Many of our leaders tend to live in a bubble, unaware of the real sentiments on the ground.
They hardly interact with those from all walks and are often advised by their lackeys — yes-men who are only eager to say nice things and will do whatever it takes to keep their jobs and to satisfy their egos.
I’ve had the luxury of meeting a whole lot of people in recent months and when we spoke about GE14, many said: “Give me a reason to vote.”
This explains the mission by political parties to quickly convert the very many fence sitters out there — especially the supposedly educated bunch who are quick to formulate opinions based on catchy headlines or unverified videos sent via Whatsapp or Telegram.
The BN-Umno dilemma
One of the people I spoke is a familiar face in the political scene. He said: “Let’s put it this way, even if an Umno or BN leader was telling the truth, it will still be viewed as a lie. That’s the current public perception. Only their machais will defend them in the open.”
And when asked about the other BN component parties (MIC, MCA, Gerakan), he sarcastically replied: “Umno should join forces with DAP instead of PAS. They will surely win big in GE14. To those who say rubbish or impossible … well Tun Dr Mahathir (Mohamad) is now sitting alongside (DAP’s) Lim Kit Siang and PKR.”
“MCA, MIC and Gerakan have got no say. Go to the streets and ask the people what they think of these parties … they are nothing. DAP enjoys more support than MCA, MIC and Gerakan combined and this was evident at the last GE."
The lack of substance is apparent, evident when politicians or individuals initiate personal attacks against each other.
A young executive said some of the newspaper headlines were nauseating and that the actions by certain ministers to protect their boss takes “the art of bodek-ing to a new level”.
“Why must newspaper use words like ‘penyokong perhimpunanharam berusia, berpenyakit.’ And newspaper owners then wonder why people are not reading their stuff anymore.”
|This headline made its rounds on social media and instant messaging services.|
“Those who want to attack the former Prime Minister should do it with class, substance. He has made blunders in the past. Attack based on facts … not personal stuff or mock a person based on his ethnicity or background.
“Remember, he once served the nation. And if this carries on, the current and future prime ministers should be afraid as they too will suffer the same fate once they leave office as a precedent has been set.”
He said there were some ministers who were overly protective over Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
“I don’t remember a portfolio called Minister to Defend Najib Kaw-Kaw in the Cabinet. Such actions are actually bruising Najib's image. Najib has been in the business long enough. He knows how to handle himself."
An acquaintance who works in the medical industry said our leaders seem to condone silly antics by attention seekers.
“What happened to intelligent discourse, the ability to handle matters by adhering to the laws of the country? And why are the leaders silent over such actions. This means they accept such a behaviour. Does this mean they encourage others do the same as well?”
"We are to be blamed too. There are some of my friends who just talk without thinking. There are those who formulate opinions based on half truths and unverified news or videos. These are educated people, some holding senior positions within their companies.
"They believe they are right and refuse to listen to any other views. No one wants to take a step back and digest what's happening around them," she added.
‘But BN will still win lah …’
An opposition leader agreed Umno remains strong in the rural areas and will mathematically win GE14, perhaps with a lesser majority.
“This is where some of the opposition leaders have got it wrong. They speak about 1MDB, national issues, get involved in personal attacks … the communities don’t understand, they can’t relate.”
“They want to know if there will be electricity in their neighbourhoods, good roads, proper education and healthcare … such things matter to them.”
Should Najib go?
“Yes. We need a new leader,” said a Grab driver.
An IT executive echoed similar sentiments. He said his family and circle of friends shared the same view as well.
But when asked who should replace Najib, they had no answer.
Does Pakatan Harapan deserve a place in Putrajaya?
Many I spoke to agreed government and opposition politicians were “dua kali lima”.
An acquaintance in the media fraternity admitted his friends in his Whatsapp group had agreed to “give the opposition a chance in GE14” and if they didn’t like what they see, they “will be voted out at GE15.”
There are others who insisted PKR and DAP are all about family and friends.
“But many still have the ABU mentality (Asal Bukan Umno). They are supporting PKR and DAP not because they want to, but they see it as the only way to get rid of the many arrogant BN leaders.”
It’s always about the people
Politicians must understand their constituents, be with them, and not disappear throughout their term only to reappear weeks before the elections, said a hawker who operates near Jalan Tun Razak.
“I know (BN’s) Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani will win Titiwangsa again if he contests. Why? Because he spends time with his constituents despite holding a big post (Second Finance Minister).”
|Some of the comments made on Johari's Facebook page recently.|
A pasar malam trader in Cheras said the reason why DAP’s Tan Kok Wai is a hit is because he is always there for the people. For the record, Tan has been an MP since 1986.
“He has been around for so long, because we all know who Tan Kok Wai is. He is always here.
|Tan is a popular man in Cheras.|
“You want me to vote for someone else? Who is that person? Those who stood against Tan in the past were basically unknowns. How can we vote for someone we don’t know?”
“Give us a reason to vote. If we know the person, we know more about him, his work … he spends time with the people and not just attacking his opponents, and maybe we will give this person a chance.
"We want a leader who will be able to assure us that we can lead better lives, feed our families and go for holiday at least once a year. Is that too much to ask?”