An open letter to my honourable future wakil rakyat

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Photograph: Wikimedia Commons

When carrying out your duties in the future or when having to make tough decisions, ask yourself, what is the honourable thing to do for the people and not for me or my political party, writes Adrian Lee.

Dear Future Honourable Wakil Rakyat,

Soon you will be nominating yourself for the contest to decide who will be the member of Parliament or state assembly representative for my area. On polling day, you might be elected to become a representative of the people, a Yang Berhormat or to put it simply, “The Honourable” one.

To be honourable doesn’t mean expecting honours or to be honoured or be bestowed with honorific titles preceding your name. It is not a guarantee of privileges only bestowed upon a select few. No, do not expect kompangs, or trumpets to be beaten or sounded in your honour.

Having the title honourable would entitle you to certain benefits. You would do the honourable thing of being able to serve every single member of the Malaysian nation in which you have sworn to serve. And these include those who didn’t vote for you or whose political standings disagree with yours. Surely, you would be able to honorably carry out these duties without any shred of prejudice?

Being honourable also means being principled, having a great sense of morality and being trustworthy. Surely, I won’t be hearing any racist or sexist remarks from you or worse, any attempt to blame the press for misquoting you. I wouldn’t want to hear of you being embroiled in any scandal, be it sexual, political or corruption.

Would I be voting an honest, principled and honourable individual into office?

I wouldn’t want to remind or re-educate you about the many scandals with all sorts of acronyms currently being discussed in the media, whether print, electronic or social. I do not need to discuss how Malaysia is currently troubled, socio-culturally and politically. Being honourable, surely you are keeping abreast of and are fully aware and informed of all that is happening around, you right? And be you would be thinking of how to resolve them.

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I would also like to know how you would honourably defend the voiceless, the oppressed and the marginalised. These are also members of your constituency, – or would you start forgetting about their existence?

That said, would you be able to be honourable and look beyond race, religion, status and creed when making important decisions?

When it really matters, would you be able to be impartial and go against the importance of your political party? Would you be honourable enough to stand up against corruption, crime and the skyrocketing cost of living – for you know that such problems do indeed affect the normal everyday rakyat?

It is, after all, your responsibility to ensure that as part of the democratic process, you are to play your part, no matter how small, to ensure that the system works properly. Being an honourable one, would you be someone who is capable of standing up for us in helping to formulate policies and laws and to honourably defend the Constitution? Would you be conscionable enough to see that laws should be drafted to liberate the citizenry and not to chain them?

Short of asking you to make Malaysia a utopia, we do know that you will have your shortcomings. But we do need to feel safe, to be comfortable on the roads, and to have more value for our ringgit. We hope you will work towards making Malaysia a better place.

But let’s just start with the constituency you are going to serve and be present in Parliament or the state assembly first, shall we?

There should be less talk of Malaysians feeling disillusioned or fed up and wanting to migrate or seek greener pastures abroad.

Our children, the future of Malaysia, should be given a world-class education and a better place to call home. They should be dreaming of how they would like to contribute to Malaysia instead of harbouring dreams of working overseas.

I would like to know how you plan to help make Malaysia a better place for us. Care to share?

You should be willing to get your hands dirty – not through corruption or cronyism, but in the most literal sense of “turun padang”, getting your hands, silk suits, expensive watches and leather shoes sullied when helping out in times of disaster. Do not descend from the sky in a helicopter or in your luxury vehicle in times of crises. I should be able to count on you being present, to be honourably standing by me in times of trouble right?

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We have often heard anecdotes of how some politicians only appear once every five years for baby-kissing and cangkul-holding photo opportunities. Surely, you would be honourable enough to provide me with some time in your busy schedule to hear my problems and be there when I need you. Or at least, give me a genuine smile and honestly shake my hand when you do meet me.

I do not ask for a share of your salary or allowances that you would be earning, drawn from the income tax and various other taxes that I have paid. Rather, I would ask that you earn your salary and allowances by carrying out your basic duties: championing the needs of the people, being present in Parliament or in the state assemblies – and not go MIA when needed. Would you agree that this would be the honourable and honest way of earning your income?

At the end of the day, I’m not asking to be turned into an instant multi-millionaire, driving luxury cars and living in mansions. Neither do I need to be given police escorts or bodyguards or be treated like royalty or turn up late for events. Surely, you too would be honourable enough to decline such privileges and instead practise leadership by example, practising what you preach, wouldn’t you?

Let’s get stuck in traffic jams together, pay for luxuries using our own money and respect everyone else as equals. Surely you’ve heard of politicians in other countries who live not like royalty but like everyone else, taking economy class flights?.

After all, being a representative of the people doesn’t give you a status that is above and beyond everyone else. There are no different standards or status for you. Being my representative doesn’t give you immortality; nor does it mean that I need to worship the ground on which you walk. Instead, would you be honourable enough to regard everyone else as Very Important Persons?

My vote for you is conditional on you working for the rakyat and me. Remember, you are given a five-year mandate to carry out such honourable deeds. Five years may seem to be a long or short time, depending on how much you plan to actually achieve for me and my fellow constituents. Would you be able to honourably carry out such simple tasks and responsibilities – in short, to be an honourable representative of the people, capable of serving us all?

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Remember that I will be voting you into office to carry out your responsibilities, to work for the people and not to exert power and authority over us. No, my act of voting for you isn’t about giving you power but about holding you responsible for taking care of the people and their needs. After all, we have learned that any form of power absolutely corrupts, doesn’t it?

I hope that you have spent at least five minutes of your time reading this letter and understanding its contents, especially penned for you. If you have not – and the excuse given is that you are too busy and don’t have the time – then perhaps an honourable career in serving the rakyat isn’t really suited for you. Should I be voting for someone who can’t even spare me five minutes?

If you have, I certainly look forward to hearing, seeing and experiencing your honorary deeds being spoken about not as publicity gimmicks, empty promises or political rhetoric in the media. Surely you must know by now that the rakyat are savvy and intelligent, not to be looked down on or mocked upon.

So what I hope from you is that you be there to stand up for me and other ordinary Malaysians – to make sure that we are recognised and counted for when needed. Most importantly, would you be up to the task when trouble or problems arise in Malaysia?

It would be a greater honour if the ordinary rakyat would be able to honour the actual contributions that you have promised to carry out. When carrying out your duties in the future or when having to make tough decisions, ask yourself, what is the honourable thing to do for the people and not for me or my political party.

Thank you and I sincerely wish you the best in the upcoming elections and in carrying out your honourable duties as my representative.

Yours truly
A Malaysian Voter

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