Addiction to power is why politicians ignore real issues affecting the people, says analyst

A political analyst said Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia deputy president, Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu, is correct in asking politicians in Malaysia to focus on bread-and-butter issues instead of talking about a possible change in the federal government.

However, Associate Professor Dr Azeem Fazwan Ahmad Farouk acknowledged that political narratives will continue to hog the spotlight, even more so as Penang, Kedah, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Terengganu, and Kelantan, brace for polls.

“All this talk about changing the government through SDs (statutory declarations) must stop, as it is unproductive. However, politicians will continue to harp on it, as it is part and parcel of their daily activities,” said Azeem, director of Universiti Sains Malaysia’s Centre for Policy Research and International Studies.

“These politicians are addicted to power. As a result, all they care about is doing what they can to be in power. But in so doing, they are neglecting their duties as MPs.”

Azeem was responding to Ahmad Faizal, who yesterday said, there was just too much political talk in the country, at the expense of the people’s wellbeing.

“What is the core duty of an MP? It is to represent the interest of their constituents. MPs should look at what is happening in their constituencies and find ways to bring about development, and raise the standard of living,” added Azeem.

He added that most politicians were too busy engaging in “power politics”, in attempting to get SDs to change the government.

“We will be hearing more of such talks, even after the state elections, depending on the results,” Azeem further concluded.

“If Perikatan Nasional can make inroads in Selangor and Negeri Sembilan and win a few more seats in Penang, talk of a change in government will certainly intensify. How Umno performs will also make a difference. Malaysians must ask their MPs to focus on their duties.”

Azeem said the problem stems from not having a “strong government”, as no one party has the absolute majority. The current set-up in Putrajaya consists of like-minded parties forming a grand coalition under the guise of a “unity government”.

“From independence until 2008, we had strong governments with two-thirds majority. They were not easy to topple,” explained Azeem.

“Now, Pakatan Harapan only has 81 of the 222 parliamentary seats, while PN has 74. So, there will be those who will try to wrest power, particularly after what happened in 2020.”

After winning the 2018 elections, Pakatan Harapan’s reign in Putrajaya ended after only 22 months when Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad resigned as prime minister.

To avoid another ‘Sheraton Move’, Azeem said the government must strengthen the country’s institutions, the court system, bureaucracies, and corporations, as they would still be around, long after the politicians have left.

“We must pay attention to good governance, as then, no matter which party is in power, the country will continue to chug along,” said Azeem.

“The reason why there are so many corruption cases is because we did not have good governance in place. We must change the culture in the public and private sectors.”

He said that it would take the current government a long time to change the deeply entrenched mindset and habits, adding that many external factors contributed to the slow economic recovery.

Azeem pointed to the war in Ukraine, tensions in the South China Sea, and the banking crisis in the United States of America as factors that will impact Malaysia economically.

“We need to see what is happening globally. There is a geopolitical shift with how countries are aligning themselves,” said Azeem.

“There are many issues, not just the economy. We need to look at foreign policy, too. As much as many may hate Dr Mahathir, he was a ‘spokesman’ for Third World countries, with high standing among the Islamic world, Japan, and other parts of the globe.

“Sadly, Malaysia’s reputation was tarnished by the 1MDB scandal.”

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