Nominations for the 12th General elections went on smoothly without any major hitches. The various political parties have revealed their manifestos and vigorous campaign for votes have begun. Each party and the candidates themselves claim they are the best. We really hope the parties concerned, both ruling and opposition, have provided their best candidates for the people.
It was heartening to see opposing candidates putting aside their political differences and greeting each other in a friendly manner during the nominations. We hope their friendliness and goodwill will extend into the campaign period and thereafter. We hope they adhere to the election rules and ethics during their campaign, avoiding sensitive issues and personal attacks against their opponents.
It is encouraging that in over 90% of the constituencies there is a straight one-to-one fight between the BN and the opposition, making it easier for the voters to make their pick. It was a great achievement on the part of the opposition. It is now up to the voters to scrutinize the merits of each candidate and the party they represent before deciding who they elect to represent their interests in parliament and state assemblies. After 50 years, I am sure the people are mature enough to choose the best candidate and the party as their wakil rakyat.
Unfortunately this time certain unhealthy trends appeared to have set in when it came to the choice of candidates. Firstly, there was the parachuting of high profile national leaders into areas where they were alien but considered “safe seats”. This virtually displaced the local leaders, who had worked tirelessly over the years to gain the trust and support of the local people. This by-passing of local leaders had caused much unhappiness among them and the residents.
Secondly, there appears to be a tendency towards the setting up of political dynasties. A significant number of children and relatives, some extremely young, of important personalities have managed to secure seats to contest.
Thirdly,many veteran politicians despite having passed their prime still refused to step down to make way for capable younger candidates.
Political parties should not allow these practices to take roots as they would deny talented and capable leaders at grassroots from being selected as candidates. Creating dynasties in political parties is unhealthy for the future of the nation as a whole because by doing so only those who are well connected will get a chance to be selected. Selection of candidates should be based purely on merit not otherwise.
A number of issues require serious attention by the government coming into power. These include an escalating cost of living and basic amenities of healthcare, housing and education, corruption, racial and religious polarizations and allegations of discrimination, a partisan public service and high crime rate.
These issues must be addressed immediately and professionally before irreversible damage is done to the socio-economic well being of the country. It needs a government that is not only experienced but possesses the political will to listen to the people and change for the better.
As responsible citizens, we have a very important obligation to our nation on this March 8. It is not about clearing clogged drains, filling potholes, putting up street lights or carrying out projects to beautify the environment, which should be the responsibility of the relevant local authorities. It is far more important than those; we are to elect the people who will deliberate and debate on national policies and issues that will affect not just the present but the future of our nation.
We may not be able to make a complete change this time but we must at least deny the ruling party a 2/3 majority to check its abuses of power and wealth. Every political candidate and party claims they are the best but that is for us to decide and decide we must do with great wisdom, discern and diligence. In a democratic system, it is the voters not the voted are the masters.