THE Prime Minister’s advice against hate politics should be welcomed by all right-thinking Malaysians. The advice is also very timely as it is only a few months before the 14th general election.
I believe Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak offered this advice to politicians across the divide. 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 any double standards conceived or implemented in the administration of justice for all Malaysians regardless of race, religion, economic, social or geographic disposition.
The PM’s advice should be included by the voters in their criteria for voting during GE14 along with the following important considerations.
1. The PM’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 should be rejected at the ballot box. The media has highlighted these anti-unity statements and elements and those involved 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.
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 would be irresponsible of voters to support these candidates at the polls, and this can be construed as contributing to and condoning racism ourselves. Thus, we have to be very vigilant and keep our votes away even from perceived racists.
5. Only candidates who have shown a record of solid service to improve the welfare of ALL Malaysians should be chosen. 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 the world over 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, observed as state capture and money politics, serves the interests of the higher and exclusive levels of society and not the rakyat in general, including the middle income groups.
7. Election manifestos of all political parties and individual candidates and their past performances will have to be carefully scrutinised before voting. Unless these candidates are properly vetted and carefully chosen, they can be a danger to our individual welfare and national progress once they are appointed into positions of power.
8. Inflation and the cost of living have been steadily rising while the standard of living has been falling, especially for the lower income groups. Transformation of the country and the economy should therefore be more structural rather than marginal.
For instance, while abolishing highway tolls and providing 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. Election manifestos must clearly outline what we will do to raise efficiency and competitiveness, reduce crime, stem the severe brain drain, increase wages and incomes and improve the quality of education, and to adjust effectively to meet the challenges of the Digital Economy.
Finally, we have to choose our political leaders wisely and diligently or pay a high price in terms of failure. The wrong choice of candidates and any manipulation of the electoral system can cause immense loss of Malaysian public as well as international confidence.
This is why it is regretted that about four million Malaysians have still not registered to vote. This is a shame.
We have to exercise our rights and responsibilities or blame ourselves if we have bad governance in the future.
The PM’s advice against hate politics should apply to all election candidates for our beloved country and people to progress further! We all deserve a better deal for the future.
TAN SRI RAMON NAVARATNAM
Asli Center of Public Policy