CIVILISING OUR POLITICS

Posted on August 28, 2008

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My merdeka wish is for civility to infuse, enlighten and become the political culture of Malaysia. Going by what the nation saw and heard in the recent by-election, shame and disgust filled me and thoughts of merdeka could not have been further from my heart and mind. A free nation cannot have its top politicians and national leaders behave this way. 

 

This low-class, low-down, x-rated campaign does not articulate merdeka. It does not represent Malay culture and religion. It is not Malaysian. IT IS NOT ACCEPTABLE.

 

This kind of campaign conduct is shamelessly and irresponsibly based on racist sentiments, malice, character assassination, hearsay, and even faulty theology. More than maligning the rival for which it was intended,  such a campaign also adversely affects national unity as well as the good name of the country. It must be totally and completely rejected and denounced for the cheap politicking that it is.

 

Ironically, this awful kind of campaigning favoured neither the slandered nor the slanderers. Some observers may argue that both sides were guilty of the same practices and that both sides should be responsible to clean up their act. That is fair.

 

But election campaigns do make a difference to how voters make their decisions as to which candidate they would vote for. Otherwise why campaign at all? Therefore, I believe that the result of the recent by-election does reflect to a substantial degree how the respective campaigns were conducted. It is not rocket science, but in this sense, it is clear to me that the side which only won one-third of the votes cast did far more negative and sub-standard campaigning than the side which won two-thirds of the votes.

 

How did one side win two-thirds of the votes? How was their campaign different so as to achieve such a substantially different result? Among other reasons, to a good extent, the voters must have felt that the eventual winners were much more positive and had promoted an agenda which they could embrace and which they believe would lead to desirable change. This was reflected in the extraordinary burst of jubilation that followed the announcement of the results. True their numbers were boosted by outstation supporters but the locals celebrated the end result and it was obvious to the rest of the country that that was the result they wanted. There is ample evidence that that was the result that substantial numbers of people in the rest of the country also wanted.

 

May it be that this will prove to be the watershed for the civilising of Malaysian political culture. For this to happen, all sides must take stock of their handiwork at the recent by-elections. For their own benefit, they need to take a long and hard look at their conduct and learn from their mistakes in order to put up a more civil show and a classier act from here on. Henceforth, they should aspire to win elections by the quality and superiority of the agenda they propose rather than by unfairly running down the character of their rivals with unproven allegations.

 

Their demeanour in parliament must be of a much higher standard. They must focus on critical issues of nation-building, just policies and good govenance beneficial to all the people rather than insulting one another and worse still, insulting the intelligence of their voters.     

 

This will do the nation proud. This is what the rakyat deserves. This is what merdeka should bring.

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted in: Leadership