Furthermore, by refusing to properly follow protocols governing parliamentary sittings, you are insulting the very institution of Parliament as a beacon of law and democracy. How can you even open your mouth to talk about parliamentary reform?
Art Harun, you have truly lost yourself. In the process, we have lost you too. And that is the greatest tragedy of all.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.