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For shame! Civility, decency and the substance of politics

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Chistopher Chong reminds elected reps that they are public servants whose job it is to ensure the welfare of all Malaysians by focusing on public issues rather than personal political gains.

MPs in Parliament - Photograph: anwaribrahim.info

We Malaysians pride ourselves as being courteous people. However, the latest incident which involved unfounded allegations over the teenage son of a high-profile politician circulating in cyberspace has definitely bought a new low in the level of civility and decency in our public square.

In the past few years, we have witnessed a disturbing trend in our public space where maligning the name of high-profile politicians has become the only game in town. What is more disturbing was the fact that a Member of Parliament approved of such tactics because this was started by those on the other side of the aisle!

I’m appalled that this MP can make such a public remark. Is this a signal of what is to come in our political realm? That decency and civility has no place in politics. All that matters is scoring political points using whatever tactics it takes to ensure that mud sticks to the name of the person involved. And if it means involving family members as well, why so much the better!

I wonder how politicians from the earlier generation would view the state of affairs that is happening today. I suspect they would have been appalled and ashamed by the level to which our politics has sunk.

What is extremely distressing about this trend is that it serves to distract us from the real substance of politics. Politics is about finding solutions to issues that affect all Malaysians through public and rational discussion whether in Dewan Rakyat or in cyberspace. It is not meant to be used for personal political gains.

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Rather than going after each other by slinging mud, perhaps it would be more productive for our politicians to spend more of their time highlighting the plight of ordinary Malaysians.

The rising cost of living, increasing communal tension and the degradation of the environment among others should be high on the agenda of our YBs rather than thumping tables and catcalling to show partisan support in the Dewan Rakyat while engaging in gutter politics outside the august hall.

As representatives of the people, they have a moral duty to uphold decency and civility in the public rather than letting it degenerate into a free for all in the name of scoring personal political gains.

Perhaps our YBs would do well to remind themselves that they are public servants whose job it is to ensure the welfare of all Malaysians by focusing on public issues rather than personal political gains. In fact that is why they were voted into Parliament in the first place.

Christopher Chong is an Aliran member

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