Loh Seng Kok

Parlimen Malaysia

Barisan Nasional MCA

Loh Seng Kok 卢诚国
Member of Parliament for Kelana Jaya
(2004 - Feb 2008)

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Value of a good track record

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by Terence Fernandez - The Sun (Down2Earth)

There is an air of unease among several incumbents heading for Saturday’s polls. The fear that they may not be returned to power by their constituents is compounded by a track record that is far from ideal.

From not being available to their voters to helplessness and even a downright refusal to address their problems, and not speaking up on issues close to the electorate’s hearts – these incumbents are now doing some soul searching in retrospect, looking back at their own performance and gauging whether the support from voters will wane.

For others, despite their excellent service record, there are factors which are out of their hands such as national matters – hikes in the petrol price and prices of essential goods, policing etc – the bigger issues which are determined by the national leadership.

Having to toe the party line on hot issues is also a bane to politicians who sincerely want to serve those who elected them into office.

While party loyalty is important, to the voters what is paramount is the public interest. Unfortunately in some cases, their wakil rakyat have failed to live up to that name – "wakil the rakyat".

Four years may be a long period – giving most people enough time to commit transgressions and atone for them. For example, speaking up against the rape of open spaces when, barely a year back, the MP condoned the hijacking of a children’s playground by a political party so it could put up its branch office.

If he is questioned about this, he can just lie through his teeth: "I never received any complaints from residents".

Another politician who took over open spaces and made millions building a business park – with the endorsement of the state leadership – today speaks out against the destruction of fields and playgrounds in the name of progress.

He probably thinks nobody could get hold of minutes of local council meetings. But if he is alert to the fact that the proceedings are available to the masses – in spite of the word ‘sulit’ stamped on the cover - then he will know that the people are aware that many development projects were pushed through on his persistence – to benefit him or his cronies.

One MP-wannabe had just several months ago taken a swipe at street demonstrators asking for better treatment of ethnic Indians. He even questioned why several industries are controlled by certain ethnic minorities. Today he portrays himself as a champion of all Malaysians irrespective of race, colour or creed.

There are those who watched with arms folded when local authorities’ formulated questionable concessions which bordered on rent-seeking, where businesses were only allowed to deal with a single entity that charged exorbitant fees.

They only spoke up and feigned opposition to the scheme when questioned by the media.

Then there are others who worked in the background to bring a consensus between the electorate and the powers-that-be. Declining to take credit (or brick-bats) as they are torn between doing what’s right and what’s expected; what’s accepted by a cross-section of voters and what’s not received well by others.

One example is assisting certain groups to obtain permits for places of worship. The representative is invisible to the powers-that-be, and also the bulk of their voters who are unaware that he has worked in the shadows to avoid "controversy" so that a number of constituents could get what they wanted, while the others are blissfully ignorant.

At the same time, there are politicians who have been preaching religious tolerance but show their true self when they speak up at the approval stages against applications for land to build houses of worship. Even festive days of other communities are not observed as they carry on with more "pressing matters".

While battling violence and aggression is in the manifesto of both incumbents and challengers, the actions of some of their followers – flag-carrying rempits who cause traffic accidents and beat up reporters – seem to illustrate that they do not practise what they preach.

To these Yang Berhormats and potential Yang Berhormats, the electorate is neither blind nor stupid. With information flowing freely from cheap pamphlets to the internet, such transgressions will come to light sooner or later – and always at the most inopportune time to remind voters why they should or should not endorse one candidate over another.

If they had walked the talk, there will be nothing to fear. Now it is time for the people to speak, and judging by the dismal performance of some incumbents and challengers, they will not like what the voters will have to say on Saturday.


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Last modified:  Monday, August 10, 2009