Thursday, April 16, 2009

How Do You Evaluate a Minister/Wakil Rakyat/Politician?

Everyone's talking about the PKI that NTR will use to evaluate the performance of his Cabinet members.But no one seems willing to spell out some of the basis of evaluation. NTR says that Khazanah Nasional and ICU will develop and implement the task with
TSK as the Minister in-charge.

Wouldn't the public want to say something about how Minister's should be evaluated? Many critics are so vociferous in condemning Ministers and Wakil Rakyat. But the basis of their evaluation can be so flimsy, emotional and subjective. This is the time when they can state categorically what they expect from the Ministers and Wakil Rakyat. What do you want of them? Ca you measure those results that you want from their work? No point in saying that we want them to be effective. To do what? If they turn down your request because if affects the rights of others, are they effective?

Evaluation must relate to the goals expected to be achieved.Expectations can run into thousand but political scientists grouped them under four brought categories viz. (i) interest articulation or putting forward the interest s of the people they represent (2) interest integration or moulding the interests of various groups into an acceptable whole (3)policy formulation, and
(4) policy implementation.

This is basic knowledge but must be stressed to enable a more objective evaluation covering all the areas of a politician's work, not just how popular he is with the crowd, how loyal to the boss, how much money he can bring to the party, how many friends he can enrich (including himself) etc.

Interest Articulation can include: capability in identifying and voicing the problems of his/her constituency, identifying causes of problems that make people unhappy, pacifying them, avoiding protest movements, difusing conflicts and potential conflicts
especiall among racial groups etc. It should not be based on making public statements in the papers, playing up to the gallery, and self agrandization.

Interest Aggregation is the real mark of a stateman. It's the ability to integrate conflicting interests and make the solution acceptable to everyone, recognize everyones interest and find a way to satisfy as many if not all, represent all interests fairly without fear or favour, dicuss issues, horse-trade, do everything possible to pacify pressing demands wothout favouring some and marginalizing others, find solutions to tight problems and dissipate sizzling issues etc.

Policy Formulation includes all contributions towards shaping up a new policy or identifying the weakness of existing ones and suggesting improvements, removing the thorns that hurt many people, making the policy more palatable and acceptable by the people, getting their suppport for it, including explaining and making people appreciate its short and long term benefits.

Policy Implementation of course involves getting things done. It's not enough to just explain a policy. Find ways on how to get peolple involved in implementing it, roping in as wide a particvipation as possible, getting them involved and not just become a spectator, giving everyone a piece of the action to make him/her feel that he/she is not left out, ensuring that everyones's participationand contribution is recognized. It should not be based on the ability to give away money, either in terms of funding or bribes.

Any form of political evaluation should take into account these factors. If the PKI is to be based on just what the boss likes and what he doesn't, or on emotions, broad and unmeasureable political interests such as bringing back the good image of UMNO,
regaining peole's confidence, or making Barisan/UMNO win the election ( no one leader can do it), then many effective leaders may be lost and the 'pretenders' or ' bottom-fanners' put in charge of important national matters.

Perhaps all the political scientists in the local universities should be consulted in drawing up a valid and raliable list of Key Performance Indices while the public be given a chance to say what they expect of their Ministers and Wakil Rakyat.

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