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LETTER | Choosing your representatives wisely

LETTER | Since GE13, we can see the options of choosing viable winning candidates throughout Malaysia has widened. We have moved on from two coalitions to multi-coalition competition.

Within a coalition, we can see visible internal competition. Ending the era of the supremacy of one coalition or party in the Malaysian electoral scene greatly empowered Malaysian voters with many choices.

With this privilege in mind, Malaysian voters bear a greater responsibility in choosing wisely their elected representative, be it at the federal level or state level.

While our constitution spells out who clearly will be disqualified as a candidate for the Parliament or state assembly level, these requirements (like age, citizenry) will be viewed as a starting base.

If a candidate is to be evaluated from 0 (not worth voting) to 100 (highly qualified candidate), a voter should be able to evaluate an election candidate effectively.

This article suggests the key weighting of a candidate’s characteristics and is meant to help you to choose your candidate wisely. As we go through the article, pick one candidate of your constituency, and assign points to him or her on the go truthfully.

The first characteristic factor a voter should check is the regulatory requirements of the candidate.

Examine the candidate of your constituency whether he or she has committed any actions that could cause his or her disqualification as per Article 48 of the federal constitution or relevant provisions under state constitutions. Any candidates who violated these principles should not be considered at all.

The second characteristic focuses on critical factors of the candidate.

Examine the candidates with these critical requirements (a total weighting up to 24 points). Is the said candidate loyal to the country? Has he or she shown loyalty to the people?

If the candidate comes under a party flag, has he or she shown loyalty to the party (i.e., has he or she hopped?) A voter must ascertain whether the hopping is done with legitimate or selfish purposes. Does the candidate show loyalty to the ideology of the party, or is the candidate a self-serving opportunist?

The third characteristic factor is the personal background of the candidate and this factor can bring up to 12 points at maximum.

Does the candidate have sound financial status or have ongoing suits? Does he or she carry personal baggage like scandals? Does the candidate have good physical health and no life-threatening diseases? We want to avoid unnecessary by-elections. Do you know whether the candidate has any undue pressure from the family that could interfere with his or her ability to discharge duties upon being elected?

The fourth characteristic factor is education qualification, and this factor contributes up to a maximum of 4.5 points.

Does your candidate have a basic first degree? The first degree can provide evidence whether the assemblyperson or MP has the maturity and capacity to debate intellectually or not.

Among the 84 candidates of Pakatan Harapan, PN and BN for the ongoing Malacca elections, it is estimated that 34 candidates have not attained the education level of bachelor’s degree.

You can check Tindak Malaysia's Malacca election site to learn about the candidate’s educational standing.

If the said candidate wants to position himself/herself as an exco/ cabinet member/ chief minister/ prime minister, does the candidate have a master’s degree or PhD? If the candidate has any international awards, it will contribute 1 point for this category.

The fifth characteristic factor is the political and non-political experience of the candidate. This carries up to 11 points.

How long has the candidate been with the party? In the last five years, has he or she been involved with higher-level positions in the party? For party-flagged candidates, has the candidate shown commitment to party activities, training, and by-election/general election preparations?

For non-political experience, what was his or her career background? Has he or she held management positions before? Has he or she been involved in social or charitable works in the last five years? Has the candidate demonstrated his or her intellectual capacity (producing papers or articles)? Or does he or she have overseas working experience?

The sixth characteristic factor is soft skills, and this category carries a maximum of 22.5 points.

Does the candidate project a positive image for the public? Is he or she fluent in Bahasa Malaysia and English? Does the candidate have fluency in other languages relevant to the constituency? Has he or she demonstrated good management skills (i.e., crisis management, delegation, planning, public speaking)?

The seventh characteristic factor is the finances of the candidate, and this category carries up to 13 points.

Does the candidate have strong financial stability? Is he or she capable of managing personal finances? Is he or she transparent with personal assets and liabilities?

The eighth characteristic factor is leadership skills, and this category brings up to 15 points.

Has the candidate demonstrated grassroots support (such as the ability to recruit individuals)? Has he or she been able to raise an election team for training? Does he or she have a party position (for party flagged candidates)? Has he or she demonstrated three years or above constituency level work? Has he or she been involved in community projects?

The ninth characteristic factor is the incumbency of the candidate, and this category brings up to 6 points.

Has he or she served as a local councillor before? If you know the performance of the candidate for this role is poor, that would be enough for you to look for other candidates. If the candidate has served as assemblyperson, exco, MP or minister, what do you think of their performance?

The final characteristic factor is the personal platform and political position, and this category brings up to 3 points. Does the said candidate maintain a blog or website or publication about his or her position or policy solutions? Does he or she maintain a Facebook or Twitter page?

From this evaluation, the maximum number of points a candidate can receive is 111. The total points shall be divided by 1.11 to normalise the score (as we want to have evaluated scores to be within 0 and 100).

While the evaluation list of the candidate sounds exhaustive, you will understand the seriousness of your vote. Your politician is the best and worst reflection of yourself. Hence it is important that you know your candidates well enough. Vote wisely in these coming elections

DANESH PRAKASH CHACKO is Tindak Malaysia’s director and research analyst at the Jeffrey Sachs Centre on Sustainable Development (Sunway University).

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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