The political will for the people or power?

When I started to learn about politics years back then, I was introduced with the local government elections which I didn’t know about then. The local elections were suspended decades ago. It caught my interest about it and I have tried to understand a lot about cities and towns. 

As a matter of fact, when the idea of bringing back local government elections was mooted, I am really interested in it. 

But It was unfortunate for those who were hoping and advocating for local government elections when the Minister of Housing and Local Government, Zuraida Kamaruddin said last week that the current government is not ready to implement it yet. Even some of the MPs from the ruling government mentioned that they are against local government elections. 

Earlier when the Parliament proceedings for this session began, the Minister was queried on her efforts in pushing for the local elections. But she hit it back at those who were questioning her. She did propose in the Cabinet meeting, but none of the Cabinet members backed her up when Tun Dr. Mahathir disagreed with it. DAP, PKR and Amanah were in the Cabinet during that time.

It pretty much means that what DAP and PKR claims that they have fought to implement the local elections is just lip service. It is just merely talks and no action. 

DAP, PKR and Amanah did not support the motion when they were the Government; while it is obvious that UMNO is not interested in local elections. Well, it doesn’t look like the mayors and councillors are going to be elected anytime soon.

Some ‘smart’ politicians gave reasons that local elections will create and incite racial issues, which is so ridiculous. Local government was never about religion and race. It is merely about city planning, administration, infrastructure and community wellbeing. I don’t see how this can incite religious and racial hatred unless the politicians are the culprit. 

If we were to look at some of the best cities in the world, almost all of the mayors and councillors are elected. A local government election will create a sense of competition among the contenders and make them take up the job more seriously. In fact, it will also generate more awareness towards the public about the difference between councillor, State Assemblyman and Member of Parliament. 

Besides that, many of our local policies were decided by the federal government, which I think is not fair for the locals. How can we use the same set of rules to govern every city that is so much different from each other. It is also difficult for people living far away from one city or town to understand what they truly need. 

In Malaysia, it is common that the public always refer local government issues to the State Assemblyman and Member of Parliament, because many of them are not aware of councillors or their roles. That is why, most of the time, a councillor seems to serve as a platform for a politician to prepare themselves to be a potential candidate in the next general election, rather than making our city and town a better place.

Looking at this episode of local government election issue, It is sad to see that many politicians in Malaysia do not have the political will to do what is right, but more of only taking actions to make sure that they survive in politics.

The current ongoing Parliament session has just proved it that it is all only about political survival when the MPs need to decide to change the Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat, the attendance was almost 100%; only one of them who is absent. But what happens during most of the time when they need to discuss the people’s issues, or worst, during one of the proceedings last week, only 24 out of 222 MPs were present, which made the meeting suspended as it does not have enough quorum. 

With only 24 of them present during that time, it means politicians from all sides, doesn’t matter from which political party were just not interested in the debate for the people’s issues. 

What about all those cries and loud voices during the general election campaign that shouts about protecting the people, caring for the people and serving the people? It is all just rhetorics. They were more interested in power and position. 

That is why we need to get rid of the political elites, and we need to get those ordinary, everyday people to be elected to the prestigious halls. That is why we need to look past the political logos, but the people who can really represent the people.

This article is published in Kwong Wah Yit Poh in Chinese dated 11 August 2020.