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.