Thursday, February 21, 2008

It's time to party

I've been hearing a lot about "How to Vote" or "How to Choose Your MP" in the run-up to the coming general elections on 8 March.

My stand is that we have no choice but to vote based on the party, not the candidate. This is the unfortunate state of affairs in Malaysian politics. The system is like that. There is no room for independent voice in the parties. MPs are all subservient to their party leaders. They are nominated by party leaders, not by the people. So if you want your MP to speak out against the establishment, it has to be an Opposition MP. Forget about open debates a la US Presidential election campaigns. This is not Obama vs Clinton. This is BN vs Opposition.

Even if you vote a "good guy" into the BN, he/she still has to follow the party stand. So, if you like BN, then vote for a BN candidate. But if you don't like BN, then vote for an Opposition candidate. (But please don't do a sissy thing such as casting a spoilt vote.) I do not believe there's any hope for a "good guy" to make a change from within BN -- just look at people like Loh Seng Kok or Shahrir Abd Samad or Bernard Dompok or K Devamany. They speak out a little bit too much and *Wham!* they get clobbered back into their little pigeonhole. They are totally constrained by the system.

Sure, some of you will say that the Malaysian way is to resolve issues quietly and behind closed doors. But I also know that a lot of corruption and monkey business goes on behind closed doors.

Another major problem with the Malaysian political system is that too many voters judge an MP's performance based on minor and trivial matters like fixing broken street lights or clearing clogged drains. For goodness' sake, that is the job of a municipal councillor, not a Member of Parliament. This problem is compounded because some MPs or state assemblymen are also appointed as municipal councillors.

But I certainly expect an MP to operate at a higher level, not bogged down by local issues. An MP should be debating national and international issues like global warming, or human rights, or religious freedom, or education policy, or foreign investment, or global competitiveness, or free trade, or oil prices, etc. Instead, the MPs spend their time picking up litter, cutting ribbons, giving boring speeches and toeing the line. Sure, they "serve the people", but this is not the type of service I'm looking for.

The Malaysian political system is not perfect. In fact, it kinda sucks. So until such time as the system changes, voting a parliamentary candidate based on his "performance" will not make much difference. It's time to vote the party.


ailsa said...

I totally agree with you. Any guy or gal will lose their voice once he or she becomes a BN MP. If they who are supposed to represent us become voiceless, thus powerless, then the people who voted for them also become powerless.

And there's no sitting on the fence, because the fence slopes drastically towards BN/UMNO. Any spoilt vote will just roll down towards the BN moat.

Besides no MP is going to worry or think twice about the people who spoil the votes as a vote of no confidence for either parties. The MP or party is not going to go, "Ohhh...1000 spoilt vote, I'd better do my job better this term to gain the confidence of these people." Get real....

yyen said...

Much as I agree with you that we don't really have a choice but to vote based on party, I will not put a prescriptive tag to it.

The national agenda is very important- religious freedom, human rights issues, the economy-, but so are everyday drudgery, matters that seem more trivial yet, nonetheless are 'welfare' to the neighbourhood.

There's a Hakka proverb that says, "Those who don't bother wiping the table clean after they have eaten, cannot be expected to do anything greater."

It's a tough choice to make...

Viv said...

Sad as it is about the system.. as you have written.. But guess, it will never be perfect...

Anyway, first time for me to vote this time round *guilty face for not exercise my rights earlier on*... and I still wonder who to vote for?? rather, which party to vote for coz I don't know the people.. only know the party... That shows how bad I am at this.. *shy*.. call myself a citizen.. mm..

lina said...

To have a stand is good... keep it up.

Human rights, freedom of religion i.e. all the biggie issues are of utmost importance but neighbourhood wellbeings/welfare is as important. Local municipal will not budge an inch even if there are major protests from folks of the neighbourhood unless you are someone of authority. That's the truth and it's sad.

Whether system is ok or sucks, do not make any difference at this point of time. Protests do seem to come only when nearing the E day. Am as much as guilty =(

Sigh... kinda depressing thinking about it. Anyway, a group of us gonna have a field of a time "grilling" Lee Hwa Beng this weekend... hehehe...I wonder if he dares to turn up after his last remark. Hmmm... something to look forward to =D

HL said...

I'm not saying that local issues are not important. What I am saying is that local issues should be handled by local councillors, not by MPs. Of course, some issues transcend all levels, but surely MPs should not be so bogged down by local issues that they neglect national issues. For example, your area may be having traffic congestion problems (a local issue?) but it is related to national policies like the automotive policy, public transport and urban planning standards.

Anyway, I'm making a black-and-white stand on this gray issue, because delving into they grayness will only be too politically correct and safe and going in circles. :)

anon#1 said...

Clean longkangs are our BASIC RIGHT and something to be EXPECTED from whomever is in govt
( it should not be a “present” /“reward” /“election carrot” )

Can’t do the open debate ala US presidential elections anyway, because our politicians are too stupid, inarticulate, shallow and immature – and they’d be too scared – and it’d be too scary to watch too :(