International Politics Translation

The US gomen has now been shutdown for a month. Can this happen in Malaysia?

(Artikel asal ditulis dalam Bahasa Melayu. Klik di sini kalau nak baca!)

For the past 35 days, the US Government has been shutdown. Meaning that most government servants didn’t get paid. Because it went on for longer than a month, most government employees missed two paychecks, one of them during their biggest holidays, Christmas. The shutdown was bad enough that the gomen had to serve fast food burgers to the football champions from Clemson University.

Wah, that can feed us for a month... or more! Img from CNN

Look at all those food! Img from CNN

Thankfully, on Friday, the United States (US) President, Donald Trump reportedly agreed to end the US gomen shutdown temporarily. But can Malaysia ever be put through something similar? We took a closer look to find out.

 

So basically the US gomen shutdown cos no one wanted to signed the cheque.

trump signs

Well… the budget allocated for it, to be exact. But before we get deeper into that, let’s just look at how the US gomen works. Congress in the US is like Parlimen in Malaysia. However, a few months ago during the midterms, the Democrats took over, which put them at odds with thePresident, who is from the Republican party.

So, the US gomen shutdown was technically caused by Trump’s plan to build the US-Mexico wall when he demanded over $5billion (RM20.7billion) allocation for the wall, and Congress refused to give it to him.

He probably got the inspiration from the Great Wall of China. Img from Collective Revolution

He probably got the inspiration from the Great Wall of China. Img from Collective Revolution

However, both parties need to agree on a budget for 2019, and Trump stated that he won’t sign a bill with no wall funding. So no budget means, no wall, means gomen got no money to operate.

More than 800,000 federal workers weren’t getting paid. In addition, MILLIONS of Americans were suffering from this shutdown especially those who depended on food and rental assistance.

A volunteer at Joshua Tree National Park, US. Img from CBS News by Mario Tama

A volunteer at Joshua Tree National Park, US. Img from CBS News by Mario Tama

 

GEEZ. Takde gaji Malaysia GG liao!

TLDR; NO. Here’s why.

In most democratic countries including Malaysia, the gomen practices separation of power, normally into three branches; legislative (has the power to make law), executive (executes and enforcers law) and judiciary (administration of justice).

In the US, the executive body is headed by the President himself along with 5 million workers under him while the legislative body is separated into Senate (like our Dewan Negara) and House of Representatives (Dewan Rakyat). And similarly to us, the judiciary body in the US consists of the Supreme court and lower courts.

Here's a chart to give y'all a clearer picture of how the US gomen's separation of power. Img from ourgoverningprinciples.wordpress.com

Here’s a chart to give y’all a clearer picture of how the US gomen’s separation of power is. Img from ourgoverningprinciples.wordpress.com

The Malaysian gomen’s executive power, on the contrary, is vested in the cabinet which is led by our Prime Minister la. We also have the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (YDPA), who has several roles such as opening and adjourning the Parliament, passing the bill and executing the power of legislation upon the advice of the Cabinet.

But one major difference between the US and Malaysian gomen is the Presidential system. The US, which uses the Presidential system, has the President who is chosen directly by the people and are answerable to the voters. And once the President is chosen, he or she has to remain his or her post for the full term even though the political party that the President represents becomes the minority.

However, that’s not the case for Prime Ministers. Malaysia, which uses the Parliamentary system has a Prime Minister who is elected the same way other legislature members (cabinet members) are elected. And, normally, the Prime Minister is the leader of the party that wins the majority of votes. But if the Parliament doesn’t favour the Prime Minister, it can use a ‘no confidence’ motion to remove the him or her. The Prime Minister can also be removed if his or her own party members vote him or her out.

We're not comparing them but the system both countries used. Img from Utusan

We’re not comparing them but the system both countries used. Img from Utusan

Malaysia also has two chambers under the legislative body which are the Senate (Dewan Negara) and House of Representatives (Dewan Rakyat). Although both chambers can enact bills, only the House of Representatives and a Minister can enact ‘Money Bill’ (which deals with money like taxation). Normally, when a bill is enacted, it has to go through both chambers before it is being passed to the YDPA for approval.

NAH, BACA:
Who's happier - Malaysians or Singaporeans? We ask psychologists!

Having said that, the answer to our previous question is no, our gomen cannot shutdown. This is cos any bills will eventually be passed in Malaysia although any of the chambers disagree to pass the bill cos we have… the YDPA! This would mean that rejecting a bill will only delay the process of passing it.

For instance, when the Senate decided to reject the the bill to repeal the Anti Fake News Law. When this happened, ofcos the process to pass this bill got a bit delayed. That’s why Hanipa Maidin, the Deputy Minster in the Prime Minister’s Department stated:

“We’re not trying to rush for the bill to be repealed. It’s up to them (the Senate) if they want to delay it. I just want to send a message to the Barisan Nasional Senator that the rakyat is watching.” – Hanipa Maidin, translated from BM for FMT.

 

However, Parliament got suspended once. And dissolves every 5 years!

When Malaysia was declared a state of Emergency after the May 13th incident, the Parliament was suspended. The National Operations Council (NOC) was established as a supreme decision-making body that took over the role of the state and district gomen. This was basically a dangerous time that had to be approved by the Agong to facilitate fast decision making.. kinda like what Najib was trying to do with the NSC.

Also, the Malaysian Parliament dissolves every 5 years. When that happens, y’know something is coming…

ge is coming prev ec chairman

The previous Chairman of the Election Commission, Mohd Hashim Abdullah before GE14.

And the reason we used Hashim in the pic above instead of Azhar Harun, the current Chairman of the Election Commission, is that we’ll be using the General Elections 14 (GE14) to explain what happens when the Parliament dissolves.

When the Prime Minister announced the dissolution of Parliament, the elected members of the legislature will step down from their positions to give way for the general elections. Although the Parliament is dissolved, a caretaker gomen will govern the country until the polling wrapped up and a clear victor emerges. For instance, Najib and the members of his cabinet acted as the caretaker of the gomen during GE14.

But this doesn’t mean that gomen shutdown happened during these periods. This is cos the gomen is running as usual with proper funding. When the Parliament dissolves, the caretaker gomen works somewhat like the gomen but with limited power. It only serves the purpose to ensure the day-to-day administration of the state can continue without disruption.

However, the caretaker gomen cannot do anything that binds the new gomen such as making new policies or enter into new agreements. And most importantly, the caretaker gomen shouldn’t be using the gomen machinery and resources in any way to gain political advantages. So, this would mean that during this period, the gomen still has money la. A gomen shutdown, on the contrary, happens the gomen doesn’t get its funding (cos it’s not approved lor).

 

Aiyo, can politicians just stop fighting already??

Fights among politicians between political parties might be a norm in any democratic countries. But politicians might not want to overdo it la. Earlier we mentioned how disagreements between political parties in the US caused the gomen shutdown. During this period, some people have predicted the end of the US gomen shutdown like the possibility of the shutdown to continue or Trump striking a deal with the Congress.

us gomen shutdown archives

Wah, the US gomen shutdown also affects the National Archives’ website! Screengrab from Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

But, at the time of writing, Trump signed a bill to temporarily end the shutdown and he did that because he reportedly wanted to take care of the millions of people who were affected by the shutdown. However…

“If we don’t get a fair deal from Congress the government will either shut down on February 15 again.” – Donald Trump for BBC.

Aduh, not again!? And we don’t only see politicians fighting in the US but also here! Although we can see how our politicians fight or troll each other online, at least, we don’t have a history of a shutdown and won’t end up with a gomen shutdown like the US.

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