"If all men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.” In framing a government which is administered by men over men, the great difficulty is “you must first enable the government to control the governed and then to obligeit to control itself.” - James Madison’s The Federalist paper No 51 (Feb 6, 1788).
The 13th Malaysian general election is a very important general election as it is expected to be a close contest between two coalitions - the Umno-led National Front (Barisan Front) or BN and the PKR-led Pakatan Rakyat. This election will be a watershed in Malaysian history because a two-party may be finally born after 56 years of one coalition rule.
The interest of all politicians is to gain power through the coming elections (state and parliament). It is perfectly legitimate and understandable just as all businessmen aspire to a profit. What the public or voters should be vigilant is that candidates (both BN and Pakatan) must be men or women who will uphold the promises of their coalition.
What James Madison, a founding father of the United States of America, wrote some 225 years ago remained a good reminder to all Malaysians, irrespective of race, who had experienced elected politicians behaving like frogs - jumping party for their narrow self-interest.
In politics, there is only one permanent interest - that is self-interest. Madison pointed out that men (including women) were not angels then. They have not likely to become angels because by nature they are selfish and greedy. Most of us have seen these disgusting jumping human frogs in the 56-year history of our country.
The actions of these ‘frogs’ affected both ruling party and the opposition though more often the frogs are attracted by the side which can provide them with more incentives or rewards. The ruling party has the advantages of three Gs - gold (money), guns (enforcement agents), goons (die-hard supporters and hired guns). The 3Gs follow the power.
What can the voters do to weed out these political opportunists? As this is going to be a keenly contested election, the voters should not blinded in any candidate unconditionally.
- Demand that they debate on issues and not indulge in personal attacks.
- Demand that they declare their personal assets - in the case of all incumbents, their current assets and the assets they possessed at the time of they were elected.
- As honey always attracts bees, it is healthy to cast a suspicious eye on those candidates without independent source or sources of income.
- Beware of political chameleons who say what they do not practice.