Madness and frenzy of impending state elections

There is a kind of frenzy, or even madness, as the six state elections draw near.

It has caused some of those involved to take leave of their senses, rationality, moral uprightness, and even ‘bend’ their religious principles in their effort to win the elections.

It is now open season for slander, character assassination, bigotry, and a general sense of nincompoop-ness. To these politicians, the end justifies the means.

There are also supposedly religious politicians who have abandoned the Islamic principles of respecting others, refraining from slandering, and of not lying.

The frenzy and madness are the result of the intense political tussle between Pakatan Harapan (PH) and Perikatan Nasional (PN).

The former has positioned itself as a coalition that embraces moderation and inclusivity, emphasising multiculturalism and religious tolerance, while the latter has, for the longest time, portrayed itself as an exclusively Malay-centric coalition, incorporating religion and race as its campaign strategy.

This Malay-centric stance is further exacerbated by the Malay Proclamation Agenda pushed by former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, which declared the exclusivity of the ‘Tanah Melayu’, and reduced the non-Malays to second-class citizens. It further proclaimed that it was unconstitutional to declare Malaysia as a multicultural country,  for it is exclusive to the definitive indigenous Malays.

Dr Mahathir had also courted controversy when he said that the monarchs were unable to defend the interests of the Malays.

Further aggravating the situation, Pas politicians caused a furore by undermining the credibility of the Sultan of Selangor, by calling into question his majesty’s judgment in the appointment of the Selangor menteri besar.

The incumbent government is no angel, either. Every incumbent administration takes advantage of its incumbency to give handouts and announce projects during the campaign period to influence voters. It happened in the previous administrations, and it is happening now.

Recently, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi announced aid to various clubs in Terengganu. While not illegal, it is certainly an unethical move to entice voters. Another unethical element is to use government assets for campaigning, in the guise of official visits and officiating functions. This practice should be stopped by state governments on both sides of the divide, and politicians must differentiate between government duties and party activities.

Often times, this does not happen as the incumbents combine these disparate functions as part of their respective government administrative duties.

Another issue is sabotage. Disgruntled politicians from both sides of the divide will go against party regulations and stand as independents when they are not selected by their respective parties as election candidates.

One wonders if their eagerness to be elected is to truly serve the people, or to enjoy the various perks, status, stations, and other benefits, that come along with it.

It is a fact that numerous politicians from various political parties are scrambling to ‘serve the people’ to bring about a positive change in their lives. However, from the experience of previous elections, there has not been improvement in the livelihoods of the people, a majority of whom are stuck in the status quo of the low, and lower middle-income trap, while many more are languishing in poverty.

But what is starkly discernible is the affluence of the elected representatives and their cohorts, most likely at the expense of the people.

In the midst of this frenzy and madness that has engulfed politicians during this campaign period, etiquette, decorum, and Islamic principles are abandoned, as they become intoxicated by the hubris and arrogance. A case in point is the way Pas  leaders allegedly snubbed Gerakan chief, Datuk Dominic Lau, who is contesting in Bayan Lepas, Penang, during a PN gathering.

The outcome of the state elections will give us some indication of the maturity and mentality of the voters. In general, Malaysian voters vote along ethnic lines, as well as religious sentiments, and this is especially true among the Malays.

For the Malay voters, there is the added enticement of exclusivity and entitlement. Rural voters have been primed to unquestioningly accept these prejudices that have been nurtured since Merdeka.

But there is a segment of the Malay electorate who are discerning, and not easily enticed by sentiments. They look out for inclusivity, harmonious co-existence, and economic prosperity.

Let us hope that reason and critical acumen will prevail in these six state elections to pick the right candidates who are the most qualified, and who will engender harmony and prosperity for all.

It is time politicians focused on the needs of the masses, rather than those within the party enclave.

The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the writer and do not necessarily represent that of Twentytwo13.

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