Hornbill Unleashed

April 25, 2013

Vote for the right person

KJ John

I asked a niece, “Do you know the candidates who are standing in your constituency?” The real reason for my question was to know if they, the younger generation, was aware that in most locations, every citizen registered to vote had to make two choices? The only exceptions are in the Federal Territories and the state of Sarawak.

In Sarawak it is because they had their state elections about two years ago and in the Federal Territories because we are not democratic enough to offer a local issues concerns of residents a choice.

In the FT, I believe, they should be given a choice of who represents us in the City Hall governance based on the “number of precincts under the jurisdiction of the City Council in cases of Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya, and some equitable criterion for the case of Labuan. But, alas, that may only happen when we can some have real change in the leadership of Putrajaya.

My niece’s answer, however, caught me by real surprise. She said,“I will vote Anything But Umno (ABU).” Assuming that ABU is a good strategy, and I fully agree with that strategy, let us assume, however, for academic reasons, both candidates have the name of ABU as their first names, and one is called Tengah and the other is called Tepi. Between Abu Tengah and Abu Tepi; who should we vote for?

Vote for person or party?

First is the most philosophical question for all to consider is: do we, in any general election, elect or select the party or the person? The truth of the matter is, the party can never be held fully accountable for the choices of their persons but we can always hold the person directly responsible for his or her actions and non-actions.

The individual has a face and a place; organisations have no conscience. Therefore I will always vote for the person and never the party. Sometimes, I vote for other more strategic reasons, which are exceptions.

What then are some criteria to use in voting in the right person at the level of the constituency? I have a pet theory about persons and personalities which I will use to explicate how and why I will choose one person but not another.

Theory R and right choice

Who is really is the right person to vote for this time for the 13th GE? Let me elucidate some seven leadership integrity criteria which we can use.  These are:

1. What is this candidate’s view on “authority?” Is the elected person the final authority in all matters of law-making? Are legal truths only about laws of the land; or, is there not a higher law of God that we need to also consider? Or, just as important, are the laws of the environment also important? Is not therefore our law-making also a process of democratic choice exercised on our behalf and with the interest of all others who are equally important?
Does not our candidate have to consider the need for triple accountabilities? Are the days of simple financial accounting not already gone, or even just managerial accounting, but now with the need for socio-environmental impact analyses?

2. Is the person a responsible actor or simply acts as an irresponsible agent? Responsible actors will make choices on issues following their consciences but agents blindly follow party discipline and act without consideration for the concerns of the people on the ground, who voted for them in the first place.

3. When the elected assume their role as our wakil rakyat; do they “play the role, or, do they assume this new role with a full sense of responsibility and accountability?” In short, overnight, do they actually become Yang Berhormat and forget the voters and their commitments, or do they assume the role of Yang Berkhidmat?

When you only “play a role,” you are simple actors on a world stage and all of life is reduced to politics. If we are electing our wakil rakyat, we need to be clear that they do in fact represent us, and especially on difficult issues, they need to get our views before they vote; they cannot vote blindly based on their party whips.

4. What is your relationship with the persons to be considered for election? Do you know them?  Do you or your community even know them?  In Malay it is said, “tak kenal maka tak cinta!” Yes, if you do now know them they cannot work for you.

So, if you have never met your potential wakil rakyat, please invite them to your community and ask them to speak to you all and ask them all the questions you consider important. Remember, tak kenal maka tak cinta!

5. What is their view about global human rights principles? What do they think about human rationality; do humans have a conscience? Do all humans enjoy equal human rights and globally ensured privileges? Or, is this reserved for some only?

6. What or how they decide if an issue is right or wrong, good or bad, or ethical or unethical? What values do they use to decide moral right and wrong about public space issues? Do they acknowledge the human freedoms to choose what is right and wrong as their personal choice and therefore the subsequent accountability?

7. Finally, as one of my friends puts, what is their reason for being? Their raison d’etre? What is their worldview and perspective towards life, living and dying? If they have no reason for being, there is no other higher purpose in life! Then, all the other issues and questions do not matter at all! Ignore such people; as they choose to not be accountable to any other being or entity.

Choice-making and accountability

Malaysia is at a very serious crossroad. Your choice at this general election is important; please pray and apply your choice with a clear conscience and vote for a new set of moral values; which will positively destroy bribery and corruption as a way of life in Malaysia. That can be our real choice. May God bless Malaysia.


KJ JOHN was in public service for 29 years. The views expressed here are his personal views and not those of any institution he is involved with. Write to him at kjjohn@ohmsi.net with any feedback or views.

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1 Comment »

  1. “I will vote for the opposite party, even if they put up the picture of a dog” …. This is what I heard today in the coffee-shop.

    Comment by tigeryk — April 25, 2013 @ 5:57 PM | Reply


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