Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Politicians vs Statesmen
In his blog dated 29.9.09 Tun Dr Mahathir extolled the "open house" festivities as a Malaysian invention which could really bring the people together, irrespective or races. Seeing how Malaysians really mixed, exchanged greetings and well-wishes at such gatherings, he insinuated that it could be the politicians 'who stoke the fire of racialism' in this country and said (with a tongue in cheek surely), "It makes we wonder whether the country would not be better off if we don't have politicians." He went on to lament the "racial ghettoes" that Malaysians have created for themselves, suggesting that the different vernacular schools our children go to might have caused or exacerbated the process.
The reaction was fantastic. Everyone supports the view. But where does that take us? Have more open houses all the year through, perhaps financed or subsidized by the government? Let the open house festivities do what our education system has failed to do? Throw all the politicians into the sea? As it is they have the license to broach and exploit racial issues but an ordinary member of the public who does it will face the ISA.
Open houses can indeed show how Malaysians really live together and celebrate their religious festivities together. Except for the community leaders and the wealthy, invitees to the open houses are often limited to relatives, neighbors and friends The gatherings certainly cannot fulfill the functions that the education system should undertake. And it's only a one-day affair when satiating the taste buds becomes more important than discussing social or community affairs.
As for the politicians, at best they are the representatives of the people, articulating their interests, integrating them and presenting them to the government. We can't have every man (or woman)-in-the-street presenting his or her own interest to the government for there are too many people in the country. Hence the representational approach. What goes wrong is that politicians fight to become that representative wooing supporters to his (or her) camp or party and pitching their support against his (or her) enemies. In doing so he (or she) uses racial issues, communal issues, national issues or whatever, to raise the emotions of his (or her) supporters to a pitch.The politicians will do anything to get the commitment of his (or her) supporters, including paying them money or through other forms. That's when racial issues become a sure-fire bullet for catching the interest and gaining the support of the would-be voters.
I think it is such politicians who should be made to walk the planks or thrown into the sea. That include those who misuse their power of representation for personal benefits or gains or resort to buying votes. Where do they get all the money if not through some devious and surreptitious methods. Those who really represent the interest of their supporters, see how those interests can be integrated and coordinated with the interest of others in the nation, seek a harmonious and an equitable way of resolving conflicting interests, stop their supporters from mounting a "war" against the supporters of other would-be-representatives, and think of the interest of the nation more than just his (or her) supporters', are statesmen. We need them to represent our interests to the government.
The question now is how do we do away with the politicians and give our support to the statesmen ( or stateswomen, of course). The MCA seems to be approaching the problem in a very positive though aggressive way ie by doing away with leaders who create rather than solve problems. What about UMNO, MIC and other members of the BN? With all the talks about transformation, changing attitude and doing away with the corrupt and tinted characters, is it really being done? As for the PR, component members seem to be in the process of identifying their own statesmen versus the politicians. Let us see whether Malaysians are ready to make the distinction between politicians and statesmen , throw the latter out and usher in the leaders and representatives that have the statesmanship qualities and can give our country a new image.