Seriously, silly season is here

THE Kajang by-election is upon us and with it the silly season has descended on the denizens of the town that made satay famous.

To be sure, the air of ludicrousness has extended beyond the confines of this quaint hamlet to the rest of Selangor, and even beyond.

Politics has been in the air since 2008 with an all-pervasive effect on the Malaysian psyche over the past six years, eclipsing the earlier decades of political activity which had its high points. But it was nothing like what we have been seeing since the political tsunami hit.

Suddenly, everyone is a politician with his or her 10 cents of advice for those in office or running for it.

I am purposely tackling this issue with an air of levity as Malaysian politics has entered the realm of comedy with, among others, comedians (and comediennes) being questioned by police for lampooning others.

All manner of accusations are levelled by both sides of the political divide against the other. The mind boggles at the extent to which allegations can go from the perfectly sensible but inapplicable to the zany and out of the world.

The minds that developed democracy aeons ago would be astounded by the depths of depravity it has descended to around the world.

In our comfort zone called Malaysia, politics has become in the main personality assassination as core issues are forgotten or given the old heave ho.

There is little debate as to why one side or the other would be the better choice. It is clear that people – read some Malaysians – are bigger than issues.

Lest this be seen as a general bashing of Malaysian politics per se, it is not.

The Barisan National and Pakatan Rakyat are equally culpable in this respect for the disdain they exhibit towards the hoi polloi who they think don't know the difference between politics and pugilism (chose any comparison you want).

They should realise that Malaysians generally want to know what their elected representatives can do for them to make life easier on the whole.

In Kajang, for example, locals want to know what either side will do about clogged drains, traffic snarls, collection of garbage and open space for recreation if elected into office as state assemblyman for the constituency.

This is uppermost on most minds with the exception of the party card-carrying types who will not be swayed from the party line come what may. Of course, they would like to hear and read juicy tidbits about what politicians on the other side have been doing but these fade into the background in the face of more serious issues.

Casting the net farther afield, one finds that politics has invaded our homes with the inane making it big on online portals, and the print and broadcast media as politicians and their gurkhas provide enough fodder to make themselves and their cohorts look silly.

So who is minding the shop?

We seem to be inundated by politics of the weary and debilitating sort that does not lead anywhere. It weakens the fabric of our society with its vapidity while more serious bread and butter issues do not get the time and attention they deserve.

There are numerous issues that should come in for more attention from our politicians like the rising cost of living which needs to be tackled with great urgency.

Our children's education is another area of concern for parents who want to know in no uncertain terms about standards in schools and whether local tertiary qualifications will stand up to global demands.

As for Kajang folk, they will know 38 days from today about what the future is going to look like in the constituency with the winner in the by-election starting official duties as the man or woman to go to for resolution of problems affecting the community.

The BN and PR should seriously put politicking aside to look at the core issues affecting the electorate. They should talk about what they will do for the people of Kajang in the event of victory. Everything else is pure embellishment.

Let's remember this: there is only so much grandstanding that the people can take. Ultimately, they will use their gut feeling and the track record of candidates when casting their votes.

BN and PR should cut to the chase and tell it as it is. But please do leave the rhetoric aside.

Be on guard

THE day after this column carried news that I had become a snatch-theft victim, I was inundated by emails, text messages and telephone calls from friends and relatives and other fellow victims who are members of the unofficial snatch-theft victims club.

All commiserated with me on the incident, relating their respective experiences that ranged from loss of jewellery to broken bones and other injuries on the back of the loss of thousands of ringgit in ornaments.

I must thank God for letting me off lightly without injury.

The day after publication, I was pleasantly surprised to receive a call from an ASP Ramesh of the Petaling Jaya police who expressed concern over the theft.

He also promised that police will increase patrols in Damansara Utama where the incident took place barely 300m from the Damansara Utama police station.

I am sure that snatch thieves do not care where they commit their nefarious activities as they usually hightail it out of the scene after putting someone through much distress.

But I am thankful for the call and hope that police will follow through on their promise.

So is much going to change as far as snatch thefts are concerned?

I honestly do not think so given the fact that our police force is stretched by many other demands.

Frankly, it is up to us, the people, to be more alert as we walk our streets. We need to rethink the way we operate outside our homes. The days of carefree jaunts are clearly over.

Balan Moses, theSun's executive editor (news), wants politicians to remember that the people are watching their every act and hearing their every word. They have to say what they mean and mean what they say. Cliched but true. We are a mature society and should be treated as such by those aspiring to lead us. Feedback: bmoses@thesundaily.com