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PM's advice against hate politics should apply to all!

  • The PM's advice against hate politics should apply to all election candidates, including those from his own party.

By Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam

The Prime Minister's advice against hate politics is most welcome by all right thinking Malaysians.

The good advice is also very timely at this time being only a few months before the 14th general elections.

However, hate politics is not practiced by some opposition leaders alone, but by some politicians from the ruling party as well. Hence, the pertinent advice or warning should apply to them too.

I believe that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak did not mean to offer this good advice to only some opposition political leaders and not those from his own party.

Indeed, hate politics, racial and religious bigotry from any and all political quarters should, to be fair, be equally condemned with the same vehemence. There cannot and must not be double standards conceived or implemented in administration justice and righteousness for all Malaysians, regardless of race or religion or economic, social or geographic disposition.

The PM's advice should be included by the voters in their criteria for voting in GE14, together with other vital criteria.

What should the criteria for voting in GE14 be?

1. The PM's advice to reject hate politics must be followed by all. Thus, all election candidates who have a record of making hate statements that would undermine national unity, at any time, should be rejected at the ballot box.

The press has highlighted these anti-unity statements and elements, and they should be easily traced and punished at the polls.

2. Religious parties, leaders and practitioners who have condemned other religions or religious practices in the past should be identified and cast aside at the polls.

All those who have preached hatred and intolerance should similarly be isolated at the polls.

3. Corrupt candidates should definitely be castigated. How can we fight corruption if we vote for those known to be living beyond their means, especially those known to be corrupt. Perhaps, the MACC could help voters in this regard.

4. Racists who are known to have made racial remarks and slurs are well known. It will be irresponsible of voters to ignore the candidates' previous racist public statements and yet support them at the polls. Then we can be construed as contributing to and condoning with racism ourselves.

So, we have to be very vigilant and cast our votes against even perceived racists.

5. True Malaysian candidates who have shown a record of solid service to improve the welfare of all Malaysians and not only the elite or any particular racial and religious groups, should be rejected at the polls.

We must establish a new election culture whereby we will only vote for integrity and fairness, and for those who will improve the welfare and quality of life of all Malaysians, based on their basic needs and human rights, not on the basis of race and religion.

6. It would be useful to vote for candidates who fulfill the above criteria rather than for political parties per se.

Often, political parties all over the world can be hijacked by big businesses and other narrow political, racial and religious vested interests that look after the rich and the powerful.

This phenomenon is observed as state capture and money politics that will serve the interests of the higher and exclusive levels of the society and not the rakyat, right up to the middle income group.

7. The election manifestos of all parties and individual candidates and their past performances have to be carefully scrutinized before voting them in. Once they are elected into positions of power, they can be a danger to our individual welfare and national progress, unless these candidates are properly vetted and carefully elected.

8. Inflation and the cost of living have been steadily rising while the standards of living have been falling, especially for the lower income group. Transformation of the country and the economy should therefore be more structural than marginal.

While for instance abolishing road tolls and providing BRIM and other forms of aid to the farmers, fishermen and school children are necessary and welcome, the major causes of our socioeconomic and political structural weaknesses must be addressed more aggressively and promptly.

9. The election manifestos must clearly outline what we will do to raise efficiency and competitiveness, to reduce crime, to discourage severe brain drain, to raise wages and incomes and the quality of education, and to adapt to the challenges of digital economy.

10. Finally, we have to choose our leaders wisely or pay a hefty price for its failure. The wrong choices of candidates, and any manipulation of the electoral system will cause immense loss of confidence among the Malaysian public as well as foreigners, causing us to falter more and decline as a nation and as Malaysians.

This is why it is regretted that about four million Malaysians have still not registered to vote. This is a shame. We have to exercise our rights and responsibility or blame ourselves if we have more bad governance in the future.

The PM's advice against hate politics should apply to all forthcoming election candidates and also to bad governance, for the sake of our beloved country and people!

We all deserve a better deal for the future.

A blessed New Year to all!

(Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam is the Chairman of ASLI Center for Public Policy Studies.)



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