Malaysians will go to the polls on 19 November in a critical general election with many important issues at stake.
Before Parliament was dissolved, I had thought carefully about which party I was going to vote for, as I considered my vote to be sacrosanct. In fact, I had always asked for divine guidance.
The fundamental guideline to observe is to vote according to your moral conscience and not along party lines.
Reject all defectors
Examine your conscience before you cast your vote. Without hesitation, reject all the turncoats who brought down the democratically elected Pakatan Harapan government on 20 February 2022. Ensure that the upcoming general election will be their Waterloo.
Study the manifestos of the political parties to find out which of them is most in harmony with your views.
Consider their views on the following issues.
Check with the parties contesting whether they support a change in the electoral system to proportional representation.
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The current first-past-the-post system does not reflect the aspirations of the people. It has to be changed to a more democratic proportional representation system.
The redrawing of electoral boundaries has often been taken as opportunities for gerrymandering and malapportionment of constituencies. This is undemocratic.
In contrast, under a proportional representation system, the people’s voices stand a better chance of being heard and respected.
Quality of life
Check which party’s policies will reduce the rising cost of living that burdens the working and middle classes. The weakening ringgit has added to the people’s burden, as we will need to pay more for imported items.
Check which of the parties will most effectively improve the education system. Education should be free for the people right up to tertiary level.
Check which party’s policies will slash unemployment. Find out how the various parties will tackle unemployment among school leavers and graduates. Thousands of graduates are now unemployed and many have resorted to working for ride-hailing, food and parcel delivery companies.
Lack of affordable housing
Check which party’s measures will resolve the lack of genuinely affordable homes. The prices of houses and apartments in many parts of the country have soared beyond the reach of the middle and working classes.
It is rare to come across new affordable housing areas being developed in Kuala Lumpur.
Every time I drive to any part of KL, I see a plethora of condominiums and high-rise buildings. These condominiums and high-end apartments are usually priced beyond the reach of most people.
We must put an immediate stop to the construction of high-rise buildings, as we already have too many in KL.
Polarisation and bigotry
Check which parties will actively stem worsening ethnic polarisation and religious bigotry.
The previous government did not appear to be doing anything concrete to tackle this phenomenon, which threatens the very fabric of our society.
One particular party regularly entrenches the divide between our various ethnic groups and religions by spewing venom.
Food security and climate change
Two critical issues which should be the focus of government attention are climate change and weak food security. Check which party’s policies will tackle these issues.
The nation’s dependence on food imports has risen over the years. Last year the food import bill stood at RM63bn, up from RM55.4bn in 2020 and RM51.4 billion the year before. With the weakening ringgit, food prices are rising even more. How can low-income groups cope with more expensive food?
The previous government did little to develop the food ecosystem along the value chain. It should have incorporated R&D, integrated farming, manufacturing, the development of food cooperatives, logistics, and marketing and distribution in the food sector.
Neither did the government do much to curb climate change. Can’t we follow Singapore by planting at least one million trees by 2030? What specific steps are being undertaken to reduce our carbon footprint?
Corruption and wastage
Check which party’s policies and measures will most effectively curb corruption.
The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission should be strengthened to combat graft, which is getting more sophisticated. The commission must be made completely independent, reporting only to Parliament.
Emir Research recently suggested that Malaysia lost almost RM1tn over 25 years, mainly due to corrupt practices and leakages.
Millions of Malaysians could have benefited if this money had used for development projects to build more low-cost homes and bridges and to provide social amenities and scholarships for students from low-income families.
Check which parties will implement reforms in all major institutions, such as the Election Commission and the civil service, so that these institutions will remain independent of the government. These institutions should only report to the King and Parliament. Ask the candidates their views on these reforms.
Reforms are vital if Malaysia is to progress as a dynamic nation. Malaysia was once the only shining star in a troubled region. But that is history, as our neighbours have leapt forward, gaining more international recognition. They are now in the international limelight more often than we are.
The ideal platform to question the party’s candidate will be at ceramahs (rallies). A group of voters could prepare questions on various issues for the candidates speaking at these events. Based on the candidates’ responses, voters can then choose which candidate or party to vote for.