Elderly hatemongers who want to lead
Published on: Sunday, November 27, 2022
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People queing up to vote during the recent general election.
I DID my duty to my country through the ballot box on Saturday. However, as a senior citizen, I – like many of my fellow citizens, I’m sure – was appalled by the immaturity and viciousness of some political campaign speeches of the past weeks.

Instead of addressing rampant corruption in high office, financial leaks and disintegrating social protections, we heard hate-filled, divisive speeches, playing one Malaysian identity off against another. 

These speeches were delivered by folks with greying hair and grey beards – an age group you would expect to have some wisdom and some semblance of dignity. 

These candidates did a disservice to the people and the nation on two points.

First, many of these candidates were senior and seasoned politicians who have benefited from their time in public office. 

Their remunerations, perks, privileges and family comfort were made possible by Malaysian citizens who pay taxes. 

And these candidates should remember that these taxpayers who fork out this money yearly are of various ­colours, creeds, classes and cultures. 

So politicians owe the whole country their service and respect – not just some of the population. When they spit out virulent messages  against other Malaysians, they would do well to remember this and show some gratitude as statesmanship.

There is a second reason why many Malaysians feel disgusted by such politicians.  And that is the blatant lack of compassion or sensitivity for a nation emerging from a major crisis which had worldwide reverberations. 

Malaysians were engaged in a life-and-death struggle over the last two years and are survivors of a deep and abiding trauma from that time.

People faced a silent and deadly killer, never quite knowing when they or a loved one might be struck by this ­disease to which so many lost their lives. 

Between Jan 3, 2020, and Nov 18, 2022, Malaysia’s death toll from Covid-19, as reported to the World Health Organisation, was 36,583.

Some of these election candidates were in office at some point in the last two years. 

Candidates speaking to Malaysian citizens must remember the heroism, trauma and tragedy of how we all struggled against this coronavirus.

People emerging from such a trauma do not need future leaders playing cheap identity political tricks to win a few votes. 

Malaysians deserve leaders who have the grace and sensitivity to bear witness to this trauma and to be respectful of the memory of those who died as well as those who survived.

So, the ballot box exercise is done for the 15th General Election. Let the chips fall where they may – our structures are often too weak to hold back unworthy hatemongers. And the past four years have shown us that the will of the people may not always be respected.

Regardless of who forms the govern­ment this time around, my message to those candidates with divisive campaign messages is this: “People such as you are not worthy of Malaysia and Malaysians. Your fight is obviously about power and control. And your cheap tricks arise from shallow self-interest. You may win an election, but you are no leader!”


- The views expressed here are the views of the writers and do not necessarily reflect those of the Daily Express.

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