Elections, whether at state or national levels, usually provoke a kind of psychological frenzy among politicians who experience a behavioral transformation that is not characteristic of their normal selves.
The normally reclusive politicians, who are usually confined to their golf courses, five-star lobbies, or exclusive restaurants to pursue their personal agenda, suddenly become gregarious, humble, congenial, and maudlin, empathising with the plight of the socially and economically distraught masses, discarding their usual haughty, impudent self-importance and condescending behaviour, for the duration of the campaign period.
Likewise, their bosses too, undergo a similar transformation, but these big guns from the various political parties still descend on the masses like potentates with their retinue of bodyguards, escorts, sycophants, and other menials to meet, and touch base with the people.
They hug children, pat the backs of farmers and petty traders, offer gifts to the households living in dilapidated huts, eat the common man’s breakfast at the B40 stalls, and for all intents and purposes, are men of God who care for nothing else but to help the poor and the destitute.
But their body language betray these histrionic efforts.
They crisscross state lines and the country, wooing voters with promises contained in their election manifestoes, which emphasise stability, unity, harmony, and prosperity for the people.
They include action plans to benefit the people socially and economically. One political party had also promised a one-off payment of RM200 for religious teachers and children born in 2021 in Melaka if it won the state election.
One wonders if this could be construed as blatant vote-buying that contravenes the election rules on money politics.
We all know that these political parties have purveyed the same pledges in every other election. If at all they materialise, they usually benefit those in power and those with political connections and hereditary lineages. Those that are implemented for the people are usually the watered-down versions of the original promises.
They even promise an administration of good governance based on integrity and accountability.
But it is common knowledge that integrity and honesty in government had been an elusive construct for so long, evidenced by the rampant corruption, malfeasance, and abuse of power in the country’s administration, not to mention the greatest heist ever perpetrated in this century.
Yet they scream for good governance from their bully pulpit.
All political parties pledge to foster unity and harmonious existence in an equitable society in which all and sundry, irrespective of race, colour, creed and religion, are given equal opportunities.
But this manifesto does not reflect the reality on the ground. In fact, political parties themselves have been stoking the flames of disunity.
For example, Pas is only concerned with Malay-Muslim cooperation and unity, sidelining the other races. It once regarded DAP members as kafir harbi.
Umno has so long been blaming the DAP for the problems and chaos they created, often speaking in forked tongues – one for the consumption of the Malays, and the other, for the Barisan non-Malays.
As a result, there is a deep chasm of distrust among the races, courtesy of the racial, and religious-based political parties.
This is compounded by the fact that our education system segregates the races with the existence of national, and vernacular schools.
To foster unity, there must be a systemic change in our political and educational setup.
Once they are elected, politicians and their political parties would be too engrossed with consolidating their positions and power, to bother fulfilling the promises in their manifestoes. The same manifesto would likely be resurrected and bandied again in the next election.
This is happening in Melaka.
These political pledges are actually subservient to the real agenda of gaining and perpetuating power to become the dominant party to rule the state, with their man as chief minister.
But for the duration of the campaign, their mantra is “to serve the people”. This has become the favourite catchphrase for politicians contesting in the Melaka state election.
The people must take these pledges with a pinch of salt as they are there, merely to entice the voters.
Hopefully, voters will be able to see the pledges for what they truly are – a ruse by self-serving individuals who use the mantra “to help the people” as a crutch to further their agenda.
This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Twentytwo13.