Give us honest, smart candidates

IT is telling that Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told Johor Umno on July 7 that Barisan National candidates for GE 14 must be both "winnable and likeable".

This is a strong but unclear message to BN political leaders. What is unclear is that, if the candidates are winnable, they will most probably be, also "likeable". We cannot have winnable candidates who are not likeable.

Which voter wants to support an unlikeable candidate, unless he is under financial or psychological duress. Indeed a likeable candidate may not qualify to be a winnable candidate. If so, then even a funny clown can qualify to be selected as a candidate, but he will not be a winnable candidate. Hence, likeable candidates are not necessarily winnable candidates. Hence, a winnable candidate must clearly be much more than a likeable candidate, to qualify to be selected as a BN candidate.

The criteria for winnable candidates could or should be as follows:

» Honesty and morality.
» Intelligence. We don't want dumb candidates in Parliament.
» Capability to cope with the growing knowledge economy and the international economic challenges and security threats.
» A Malaysian outlook is vital for our survival. Those who play the race and religious cards, and who indulge in bigotry, should be rejected.
» Sustainable development goals should be the hallmarks and sacred commitment and aspirations of all candidates.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak is reported to have said that the proven formula that helped win the last several elections for BN was the choice of popular candidates who are "well liked " by voters. That makes some sense. But what if, the popular and likeable candidate is a racist, a religious bigot or a corrupt person or crook.

Then those who play the racial and extremist religious political tunes and those who promise large sums of money through the extensive use of dirty "money politics", will win the selection of candidates, to run for the elections. And if they win by some stroke of luck or strong assistance, they will get into power and run away with a lot of loot.

These are difficult questions to raise. But they have to be debated if we are to have a plausible, credible and lively democracy.

Hence the leaders of all political parties have to be bold and decisive and deal stoutly with the powerful war lords who threaten our democratic system.

Malaysian voters have become more mature and sophisticated. They will not vote for just likeable candidates or even winsome candidates.

Today's voters will want to vote for candidates who are honest, able and willing to sacrifice more to serve all Malaysians regardless of race and religion.

Candidates who strive to enable all Malaysians achieve their full potential will be the winnable candidates and not just likeable and other types of candidates.

Let's hope our political leaders send the right message to the candidates and select the right candidates or face the wide possibilities of disappointment and even electoral failure.

The Malaysian voters' will to vote wisely shall prevail and God willing, let not any undue obstacles hinder free and fair elections.

Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam
Chairman
Asli Centre for Public Policy Studies