In studying political science, I have read various writings on ideologies, governance, leaders, and of course, politics since the era of Plato and Aristotle. Comparing to the politics of the yester-years with the politics of today, there is a contrast of how politics were and how politics are today.
For the past one decade when I have begun to build my interest in politics and governance, there is a conclusion that I can make; which is that politics of today is so much focused on negative campaigning or even lies. That happens in a lot of nations in the world including Malaysia.
The past two weeks of campaign in the Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar by-elections is probably a good example of negative campaigning which is going on.
In the recently Sarawak state elections also, we have seen certain political parties using fake or photoshopped photos to make claims on how the Government was not helping the people particularly in the rural areas of Sarawak.
There are also certain politicians who have resorted in spreading half-truths and lies to defame their opposition. Fake documents, photos and images were made to confuse the people.
Inciting hatred in speeches and articles is also made common by irresponsible politicians. Normal citizens, who are all humans, have emotions. And with emotions, many of us are influenced by political gimmicks, maneuvers and techniques. Without a doubt, all of us are followers to political leaders whether directly or indirectly. However, some people do not know how to analyse between a good or a bad political leader. These happens due to lack of knowledge on certain aspects; or we are too busy working hard to earn for our family that we have little time to spend to learn more about current issues. From there, many politicians take advantage to manipulate our minds by inciting hatred and confusion.
All these strategies of irresponsible politicians were made even easier with the advancement of technology and social media.
And these negative attacks has already affected down towards to the people. For example, there are people who made insensitive remarks on the tragic death of the son-in-law of the Deputy Prime Minister or those who wished for the Prime Minister to be the victim of a helicopter crash.
Probably, today’s politics is also too tribal with confrontational style. Politicians must stop fighting each other for the sake of politicking and “get on with the job”.
As I have said that there is a contrast between the politics of yesterday and today; the new era has also marked the death of “political ideologies”.
According to the Oxford dictionary, ideology is a system of ideas and ideals, especially one which forms the basis of economic or political theory and policy.
The “death” of political ideology does not mean that it is has disappeared totally. Political ideologies still exists; our national policies are still guided by a set of ideology. But the set of ideologies are only normally fixed by the political elites, from the top; and not from the bottom-up, by the people.
Again, comparing with the politics of the previous eras, the people of today are not as passionate in politics or civic participation compared to the people of yesterday. Hence, it is easier for the group of political elites to make their ideas of public policies a reality.
Political and the nation’s struggles no longer stems from the roots of the nations, which are the people.
It is rather difficult to blame the general public on the lack of interest in politics though. The poors are too busy struggling to put food on their tables. The middle-class work from day to night to sustain their family in not making themselves poor. They were too busy earning a living in an environment where income gap becomes bigger and bigger.
This is what is happening in our nation, Malaysia. To change the nation, I believe we will need to look for a political alternative. We will need a political revolution. A revolution of our political mindset towards ideologies. And it should begin from the passion of the people, from the bottom-up; not from the top to bottom.
This article has been published in Mandarin in Kwong Wah Yit Poh dated 17th June 2016.