By Salahuddin bin Hisham
POLITICS is about governance. The Oxford online dictionary has described governance as “the action or manner of governing a state, organisation, etc.”
It is not the first time and certainly not the first election to happen but as the general election draws near, the political campaigning is no longer on issues of governance.
It has reached to the level that it is detrimental to national interest, particularly the economy, with unsubstantiated claims such as the government bankrupt. There is hardly any indication towards that direction.
In fact, if subsidy level were to remain at 2009 level and public finance turned problematic today, it is still far from a default, let alone bankrupt. Sovereign nations do not bankrupt like individuals and companies.
Such reckless claims could result in loss of confidence, investment put on hold and deter foreign investors. In extreme situations, it could cause ringgit to turn volatile, stock market crash and run on the bank. The perception would be self-fulling.
As such, the business community through its respectable leaders should voice their concern on the current state of politics and warn politicians to take account of their actions of the economic implication and not compromise the interest of the nation.
If need be, without mentioning their partisan preference, business leaders should call on the public to shun politicians playing negative politics of preying on naïve voters with their fear factor.
Fear factor is seldom used by politicians to scare the public from voting the incumbent.
Voters need to be educated that such actions are morally irresponsible and lacking in patriotism. Statements and in some instances, actions detrimental to national interest should be frowned upon and made to cost them politically.
Such dirty tricks run contrary to the noble intention of a democratic system and the political process.
Political campaign should be a discussion on the current state of the nation, where it should be heading for, what is needed to progress forward, and who best to lead the task.
Instead, it is more of character assassinations, trumped-up corruption accusations, and personal slander. To some extent, it is turning out to be a slugfest of personal vendetta to settle old scores than a gentlemen fair play duel.
Noticeably, the issues raised tend to lack substance, and shallow. They lean more towards sensationalism concocted from speculation and conspiracies than facts and substance.
Rampant political spinning deviate campaigns from a genuine discussion on governance. It has reached an unprecedented level of campaigners deceitfully manipulating facts, intentionally misinterpreting economic statistics, creating fake data, and outright lying.
There seems to be no shame on the part of politicians caught with their pants down to fabricate stories that run contrary to past statements, reported news and official records.
Without any sense of responsibility to own up and clarify, a politician up north attempted a conspiracy theory using news leak. If it turned out true, news leak is just water under the bridge!
Conspiracy theories attract more public attention than the interest for truth. A recent political analysis by a regional news political, Asia Times concluded with the remark:
“Conspiratorial thinking is a Malaysian pastime, not least because Malaysian politics is so often conducted conspiratorially, particularly in an election season. That’s in part because it’s the same old faces – Najib, Mahathir and Anwar included – still grasping for power, often by hook, crook or whatever means possible.”
The past culture of power for power sake is something the country can do without.
As the general election draws near, conspiracy theories are sprouting like mushrooms after a shower.
One going around is of a coup d’état to topple the Prime Minister from within the ruling party and government before the polling date. There is the twist that the Prime Minister will be charge for the vogue issue of the day, 1MDB.
Isn’t it suicidal and not to the best interest of the conspirators to lose the general election?
That conspiracy theory seems to link to another conspiracy theory called the game changer. Ruling party candidates for MPs and state assemblymen will do a mad rush to join a newly-established smallish political party.
Presumably, the deceitful game could seize power to rule a state and if there was sufficient number, it could take over the federal government. However, the two conspiracies need to convince existing position holders to take a big gamble on their political career.
More so, recent surveys by left leaning NGOs predicted an astounding Barisan Nasional win. Off course, they would claim it is to give a false sense of confidence.
If that is not exciting enough, there is this a conspiracy theory on who is really the proposed opposition’s candidate for Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister.
The recently announced duo is not convincing to political pundits. The interim Prime Minister could end up as permanent. While, his deputy is the interim for an eventually intended candidate. Quite sure the speculation does not end there.
While conspiracy theory makes interesting reading, it violently deviate voters’ attention from the real affair of the nation. Voters end up deceived into making a wrong decision based on emotion and sentiment.
Campaign message and voters’ decision-making should be based on considerations for sound and pragmatic policies, realistic expectations, challenges besieging the nation, and leadership with the drive and vision.
In bringing us forward, the government should have the interest of its diverse citizenry -especially the common folk, poor and rural, and downtrodden – at heart.
At the same time, Malaysia needs to expand its horizon. National leadership cannot be stuck in old thinking and a cocooned mind set.
It needs leaders with a global outlook and diplomatic ability to make more friends beyond our shores to bring in investments, technological innovation, open business and trade opportunities, and to ensure peace and harmony.
Lest we forget, Malaysia is where it is today because of its long running peace and stability. Let’s not allow power hungry, greedy and irresponsible politicians to ruin it.