Thursday, 20 August 2020

POLITICIANS - FROM KSHATRIYAS TO PARIAHS IN SPIRIT AND ETHOS

Two articles lamenting the current state of Malaysian politics appeared on The Malay Mail and Aliran websites on 20 August 2020.

Also, this same day, You Tuber Richard Medhurst posted a video, a part of which he mocked the dismissive attitudes of U.S. presidential contenders Joe Biden - Kamala Harris towards young voters.

A key paragraph towards the end of their fairly long and comprehensive commentary in The Malay Mail hits the nail squarely on the head with regards Malaysian politics:-

Also, this new political culture suits the interest of both the ruling coalition as well as the opposition, as they have been greatly affected by the party hopping practice, hence they have the incentive to incubate and promote the new political culture.

Yes, that is so true - i.e. Most of today's politicians on both sides of the political divide are in politics primarily to serve their political careers, personal and family interests - AND NOT the interests of their constituents and those who voted for them, or for some noble or higher cause.

Such elected representatives will switch their political party mid-term for better opportunities, just like a company's employees, especially the executives who leave for a position in another company for better pay, better prospects and quite often a higher position, especially when their prospects of moving up the career ladder in their present company are blocked due to no vacancies higher up. Either that, or they get head hunted to join a competitor at a higher level, on higher pay and benefits.

To such politicians, we the voters and their supporters are mere vote fodder and useful idiots who vote them into their seat or even put our necks on the line for them, only for them to fart in our faces and ignore us, once comfortably in their seat.

Many concerned citizens have lamented how Malaysia's politicians and elected representatives in the early post-independence years had integrity and were committed to their political cause and to the interests of their voters and constituents, compared to today when they are self-serving careerists.

Well, those politicians and elected representatives in the early post-independence years had campaigned and fought of Malaya's independence in the face of risks of loss of persecution, torture, incarceration or even execution by the colonial master, so it usually was the most courages amongst the people who came forward to fight for their cause. In short, Malaya's earlier politicians were  Kshatriya (warriors) - not always literally but in spirit and ethos.

However, as Malaya and later Malaysia developed economically and rose into the ranks of the middle-income nations, opportunists and careerists have entered politics in increasing numbers, and now many politicians are Pariahs (outcasts or untouchables) in spirit and ethos.

      


The Confucian social hierarchy is not rigid like the Vedic hierarchy, as people can move up and down between the several strata, according to their occupation at the time.

The Confucian model places the Scholars at the top, followed by the Peasants who produced the food which feeds all, followed by the Workers (or craftsmen) who produced items including farming tools used by the Peasants and last the Merchants (capitalists) who do not create anything but just move items (traded) them around, often for a hefty profit.

In the Confucian social hierarchy, the merchants (capitalists) are the Pariahs in spirit and ethos, and today, the worst of amongst the Pariahs are the finance capitalists - parasites - essentially money lenders who give out loans and milk their debtors of the interest.

However, left out of the Confucian social hierarchy are such categories as actors, prostitutes, criminals and the like would be expected to be left off, as well as soldiers (Kshatriya).  



Call me elitist but come to think about it, China is where it is today due to it being mostly led by Shi (scholars), including by Shi drawn from the educated and intelligent amongst the Gong and the Nong.

Also, Malaysia has done pretty well to contain the COVID-19 crisis compared to many other countries, the battle which has been led by a Shi - Tan Sri Dato' Sri Dr. Noor Hisham bin Abdullah, and endocrine surgeon and Director-General of Health.

Hopefully, you now can understand why Malaysian politics is the way it is today, as well as in many other countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom.

Following below highlighted in blue is Jamari Mokhtar's a Lim Ji Yi's commentary:-

Politics is for rakyat, not for politicians — Jamari Mohtar and Lim Ji Yi

Thursday, 20 Aug 2020 10:34 AM MYT

AUGUST 20 — Recent political crises — from the collapse of the previous Pakatan Harapan (PH) government to a change in government by Perikatan Nasional (PN) have highlighted how politicians are placing their own selfish interests over the struggle for rakyat.

The people are already tired of the farces played by all the political "frogs," which in general ignore the rakyat's mandate.

They long for new, principled and ethical politicians to emerge in the political arena, to lead the country to the right way as well as to set Malaysia free from the notorious mud of money politics, kleptocracy, non-fulfilment of manifesto promises and political appointments at GLCs.

Hence, a new political culture based on integrity, ethics and service for the public good is very much needed and anticipated.

The dilemma facing current politics is that most politicians prioritise personal interest than public interest.

In their public persona, they will always say they entered politics for the sake of the 3Rs — rakyat, religion and race — but in actual fact it's for the sake of the 3Ms — me, me and me.

When asked about why they would want to switch side and support their former rival, the official and standard answer will often be "this is for the development needs of their electorate."

Is this argument justifiable enough to defend their acts?

Well, this is true given the unequal federal-state relations in Malaysia which prompts the state assemblymen to incline to the ruling federal government in hope of obtaining more funds for their constituencies. And this is another issue which requires more government effort to tackle.

However, the rakyat generally perceives this as a cover for the politician's greed and his personal craving for power.

The political reality in Malaysia lies within party politics where the political party is the be-all and end-all of things.

Leaving aside the debate on the pros and cons of party politics, the fact is the voters vote according to the party, not the candidate itself.

Hence, the mandate of the rakyat or the public interest is deeply intertwined with the political party. Seen from this perspective, party hopping is deemed against the will of the electorate.

But mandate of the rakyat could also be seen as the rakyat having no mandate at all in term of choice. The rakyat is "forced" to choose candidates chosen by the parties because it is the party who chooses the candidates not the rakyat.

Thus, the mandate of the rakyat is just limited to electing the candidates decided by the parties. The choice of candidates is actually the mandate of the parties. Put it bluntly, the rakyat has only the mandate to elect, while the party has the mandate to choose.

Then there is the individual mandate of the candidates to accept their nomination by the parties. The assumption is they would normally accept if the stance, principles and beliefs of the party is in alignment with theirs.

This imply at any moment after winning the election, if the candidates decide or perceive there is a dichotomy between the stance, principles and beliefs of their party and theirs, they have the right to hop.

And this right to hop is recognised in the Constitution via the right of association and assembly as enshrined in Article 10(1)(c) of the Federal Constitution. But there are others who say even though party hopping is constitutional, anything in the constitution that is detrimental to the rakyat can be removed by amending it.

But at this moment amending the constitution is a no brainer. As pointed out by an Umno former minister Dauk Sri Nazri Aziz, given the current political fragmentation in parliament, a constitutional amendment that needs a two-thirds majority is almost impossible and unrealistic.

He went on to propose a party-list system in which the party winning a particular constituency will always hold that constituency and the incumbent hopper will lose his seat.

Although this requires a two-thirds majority, Nazri felt this is more palatable in getting the support of the majority of the parliamentarians.

Another way is through the implementation of recall elections in which the politician's defection is put to a vote by its electorate, an idea advocated by Professor Wong Chin Huat, a political scientist from Sunway University, which is a practice in some states in the US.

The current political culture that prioritises personal interest than public interest is not just immoral and inappropriate in its nature, but it is unhealthy to the political development, economic progress, well-being of the society as well as other aspects of the nation.

It ignites the political instability which is strongly felt by rakyat at this moment. Since the political crisis that began in February, several PH state governments had collapsed, with the Sabah state government being the latest, having to hold a snap election on September 26.

The current political culture also simultaneously has an impact on the economy in terms of the uncertainties it engenders and the cost of organising a snap election at the federal level, that could probably explain the net capital outflow on a daily basis despite the good performance of the stock exchange.

All these lead to a trust deficit towards politics and government too. If this persists, the legitimacy of the current government will always be questioned.

As it is impossible for any one party in Malaysia to form the government, this new political culture should be the basis and maxim of coalition politics in Malaysia.

It is by no means a "be-all and end-all" solution to the current dilemma. However, by promoting and endorsing this new political culture, all the drawbacks induced by the present situation will be alleviated to a certain degree.

Also, this new political culture suits the interest of both the ruling coalition as well as the opposition, as they have been greatly affected by the party hopping practice, hence they have the incentive to incubate and promote the new political culture.

The point is this nation is in urgent need of a new political culture that is based on integrity, ethics and service for the public good.

* Jamari Mohtar and Lim Ji Yi are part of the research team at think-tank EMIR Research.


To add to the proposals in the article above, whilst individual elected representatives have the individual right to switch party, even mid-term, if it's possible a law could be introduced whereby if an elected representative switches party mid-term, his or her seat will fall vacant and a by-election is called, in which the former elected representative can also contents to try and win back the seat as a representative of his or her new party.

This was the case with Douglas Carswell, a Conservative Party member of parliament who switched party to the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) mid-term in 2014. He resigned his seat, a by-election was held, he contested and in this case won back his seat, now as a United Kingdom Independence Party member of parliament.   

The next article to appear on 20 July 2020 is by JD Lovrenciear on the Aliran website.

Unlike in Jamari Mokhtar's a Lim Ji Yi's commentary, in his article below, Lovrenciear's tends to paint only one side as the "bad guys" whilst the other side are "innocents" or even "angels", which is not surprising, considering that the NGO Aliran has mostly been and still is inclined towards a particular side of the political divide against the other. 

JD Lovrenciear's article follows below:-

What has happened to the Malaysian dream?

By JD Lovrenciear - 20 Aug 2020

It is sad to see what is happening to the country, JD Lovrenciear writes.

Despite the still ongoing coronavirus pandemic, more turmoil has rocked the Malaysian political scene.

A political coup toppled a democratically elected Pakatan Harapan government amid the global coronavirus outbreak. 

And then, as the country experienced a potential second wave, the Sabah State Assembly was dissolved to pre-empt another backdoor takeover, paving the way for a state election. 

Such shocking political manoeuvres suggest a serious political battle is taking place while health and safety concerns appear to take second place.

Ordinary people see themselves helplessly caught up in all this political plotting and jostling while businesses suffer and job losses mount. 

The cost of living is hitting the ceiling – but who cares. 

Many ordinary citizens had struggled to free themselves from the bondage of the Barisan Nasional's six-decade-old grip on power. But their hopes have crashed.  

This political turmoil is something that many potential investors will not want to gamble with. The economy is likely to remain stagnant or even turn fragile in a climate of global uncertainty, including unprecedented weather challenges. 

Will Malaysia sink below its neighbours in South East Asia owing to the relentless political battles here? Only time will tell – and it will not be long either, given the unprecedented challenges confronting the world.  

It is sad to see what is happening in Malaysia, due partly to the unabated decades-long plague of corruption, which has seeped through the fabric of society – a nation that once basked in the accolade of being one of the "Asian tigers".


To answer Lovrenciear's rhetorical question - What has happened to the Malaysian dream? - Well, that dream is gone and our generation may not live to see a new dream,  if any, which may emerge in the future. However, for now the rice has turned to porridge, the milk gone rancid and the meat turned putrid.

As I said earlier, the rot in politics today is not confined to Malaysia only but to other countries as well, and in his You Tube video below, London, U.K.  based Syrian journalist Richard Medhurst mocks the electoral chances of Democrats Joe Biden and Kamala Harris versus Republicans Donald Trump and Mike Pence in the upcoming U.S. presidential election in November. No Trump supporter either, Richard Medhurst is a minority Christian Syrian and anti-imperialist who tells the west to butt out of others' internal affairs, especially the affairs of Syria and other countries in the Middle East.

However, whilst most of his video is speculative, what is significant to me are the elitist, insensitive and dismissive statements made by Joe Biden and Kamala Harris with regards young voters in the U.S., which could have as devastating an affect upon their electoral chances as Hillary Clinton's elitist "basket of deplorables" statement describing working class Trump voters back in 2016. These two statements are excerpted below:-

Kamala Harris: - "What else do you know about this generation from 18 through 24? - They are stupid."

Joe Biden:- "The younger generation now tells me how tough things are - Give me a break" (applause) "No, no. I have no empathy for it - Give me a break".

I'm pretty sure young voters will be "love" the Biden-Harris duo for such insults to them.

Richard Medhurst's video follows below:-
  
Biden's Disastrous Poll Numbers

885 views•20 Aug 2020


Let's wait and see which faction of the Pariahs wins the U.S. presidency in November 2020.

Your truly

Politi Scheiss