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Wanted: Politicians who are competent social analysts

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Is it not the unequal distribution of power in society that has created a wide gap between the rich and the poor, which in turn has contributed to the increase in crime and corruption? Analysing these issues requires politicians who are competent social analysts, says Ronald Benjamin.

Income inequality widens over the years

The general election is around the corner and there has been a lot of political activity among politicians to garner support among the people.

Various ways have been used to obtain support,such as photo sessions in the media, ethnic-oriented programmes, allocations for flood victims, and allocations to various temples,mosque and churches.

While public relations exercises are part of political activity, they are not balanced with issues of depth especially critical social issues plaguing the Malaysian community. Crime and corruption are basically exposed because it has strong political leverage, but there is no attempt by politicians to analyse corruption at its structural source and to educate Malaysians to reject a particular political and economic system that has contributed to the increase in crime.

Is it not the unequal distribution of power in society that has created a wide gap between the rich and the poor, which in turn has contributed to the increase in crime and corruption? To focus on these issues would require politicians who are competent social analysts. The reality is there are only a cream of politicians who belong to the political left who are seriously concerned about these issues.

Those in the political right, made up of ethnic and religious-based based parties, are merely concerned about ethnic issues that would help them win elections or about social solutions that offer simplistic solutions such as allocations of financial aid or moral policing.

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The quality of a true politician is reflected in statesman-like behaviour, where the concern and solutions for social issues should be a priority. Is it not the understanding and the resolving of complex social issues that makes a politician truly competent? It is only by analysing social situations that a relevant political and economic order can be created.

The social ills facing Malaysia today are rooted in the neglect of the interests of common citizens who make up the majority. The majority of families are suffering from the high cost of living due to the BN government-approved private monopolistic nature of control of essential goods.

Due to low income, parents have to work long hours to support their families and this has contributed to social ills among the young. The cost of living has doubled over the years, and the so-called RM900 minimum wage is inadequate.

Crime has gone up because many youths are unemployed due to a lack of skills or ethnic prejudices that makes their upward social mobility an uphill battle.

In the back drop, private colleges have mushroomed catering mainly to the rich. Or else there are the PTPTN loans, which lead to debt among the young at a very early age.

Does not all this shows that the majority of politicians have neglected to address the socio-economic structure of our society?Allocations of RM500 will not solve a problem that is basically structural.
It is therefore vital for Malaysians to reject political leaders from the corporate and elitist religious establishment who continue to leverage on irrational ethno-religious issues. Instead, Malaysians should politicians who have a spiritual world view that embraces a political system that is genuinely rooted in addressing socio-economic issues.

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Unless Malaysians are able to evaluate politicians based on their social credentials and competence, we will continue to elect politicians who continue to fool the Malaysian population with emotional sentiments that do not correspond to social realities.

Ronald Benjamin, a human resources practitioner, is an Aliran member based in Ipoh.

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