By the end of the Johor election campaign period, local people would have seen candidates busily meeting their constituents in public places such as markets and coffee shops as well as them having ceramah or speeches to offer promises, some of which may not be fulfilled.
The candidates, who are hoping to become so-called representatives of the people, would have gone through the ritual of mingling with the ordinary people during the election campaign period, the Covid epidemic notwithstanding.
This was the time when politicians could not afford to be aloof or seen to be detached from the people they were supposed to represent.
There had to be no gap of any kind between the politicians and their constituents as if – if we must imagine – they were inseparable Siamese twins with similar hopes, needs and challenges.
Hence, many politicians would have vowed to listen intensely to the concerns and grievances of the local people – and promise to tackle such issues in their supposed endeavour to improve the people’s quality of life and the wellbeing of the nation.
The issues could range from job opportunities, wage security and housing to foreign investments in the state.
The temperature has predictably risen, given that there are 239 candidates ferociously vying for 56 seats in the state. They were obviously on the ground to woo the voters, particularly the young voters and the new ones.
In their attempts to make the people feel closer to and comfortable with politicians, certain politicians would have seen to it that they were perceived to be drenched in humility.
Such aberrations, however, become especially obvious after elections – an irony that would have been funny if it is not serious.
These are politicians who largely come from a cohort who have no qualms about treating ordinary Malaysians a level below them with disdain – in a social context where a two-tier system is being promoted, or, to borrow a phrase from the multi-talented P Ramlee, “dua darjat” (double standards).
Double standards are most noticeable in the implementation of the standard operating procedure in the wake of the epidemic.
Punishment meted out by the ruling politicians for violation of the procedure apparently varied according to one’s station in life – which defied an important principle of justice. Often, it is the poor and the marginalised who became victims of such unjust practices.
Incidentally, such politicians would rather not have their motorcade be “obstructed” by a screaming ambulance carrying ordinary mortals in need of urgent medical treatment. The patients were ordinary Malaysians, the kind of people whom such politicians would hail as friends and part of a larger Malaysian family when their votes mattered.
The sudden offering of banknotes and other goodies at the hustings should not be mistaken for a kind gesture from politicians who seemingly care for the needy and the poor. It was the kind of “political incentive” that could only be categorised as corruption.
It should be clear as day that corruption of any kind cannot be and should not be normalised and tolerated as part of our culture, as it is a ‘cancer’ that is destructive.
Politicians who are corrupt tend to eschew transparency and accountability – which does not help in any attempt to promote good governance and democracy. This should clearly be a concern to all.
Also, one should be wary of politicians who purportedly celebrate inclusiveness in our multi-ethnic society when their very political survival hinges on exploiting race and religion.
While there are politicians who are genuinely concerned about the welfare of the people, Johor voters should not drop their guard when it comes to dealing with political chameleons who are quick to whisper sweet things to the ear.
May the Johor people get the political representation they deserve. – The Malaysian Insight