Thursday, March 1, 2012

Of hibernating late starters


Thursday March 1, 2012

North View
By STEPHEN THEN

If these elected reps have been active, it’s not to serve the rakyat, but for personal gain.
WOULD you travel up to 600km just to shake hands with a top national leader, rub shoulders with him and have your photo taken with him?
There are quite a number of people who would simply do that because their future is at stake.
This is that time of the season where elected representatives and aspiring politicians go to extreme lengths just to be seen and noticed by the top national and state leaders who hold the key to the future for these political players.
Drop by in any functions attended by the Prime Minister or Deputy Prime Minister, and you will see quite a number of Members of Parliament (MPs), and aspiring MPs, who come from the nooks and corners of Sarawak just so that they can line up to shake hands with these national leaders.
Some of these MPs and aspiring politicians are not even invited to these functions, but they would take great pain to come, dragging along an entourage with them.
Every step that the premier or deputy premier takes, these MPs and aspiring MPs would be close by. If only they are as diligent during the past four years.
Among the existing MPs, some of them have been known to be hibernating in their little nests since they were elected into office during the last parliamentary polls in 2008.
Their parliamentary constituencies have seen little progress, either in the social, economic or industrial sense of the word.
Infrastructural progress has been slow, and these constituencies are as backward as ever. Yet these MPs seem to have suddenly picked up pace in the way they make themselves seen and noticed. Why?
I don’t want to use the words “angkat-angkat” or “hand-kissers”. These are politically very sensitive words.
The last time I used these words in my column, some chaps here in Miri threatened to chop off my hands!
I want to be more diplomatic, so let me call these hibernating MPs “late starters”.
After starting late, they now want a chance to be nominated again to stand as Barisan Nasional candidates during the coming parliamentary polls in Sarawak which will coincide with the general elections nationwide.
In order to be nominated again, their candidacy must be endorsed by the state Barisan chairman, and then the national Barisan chairman.
Top national leaders can help a great deal if they can chip in some good words on behalf of these MPs, which explains why it is so essential for these latecomers to be seen and noticed.
During Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s visit to northern Sarawak last week, a big entourage of MPs were trying to get as close to him as possible. They followed him step by step, every second of the day he was around.
I am sure when the man himself - Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Tun Razak, that is - comes to Sarawak soon, there will even be a bigger crowd of MPs and aspiring MPs who will follow his footsteps every second of the day.
When I was serving in one of the states in Peninsular Malaysia as a reporter, way back in the early 1990s, I came across cases of state assemblymen and MPs who would cry and kneel down in front of the Mentri Besar after they had been informed that they were in the drop-zone.
Their names had been included in the list of those incumbent YBs who would be dropped from the coming election.
They were listed as such because of their lack of productivity while in office.
The time had come for the young blood to take over.
But, desperate to save their necks, some of these YBs even brought along their wives and children to camp out in front of the Mentri Besar’s official residence just to beg him to give them a second chance.
These desperate YBs would go to great lengths just to stay in their political office. They knew that if they were nominated or renominated as a candidate under the Barisan banner, they were already in a good position to win in elections.
Winning a public election can bring enormous benefits.
If you know the wheelings and the dealings relating to the political arena, it is not difficult to understand why these YBs and aspiring YBs would even sacrifice their honour just to cling to the political office.
There are quite a number of elected representatives who are there not because they love the rakyat.
They are there because by being MPs or state assembly representatives, they have good income, projects that come along with their posts, chairmanship or directorship in this or that company, clubs and associations.
They get public respect, get invited to all sorts of lavish dinners and pompous gatherings. They also get to travel overseas regularly, and get fat paychecks if they manage to secure a minister or deputy minister posts.
There are of course, many MPs and state assemblymen in Sarawak and in the other states who are hard-working and sincere in wanting to serve the rakyat.
I have come across some who will go the extra mile just to help their constituents. These are those who deserve the high pay because they work hard.
However, it is obvious that there are also those who are there in the public office who have not helped their constituents much.
I have come across MPs and assemblymen who are seldom with their constituents. As a result, the people in their kawasan find it very hard to contact these YBs in time of need, because these YBs are seldom around.
These YBs seldom visit the villages to find out the problems faced by the folk there. However, during big functions attended by VVIPs you can never miss these YBs.
To me, those elected representatives who do not care about the rakyat should examine their conscience.
Some of them might have used their position for personal gain after so many years of political hibernation.
They should consider giving way to someone who is really concerned about the rakyat.
All the handshakes and shoulder-rubbing will not make up for the neglect and lack of sincerity towards the rakyat.
These YBs should quietly let go of their political office and not continue to use the Barisan platform for self-gain.
~ The Star

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