What some urban voters want


URBAN voters are a diverse lot. Some Malaysians living in the city share their thoughts on what they expect from the 15th General Election (GE15) and what they look for in political candidates.

Derek Fernandez, 57, a lawyer who is a local government and planning law expert, feels that the issues that need to be seriously addressed in the next general election are ensuring more jobs are created for Malaysians and improving the national economy to meet current global challenges.

“This requires placing competence above political ties in appointments and having the courage to do what it takes so that Malaysia is food and energy sufficient.

“Second, strengthen the concept of a united Malaysia where race, gender or religion are not made obstacles to opportunity and ability to grow. Third, change restrictive and outdated policies to stop the national brain drain where many capable Malaysians are leaving the country for better opportunities.

“Fourth, deal with cybersecurity threats and have policies to protect the public from being victims of cybercrime.

“Fifth, bring back local government elections.

“Sixth, overhaul policies in the financial and banking system to ensure more equitable distribution of financial services to all and ensure fair consumer protection. Seventh, stabilise the ringgit and discuss with like-minded countries to reduce dependence on the US dollar for international trade and promote the use of all national and regional currencies for regional or global trading.”

Derek FernandezDerek Fernandez

He adds that, “It is important for the public to pick candidates with integrity who are not bigots or racist and who hold the principle that for the country to grow we need a united, inclusive Malaysia where all people are judged by the content of their character and not by other immutable characteristics. And we need candidates who place public service above self.”

Anthony Thanasayan, 62, is the president of Petpositive, an animal- assisted therapy association for the disabled and elderly.

He believes monthly aid of RM500 must be given to all disabled Malaysians regardless of any other assistance they might be getting. The few that do receive aid get amounts that are far from enough to make a meaningful difference.

Anthony ThanasayanAnthony Thanasayan

“The recent governments, from PH [Pakatan Harapan] onwards to present day, have failed to offer this basic help, which would go a long way towards improving the quality of our lives.

“And when this is done, there should be no interference from welfare agencies to dictate how the money should be spent. We are not children and should not be patronised. This is what they plan to do with social welfare department wages for the few working disabled who receive RM450 a month.

“Second, local councils are moving too slowly in including disabled and elderly residents in their planning programmes and infrastructure. They must set up a council that includes these groups to monitor and give useful feedback on the usability of accessibility features as the end users. These special committees should meet at least twice a month instead of once or twice a month.”

As for his ideal candidate, he says “I would want to vote for a person who will be sensitive to disabled persons’ needs, who will prioritise us and not be afraid to speak up for us. That person must also be willing to meet with disabled groups constantly to be in tune with our needs.”

Mohamed Umar Peer Mohamed, 61, is real estate consultant, and is looking for candidates who will speak up about the need for foreign workers.

“Most industries in Malaysia need to have an organised team of workers to achieve targeted productivity. In business we need to hire foreign manpower as the cost of hiring is undoubtedly reasonable and there is work efficiency. We need a clear roadmap in recruiting foreign workers.”

Mohamed Umar Peer MohamedMohamed Umar Peer Mohamed

When it comes to candidates, he says they must be local residents of the constituency and not a “parachute” candidate brought in from another district for political expediency, and they must be of good standing in society, open minded and willing to listen to people’s views.

“Most Selangorians want GE15 winning political parties to be in favour of having independent councillors appointed without political affiliations to serve in local governments.

“I want to see residents’ association members or retired teachers appointed to local councils, as many feel that it is high time local communities are better represented.

“In doing so we will see corruption at the third tier curbed.”

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