LETTER | The prime minister’s advice against hate politics is most welcomed by all right-thinking Malaysians. The good advice is also very timely at this time, only a few months before the 14th general election (GE14).
However, this hate politics is not practised by some opposition leaders alone, but by some politicians of the ruling political party as well. Hence, the pertinent advice or warning should apply to them too.
I believe that Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak did not mean to offer this good advice only to some opposition political leaders and not to some of his own party’s political leaders.
Indeed, hate politics, racial and religious bigotry from any and all political quarters should, to be fair, be equally condemned with the same vehemence.
There cannot and must not be double standards conceived or implemented in administrative justice and righteousness for all Malaysians, regardless of race or religion or economic, social or geographic disposition.
The prime minister’s advice should be included by the voters in their criteria for voting for GE14, together with other vital criteria.
What should be the criteria for voting in GE14?
1. The prime minister’s advice to reject hate politics must be followed by all. Thus all election candidates who have a record of making hate statements that undermine national unity, at any time, should be rejected at the ballot box.
The press has highlighted these anti-unity statements and elements and they should be easily traced and punished at the polls.
2. Religious parties and leaders and practitioners who have condemned other religions or religious practices in the past should be identified and cast aside at the polls. All those who have preached hatred and intolerance should similarly be isolated at the polls.
3. Corrupt candidates should definitely be castigated. How can we fight corruption if we vote for those known to be living beyond their means and especially those known to be corrupt? Perhaps the MACC could help voters in this regard?
4. Racists who are known to have made racial remarks and slurs are well-known.
It will be irresponsible of voters to ignore the candidates’ previous racist public statements and yet to support them at the polls. Then we can be construed as having contributed to and condoned racism ourselves. So we have to be very vigilant and cast our votes even against perceived racists.
5. True Malaysian candidates who have shown a record of solid service to improve the welfare of all Malaysians and not only to the elite or particular racial and religious groups should be rejected at the polls.
We have to establish a new election culture, where we will vote for integrity and fairness, and only for those who will improve the welfare and quality of life of all Malaysians, based on basic needs and human rights and not on the basis of race and religion!
6. It would be useful to vote for candidates who fulfil the above criteria rather than
vote for political parties per se. Often political parties all over the world can be hijacked by big business and other narrow political, racial and religious vested interests that look after the rich and the powerful only.
This phenomenon is observed as state capture and money politics that will serve the interests of the higher and exclusive levels of society and not the rakyat, right up to the middle-income groups.
7. The election manifestos of all political parties and individual candidates and their past performances will have to be carefully scrutinised before the candidates are voted in.
Once they are elected into positions of power, they can be a danger to our individual welfare and national progress, unless these candidates are properly vetted and carefully elected.
8. Inflation and the cost of living have been steadily rising, while the standards of living have been falling, especially for the lower income groups. Transformation of the country and the economy should therefore be more structural than marginal.
While for instance, abolishing road tolls, and providing 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M) and other aid to farmers, fishermen and school children are necessary and welcome, the major causes of our socio-economic and political structural weaknesses should be addressed more aggressively and speedily.
9. The election manifestos must clearly outline what we will do to raise efficiency, and competitiveness, to reduce crime, to discourage the severe brain drain, to raise wages and incomes and to raise the quality of education, and to adjust more to the challenges of the digital economy.
10. Finally, we have to choose our political leaders wisely and diligently or pay a high price in terms of failure.
The wrong choices of candidates, along with any manipulation of the electoral system, can cause immense loss of Malaysian public as well as international confidence, that will cause us to falter more and decline as a nation and as Malaysians.
This is why it is regrettable that about four million Malaysians still have not registered to vote. This is a shame. We have to exercise our rights and responsibilities or blame ourselves if we have more bad governance in the future.
The prime minister’s advice against hate politics should apply to all forthcoming election candidates and also to bad governance, for the better progress of our beloved country and people! We all deserve a better deal for the future.
A blessed new year to all!
RAMON NAVARATNAM is chairperson of the Asli Centre of Public Policy.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.