This voter has something to say

THE last time we voted was about four years and a month ago. Past practice and all the drama in the country make it clear that we will be going to the polls soon.

So what do you want to see happen for Malaysia in the next five years? What do you want from the ruling party, the opposition parties and the independents?

What kind of polling season do you want and what kind of commitment would you like after the elections from the winners and losers?

A lot was promised five years ago but how much of what was said, materialised? If the nation was a 60-year-old adult, there would be certain expectations of it. It should be mature to say the least but what would its health check say? I am not a doctor but looking back at the last four years, it's safe to say stress levels are high.

So this time, instead of letting the politicians drag us through an uncomfortable period of brandishing their accomplishments and putting down their opponents, what is it that you want to hear them say and do during the next five years?

This is what I want from both sides of the political divide. You might think it is wishful thinking and it might be, but I will say it anyway. First, I would like the politicians to apologise. First to each other and then to the people for dragging the "rakyat" through the mud. What seemed like just electoral jibes four years ago have unfortunately continued since and fractured the country further.

We see it in the racial and religious intolerance. We seen it in the corruption levels – perception or reality. We see it in how impolite the country has become not just in Parliament but especially so on the streets in the level of violence over simple matters like parking lots. While there are many heartwarming news stories of people helping each other, it is always coloured through the lens of religion and race. A Malay motorcyclist helped a stranded Indian change the car tyre. A Chinese doctor helped a Malay accident victim. What happened to a human just helping another human, or being Malaysian and helping each other because it is part of our cultural DNA?

The second thing would be for the politicians to actually stop announcing projects and funds without detailed explanations and procedures of how things will work and how the target community or people can access them. For every project announced, there should be a timeframe, and real results analysed. Not through thick annual reports but in real tangible easy to understand means. There is no need for pop and pageantry events with gift bags filled with advertising merchandise. Use that money for the people whom the projects are meant to benefit.

Third, have a clear plan that is workable. Tell us what policies the party will uphold, what will be discontinued. Talk about issues that concern the people and how in practical ways they will be dealt with. Have a proper mandate that is clear which tells the voter what the party and politician will do for their constituency and nation. It is time to be pragmatic and practical, instead of providing unviable options.

Fourth, stop the in-fighting. As it is, the political system is weak. The political parties are weak. Wining does not mean that the party is in good shape – far from it. At 60 years old, things start to seriously fall apart. But if the parties and alternatives cannot even sort out their individual differences, it not only does a disservice to the voter trust in the party but also questions the capability to lead. A public spat whether in the political sphere or between partners does not inspire confidence in either party – what it does is shine a light on immaturity. There is a fine line between standing up for one's principles for the good of the nation or for one's own ego trip. Voters want change and not ideology. Show us change instead of public spats.

Fifth, would be for intelligent speech. The divide and conquer rule will only cause more ruin and as it is, we are not in a good state. Yes, the economic numbers show us that the country is just fine but that means nothing to someone who cannot afford real food, or is battling daily with rising transport costs or finds their standard of living dwindling while working just as hard everyday to make a living.

Being a politician is not easy, so I'd like to say thank you, because everything gets scrutinised. But if you've taken up the challenge to be a politician then work for a better country, a better Malaysia.

If you are a voter, perhaps the words of Irvine Welsh, author of Trainspotting, might be a good way to navigate through this long election season "When you're not doing so well, vote for a better life for yourself. If you are doing quite nicely, vote for a better life for others".