Mudslinging, name calling, character assassination, fault finding and gift giving seem to be at the core of many of the “ceramahs” that are taking place leading up to GE14. The media seems to be calling this the ‘mother of all general elections’ and therefore every candidate is out there trying to outdo each other… a kind of “gutter politics” that we have never seen before.  In our sixty-year history as an independent nation, surely, we must have grown as a nation but all that is happening around us these days looks like bullies in a slugfest, intimidating each other and fighting to be the last man / woman standing.  More than any previous general elections, this battle is not only being fought on the streets but also on social media, where even the ordinary man / woman on the street is now “campaigning” from the comforts of their arm chair.

In the midst of all this chaos, what can Malaysians do, when looking around us and all that one sees is those presenting themselves to be our leaders are at each other throats? Even with the eyes of faith, it becomes more and more challenging to look for signs of hope in the distant horizon. Almost all candidates who are presenting themselves for GE 14 seem to have two personalities, one towards the people in their constituencies and another towards their opponents. The former seems to be angelic (kind, courteous, empathetic) while the latter demonstrates a monster (brash, rude, unsympathetic). Which personality truly represents the candidate? One begins to wonder, and this is made worse when the pre-election “angel” then turn out to be our post-election “monster” and the forked tongue talk about caring, sharing and giving turns out to be purely campaigning rhetoric.

The way I see it, most people have already made up their minds as to whom they are going to vote for, and there is only a vague chance that they will change their mind at the very last minute. Those sitting on the fence are now targets to being offered free gifts and promises that that would put even Santa Claus to shame.  In a recent conversation, someone mentioned that she weighed all the candidates and will decide to choose the ‘lesser of two evils’. It is intriguing that she did not say that she will choose the better candidate or the one that shares her vision for the country but sees them as ‘evil’ that she is now obligated to choose the lesser of two evils.  What a sad state we have reduced ourselves to!

Despite finding ourselves faced with such a conundrum, I am sure there are some who are optimistic, while others may be pessimistic… there are also those who probably just can’t wait for GE14 to be over so as to carry on with life no matter who is in power. The choice of whom to elect lies solely on the individual but the current confusing state can quite easily lead one to think that inaction is the best form of action or even think that my one vote will not make a difference. While it may be tempting, a Christian cannot allow the ‘culture of indifference’ to prevail in these times. In the words of Eldridge Cleaver, an American writer and political activist,“There is no more neutrality in the world. You either have to be part of the solution, or you’re going to be part of the problem.”

The principle of the common good must be our guide in choosing our candidate… who is it that can bring about greater good to Malaysia in the next five years? Both alliances have come up with their manifestos… what they intend to do for the ‘rakyat’. How wonderful it would have been if candidates focussed only on this rather than the uncivilised mudslinging that we see and hear now. Will we ever mature to become a nation that can debate openly and later be held accountable? Will we ever grow up and put aside our childish behaviour of intimidation and fear mongering? Can politicians ever stop all this distortions, exaggerations, misrepresentations, deceptions, half-truths and overstatements?

Irrespective of whether we desire change or whether we are happy with the status quo, when we entrust people with power over our lives, that power should be exercised in our interests; that obligation must always prevail over the interests of the people given the power. Let us free ourselves from the lure of free gifts and election promises and vote according to one’s conscience because it is there that we are going to be held accountable. If we allow ourselves to be swayed by these ‘gift bearing kings’, then we are no different from the people who keep the corrupt system intact.

We need to rise above the ‘political sewage’ and shift our focus on the real issues at hand, i.e. the wellbeing and future of our country. The die has been cast. The candidates have been named and there is no turning back now for all of us who have a responsibility to go out and vote. Once the candidate has been elected, hold them accountable for what they promised or else, come GE15, this show will start all over again. Selamat mengundi!