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When character trumps race

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We need leaders who can pull together and harness the best from all of us, not those who play on race and fear, writes K Haridas.

What was happening as we watched the wayang kuit (shadow play) in the jostling to take over the prime minister’s position was a deepening of ethnic divides.

It seems loyalty to one’s race is more important than loyalty to being a Malaysian. This is not bringing us together. Many are disillusioned and dejected.

All institutions will have a measure of politics, but political parties need to weigh the level of significance given to political loyalties in terms of personalities and the cause for which they are in politics.

It is all right to have loyalty to Azmin Ali while he was in Pakatan Harapan. However, the moment he was removed by the party, and he joined another party, the bridge was crossed. Loyalty to him then means nothing. He made a statement and a stand.

Those who were with him left with him. What does this signify? That they are bigger than the electorate who elected them. Ultimately, all politicians have a fundamental loyalty, and this should remain with the electorate.

When they betray this loyalty, they betray themselves and their integrity. Others who did not leave with him have to undertake serious reflection and take a stand. Silence is not an option.

I went out and voted for them because of the manifesto and what they stand for. I am not interested in the internal politics and the warlords to whom they want to remain faithful. Do so, but when a warlord deserts the party, the loyalty to him or her should cease. The politician’s loyalty and promises to voters take precedence.

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This is why I would be distressed by my own MP if it is true she did not vote for her party president as the nominee for prime minister, thus letting me and others down as well. I hope this is not true.

The nation is bigger than MPs’ party loyalties. Some of these MPs have failed to live up to voters’ expectations.  Whatever PKR vice-president Tian Chua may say, it is all rationalisation and justification because we, the people, and our interests are not considered.

We, the electorate, voted for reforms and change based on Buku Harapan, the Pakatan Harapan manifesto. Anything else is backdoor manipulation by politicians. Such politicians are individuals whose character has to be examined. Consider the Barisan Nasional and Pas MPs and you may wonder what they stand for apart from race, religion and loyalty. They are only interested in one race.

Is this a valid cause in politics in this day and age? What voters are looking for is how we tackle issues like poverty, inequality, injustice and fairness.

Race, religion and royalty are not issues that bedevil the public. These represent identity issues that bankrupt politicians play up to secure votes.

How can politicians from Sabah and Sarawak vote for BN and Pas? Do they still believe in the promises made by such charlatans? By playing on race, politicians continue to pull this nation apart.

Can we continue to trust these leaders after all they have done? We need politicians who have character, and many might say this is in short supply. Admittedly, we have to consider the manifesto that brought people into power. This exemplifies the trust factor between voters and their MP both in a personal sense and in the context of the party.

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My own MP, through her silence, has failed us, and I for one will not vote for her despite aher activist credentials as long as her loyalty to her party president and to the voters is in doubt. Her decision should have reflected the wishes of “we, the people“, who voted for her.

All our politicians are exhibiting their character on stage, and we voters must call their bluff and rate them according to how we see them so they can have a clear picture how voters perceive them. In a world where trust deficit levels are high, let us not allow characterless politicians to play with our future.

By your action, you define yourself because action is knowledge lived out. It is a measure of your sincerity and trust. Trust is never a mere belief; it is the practice of honesty and integrity lived out. We are objectively measuring these MPs by their actions. By their actions, they define the levels of their character.

In this plural society and multicultural nation, we need leaders who can pull together and harness the best from all of us, not those who play on race and fear. This is Leadership with Integrity and the basis for Ethical Leadership that is now critical for our nation.

Anything else will wreck this nation, and so let us be clear about those exhibiting selfish interests at the expense of the nation.

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