THOSE of us living in the towns and cities do not require the assistance of our elected representatives as much as those living in less urban settings.
I must qualify that this is in the context of seeking help of a personal nature and not on general matters affecting public interest.
There are many tasks we are able to handle ourselves, so we do not bother our members of parliament unnecessarily.
Imagine a constituency of 40,000 voters. If everyone has a problem for the MP to resolve, he will have 40,000 problems and issues to handle. No wonder some of them go AWOL at times. That’s just too much on the plate.
Let’s be fair to our MPs. They are only human. There is only that much they can possibly cope with.
On certain matters, they are just as powerless as you and me even though they may be elected legislators. This is particularly so when your MP is from the opposition.
I am a voter in the Stampin constituency of Kuching. My MP is Datuk Yong Khoon Seng. He is also a deputy minister. Because of his ministerial duties, he can be quite busy at federal level.
I believe I have not actually seen Yong in person for the past 10 years.
No, it’s not that the MP is never around or not doing his work in serving his constituents. In fact, I’ve heard that Yong is a popular personality and a grassroots politician.
It’s just that there is no reason for me to see him. Why go and meet busy people when there is no reason to do so?
To be honest, I don’t even know where Yong’s service centre is located in Kuching. I didn’t bother to find out because I can’t find a reason yet to locate my MP and seek his help.
Perhaps the day will come when I will need to ask my MP for help — like when I’m feeble and old and cannot walk any more. Aha, then I would probably see my MP and ask him for a wheelchair. That will be the day!
Well, another thing is that I don’t actually live in Kuching now although it is my home town. That’s why I do not get to see my Stampin MP. Not that I need to see him anyway.
Even though I now reside in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, I also do not see that MP or ask him for any assistance over that side.
My residence is actually in the Kelana Jaya constituency and the serving MP is Loh Gwo-Burne of PKR. Well, he is the guy who became famous for releasing the VK Lingam video clip back in 2007.
Although I am not a registered voter in Kelana Jaya, I consider Loh as my MP because I am a long-time resident in his constituency.
I only met Loh in person once just before the 2008 general election when he came to my office in Kuala Lumpur. After that, I have yet to meet him or bump into him anywhere in KL or PJ.
That’s not to insinuate that Loh is not around to perform his tasks as an MP. It’s that I have no reason to meet him — the situation is similar with my Stampin MP.
Then, MPs must be mindful that not every constituent is like me and others who do not bother elected representatives. There are many who need their help with a myriad of problems.
While I do not need to meet my MP physically and seek his help personally, that does not mean that I have no expectations of him.
Oh yes, I do. My expectations of my MP and political leaders in general are pretty high up there, I must say.
Off hand, I want answers to issues and problems. I want responsible leadership. I want stability and prosperity.
I expect to live in a safe, healthy and clean environment. I expect a functional and very efficient city council or local authority.
I want a good school in or near my neighbourhood where my kids can go to. I expect places in local universities for my children and later, good jobs waiting for them.
I expect prudent management of our resources and a resilient economy even in the worst of times. Banks should be ever willing to help SMIs at all times.
I don’t wish to see my fellow citizens poor and miserable and abject poverty should be eradicated.
I want to see that every citizen has access to good, medical care and it should be free.
Of course, these are our expectations for political leaders and the government we elect to power.
It may be almost impossible for them to fulfil those expectations if the MP elected in your area is from the opposition.
As elections are near and politicians are busy canvassing for your votes, this is the perfect time to tell them what you expect of them. Otherwise you may not see them again – possibly only in five years during the next election.
Let me direct these messages to the younger set of politicians serving their first term or making their electoral debut.
It’s almost impossible to expect veteran politicians to change. I think most of you can readily agree with me on that.
Top of my list is that I wish to see a God-fearing candidate. A person who believes in God and has a religion is more likely to have a conscience.
A person who has a conscience will think twice about getting involved in unsavoury conduct and illegal activities. I want to believe that such a person is unlikely to be corrupt. Being incorruptible is the hallmark of a good political leader.
Sadly, we have hypocrites too among our politicians who profess a religion. They hide behind the veil of religiosity and abuse their position and power for their own selfish ends. These people will have to answer to their Maker one day.
I also wish to see an MP who is humble. A man or woman who is humble and able to enjoy the simple pleasures of life is more likely to understand and feel for the common folk and their everyday struggles. Humility is another important trait in political leadership.
As I write this during Holy Week, I am reminded of the great humility exerted by Pope Francis. As Archbishop Emeritus of Buenos Aires, he chose to live in a small apartment, cooked his own meals and travelled by public transport.
Soon after being elected Pope, he personally went to the Vatican hotel counter to settle his bills and refused to sit on the Papal Throne but opted for a white chair instead.
Back home, a great example of humility is Kelantan Menteri Besar Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat. He is the only state chief executive I know who chose to live in his simple kampung house, carried his own bags and frequently ate at roadside stalls with the public.
I also hope for an MP who is diligent, intelligent, caring and responsible. It might be too much on our part to suggest that anything more than that will be a bonus but let me say it anyway.
No, I don’t expect a saint for an MP but surely, there is no excuse for not being saintly in living your life as a people’s representative.
Hey, lest you forget, you must have declared at some point that you are in politics because of your burning desire to serve the people. There you go!
Have a blessed and happy Easter.
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