Friday, May 23, 2014


Raja Petra Kamarudin
Lucy Maria Powell, who was born in Manchester, went to Parrs Wood High School and studied chemistry at Somerville College, Oxford, and at King’s College, London (BSc).
Lucy, who is one of the five Members of Parliament for Manchester, is 39 years old and joined the Labour Party at the age of 15. Four of the five Members of Parliament for Manchester are from the Labour Party. The fifth one is from the Liberal Democratic party.
The reason I am talking about Lucy is because she is the Member of Parliament for my area, Newton Heath. She, however, is Labour while I am Liberal Democrat. Hence that places her on the opposite side of the political fence to me.

But that is not an issue here in the UK. She may be from the ‘parti lawan’ but that does not mean I despise her. In fact, the opposite is true. I quite like her. I mean just look at her picture. Can I dislike a person who looks like that?
Lucy Powell
If this were Malaysia, though, I would be forced to hate her because that is how we do things in Malaysia.
The issue here, which is what I really want to talk about, is that people here in the UK do not really care about personalities. I can bet most Manchester voters do not even know that this city has five Members of Parliament and who these people are. And how many Manchester voters from the Ancoats, Clayton, Ardwick, Bradford, City Centre, Hulme, Miles Platting, Newton Heath, Moss Side and Moston area are even aware that Lucy is their Member of Parliament? (In fact, my parliamentary constituency had the lowest voter turnout in 2010 at only 44%).
This could mean one of two things. One could be that UK people are not too concerned about politics considering only 65.1% of the eligible voters came out to vote on 6th May 2010. The other could be that UK people are more mature and look at the party stand rather than personalities, mainly because personalities are an extension of what their party stands for.
Hence, in the four parliamentary constituencies that are ‘workers areas’ (where you find most council houses), Labour won. In the one parliamentary constituency that is ‘upmarket’ (kawasan orang kaya), Lib Dem won. And the same was repeated for the rest of the country where Labour swept areas where people are ‘struggling to survive’, Conservative swept areas where people have money (and live in multi-million Ringgit homes), and Lib Dem swept areas where the ‘more idealistic’ live (which is why many university students and academicians supported Lib Dem).
There are no ceramahs. There are no flags and posters. There are no parades and processions. There is no vilifying, name-calling and personal attacks. There is no violence or ‘incidences’. In fact, if you happened to have visited the UK in May 2010, you would not have even realised that an election was going on.
However, on 6th May 2010, just short of two-thirds of British voters came out to cast their vote and chose their new government. And power peacefully transferred from one party to another. (There was no ‘May 13’ on 13th May 2010).
We have less than a year before the next general election in May 2015. Yes, here in the UK we have no surprises and ambushes. We do not need to speculate and guess as to when the next general election is going to be held. We sort of know that Parliament will be dissolved on Monday, 30th March 2015, and the elections will be held on Thursday, 7th May 2015.
Does that not sound very just, fair and civilised? We do not need a Bersih here in the UK. But don’t get me wrong. Gerrymandering occurs here in the UK just like back in Malaysia. If not how could my party, Lib Dem, have won only 8.8% of the seats against a backdrop of 23% of the popular votes? So, yes, gerrymandering is also a problem in the UK as well. And because of that Lib Dem is probably going to get kicked out on 7th May 2015. Sigh….
Now compare that with what is going on in the Teluk Intan by-election. It is all about personal attacks on the candidates plus members of their family. And the opposition is not any better when they raise personal matters regarding the Barisan Nasional candidate and accuse him of drunkenness and wife beating.
Islam and Islamic laws are being dragged into the smearing campaign. Both sides are being challenged to state their stand on Hudud, the controversial criminal Sharia law. Islam, Islamic laws and Hudud are now a victim in the dirty campaign to win votes.
Racism is being used to the maximum. The Teluk Intan by-election has been reduced to Malays versus Chinese with Malay education and educational institutions such as UiTM plus Malay privileges and Article 153 of the Constitution all being fair game in the tussle to win votes.
In short, it is business as usual in Teluk Intan where race and religion are the ammunition that both sides use to smear and run down the opposing side.
What the voters should focus on is just one thing. The candidates represent their coalition. In fact, they do not even represent their individual parties, Gerakan or DAP. They represent Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat because Gerakan and DAP cannot preach their own ‘religion’. They have to preach the religion of the coalition that they belong to.
Hence Mah Siew Keong is not a Gerakan candidate. He is a Barisan Nasional candidate. And Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud is not a DAP candidate. She is a Pakatan Rakyat candidate.
The question here is whom do we want to send to Parliament, Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat? That is the person we need to vote for.
But before we decide whom to send to Parliament we need to know what both coalitions stand for. And do we know this?
In the UK, before we decide, we want to know the party’s stand on the EU, the independence of Scotland, the NHS, university students’ fees, the immigration policy, house prices, unemployment, minimum wage, and much more. And we would expect a series of debates to be held, live on TV, so that the voters can gauge each party’s stand on all these issues and more.
First of all, why can’t Malaysia fix the date of the general elections? If we want the elections to be held in May every five years then fix it for May 2018, May 2023, and so on.
Next we should give equal airtime on TV to all political parties. Then we should organise live debates on TV in the run-up to the general elections so that the party leaders can tell the voters what their stand is on various issues of concern to the voters.
We really need to change the way we ‘play’ politics in Malaysia. It is getting to be very childish and immature. We complain that Malaysians are immature, too racist, backward in their thinking, not rational enough, pushing Malaysia to the brink of civil unrest, and whatnot. But what do you expect when this is exactly what our leaders are like? Malaysia is what it is because of the politicians.
Bersih is fighting for free and fair elections. But that is only as far as the managing of the elections is concerned. That is not the main hurdle we need to overcome although it is an issue we need to address. The main hurdle is that Malaysians demand to live in a country with first-world facilities but still have a third-world mentality.
Malaysians are so proud of their education. But going to university does not mean you are educated. It just means you possess a piece of paper. If the way Malaysians act is an example of people who have received an education, I wonder what Malaysia would be like if these people were not educated.