We must vote in the larger context of what is best for the nation in the long run.
The days of race politics – while it is a reality – are a distraction. This is not a critical issue for the younger population – for nature is going to challenge all of us, and unless we are ready, the impact will be serious, whatever our ethnicity or religion.
We need to use the strength of our diversity to get the best from all the people of Malaysia. In the age of globalisation and in the post-Covid era, we are all affected by climate change, environmental degradation, pollution, floods and fires.
Antiquated identity issues are played up by politicians who do not have a progressive agenda for the future.
Climate change and environmental degradation affect everyone, irrespective of ethnicity and religion. Look at what is happening in Pakistan, which is facing the brunt of climate change, while their fractured political climate is not serving the interest of people’s interest.
Consider Sri Lanka, where ethnic issues led to a protracted war. Today, this bankrupted nation is hoping to get a loan from the International Monetary Fund to stabilise its economy. If we in Malaysia go down the path of identity politics, we too will at some point have to face similar tragedies.
We share with both Pakistan and Sri Lanka high levels of political corruption. With deforestation, floods and similar crises facing us, we need politicians who plan early and develop strategies aimed at mitigating these impending challenges. Many of our political dinosaurs do not have this capacity.
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It requires a new brand of politicians who care and are equipped and educated to meet these challenges. With inflation, price increases and interest rate hikes, which further inflate mortgage rates, the people will suffer. We need sensitive politicians who feel and understand the plight of the people.
Our new young voters, over a million of them, will now be able to vote in the upcoming general election. They will need to be clear about their aspirations for the future.
Contribute to those parties who present younger candidates and who are technocrats. Political parties that champion race, religion and royalty have demeaned each of these by their commitment to corruption.
The image of the nation has been scandalised as never before. To cast a vote for parties that have sullied the reputation of the nation would be a sacrilege.
We must move away from mediocrity. A competent person can motivate a mediocre individual, but a mediocre person just fears, reacts and feels threatened.
Najib Razak is not today’s phenomenon. He joined politics when his late father passed away in 1976. So he has over four decades in Parliament. For a major portion of this time, he was under the tutelage of Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his cronies.
Najib witnessed how serious corruption issues in Sarawak were tolerated for decades. He also witnessed many scandals during the Mahathir era.
So, the scion of the Razak family became conditioned to this reality and lost his sense of balance. He never stood up when it mattered. There were no checks and balances, so he moved as he wished.
The cabinet and the Barisan Nasional coalition condoned his behaviour. This was the culture within the coalition. The MCA and the MIC were satisfied with the crumbs.
Collectively, many of the elite from all sections of the coalition ‘raped’ the nation. They indulged in the gravy train and looked after their own selfish interests. Many ministers grew wealthy; some took additional wives. The combination of money and power intoxicated them.
Najib and his wife Rosmah Mansor, along with his deputy Zahid Hamidi, took the rap. But they are the creation of many who condoned – both by their silence and participation – what has become a serious blight on the nation’s international image.
Many political dinosaurs are still standing for elections after being in Parliament for over three to four decades. Some are self-righteous, but many are guilty of defaming the nation by their silence at the party and cabinet levels.
Corruption has become systemic, and it will create serious issues in the future.
The ballots cast by young voters are important. A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.
Your vote makes a difference to the total. It is important that you think, reflect and choose the right candidate and party so that you can realise your aspirations for the future. Voting is your duty and obligation, and to do so irrespective of the result is your right and responsibility.
Co-editor, Aliran newsletter