Reconsidering elected representatives | Selangor Times
Issue 118


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Reconsidering elected representatives
Writer: Fahmi Fadzil
Published: Fri, 19 Oct 2012

What is the role of a member of Parliament? A state assemblyperson (ADUN)? A local councillor? 

And where is the citizen in this superstructure of modern organisation called democracy?

These are some questions that I believe Malaysians must face in order to overcome the illiteracy in democracy which I strongly believe is crippling our nation.

As my esteemed readers may or may not know, for the past two years I have been working for and with the MP for Lembah Pantai, which is one of 11 parliamentary constituencies in the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur. 

In these past two years, which seems a lifetime if my swiftly greying hair is anything to go by, I have learned more than a bit about the inner and outer workings of politics on many levels of society. 

And while I pretty much jumped into the deep end of the political pool and quickly learned how to swim (or rather, not sink), I found that I was still ill-equipped to really understand how things worked. 

I did wish that there was some sort of primer, some kind of 101 manual that could have been handed so that I could quickly learn what to do, what to avoid, and to understand where everything stood when you took a step back and looked at the bigger picture.

Today, when I am asked why hasn’t the MP done something about the potholes, or rubbish, or missing street lights, I can confidently say that actually that’s not what the MP is there for. If one is in KL, one must quickly contact DBKL at either its hotline (1-800-88-3255) or visit its website to lodge an e-complaint. If one is in PJ, it would be via MBPJ or the local councillors - i.e. local government.

In other words, I have come to understand that an MP and ADUN is really elected to listen to the rakyat, to look at the bigger picture and why things are currently not working so well, and to propose systemic changes to the superstructure through promulgating new laws or reforming current ones.

Yet we are still under the impression that MPs and ADUNs are like “Swiss Army knives” - multi-purpose miracle tools to solve all problems.

Perhaps it’s because we have been raised with such expectations all these years. 

Perhaps not much has been systematically done to change the perception that people have about the role of elected representatives. 

Perhaps it has much to do with the fact that some 60 per cent of Malaysians are living with a household income of RM3,000 and below - and when we see many of these MPs or ADUNs with means (which might have been the fruits of their own hard work… or otherwise), it is not unnatural to inquire how our lot might be made better. Quickly.

Fundamentally, I believe it is a question of economics, and more specifically our current political-economic regime.

I believe that if we are able to fundamentally and permanently raise the household incomes of Malaysians, we will begin to see a shift in the dynamics of our political economy.

To put it simply, we will rely on elected lawmakers to do the work they are entrusted to do: make good laws.

And while the prognosis is much agreed by both sides of the aisle, the manner in which the goal of uplifting our common condition is being achieved is structurally divergent, if we are to look at the latest Budgets proposed by both Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat - the former is looking at quick, temporary, and ultimately expensive fixes such as BR1M2.0 for the purposes of winning the next election, while the latter is focused on holistic reforms to undo debilitating cronyistic practices.

I hope that one day Malaysians will be able to appreciate the role that each and every citizen has to play, in order to make a better Malaysia a reality for all.


 Selangor Times



Also by Fahmi Fadzil:

Awaiting local, federal elections

THE Malaysian political scene feels like it fits right in with the work of absurdist playwright Beckett’s play entitled ‘Waiting for Godot’, where two characters – Vladimir and Estragon – wait patiently for the arrival of Godot, who never arrives.

New beginnings

Farewell 2012, Hello 13GE

WHAT a year it has been! Who would’ve thought that much of these past 11 months would have sped by with such ferocity?

The day after...

In my last article, I wrote about the need to imagine the hours, days, weeks, and months following the 13th General Election (a most enigmatic event, whose precise date is and will forever be a mystery... until it is called!). 

Change must come but not with violence

A few days ago, I read an article by Liew Chin Tong, the MP for Bukit Bendera, entitled “The Last Mile” (The Rocket, July 2, 2012).

Let’s keep thuggery out

I have been working for Nurul Izzah and Parti Keadilan Rakyat since October 2010.

Cleaner, freer, fairer, better

It’s been a good nine months since the epic Bersih 2.0 rally of July 2011. I still remember the days that came before that mammoth gathering - the tension, the stress, the uncertainties, and most of all: the unyielding desire of the rakyat for free and fair elections - and realize that, given the special circumstance that we are in today what with polls being weeks or months away, those thunderous days may not be repeated verbatim.

Tale of two gatherings

This past week saw several different yet, from my point of view, important gatherings of people standing up for what they believe in. I want to write a little bit about two gatherings in particular, and highlight what we may (hopefully) learn from each.

Of sacred cows and secret condos

It’s been a while since my last article appeared in Selangor Times - things have been moving a tad bit faster than usual; even now I’m writing in between completing other tasks, but no matter.

What a year!

“Buka tutup buka tutup mata, dah habis satu tahun.”

TTDI residents ready for futsal 'match'

A few Fridays ago, I received an email from my neighbourhood security-watch committee about a new project that had suddenly mushroomed in our little corner of Taman Tun Dr Ismail: a futsal court.

Neighbourhoods under siege

OF late I’ve been thinking a lot about neighbourhoods – all these places where we grew up, started our own families, and basically watched the nation go by.

Cleaner, fairer, better?

PRACTICALLY everyone who is reading this already knows about the July 9 rally organised by the Bersih 2.0 coalition. I believe that many of us were there on the streets on that historic day.

Maafkan kami

I’m not sure if you’ve been following the news, but earlier in June I was kind of in the news as I had to apologise for some things that I had tweeted in January.

Times of change

Of late, we’ve been inundated with talk about withdrawal of subsidies and subsequently the change in the price of sugar, RON95, gas, electricity, etc – some of which has happened, and some of which (for whatever economic or political reason) has not.

Sarawak, show us the way

The recent Sarawak state elections were such a learning experience for many Malaysians. Irrespective of whether we were active participants in the political battles on the ground, or just curious observers reading the news on Twitter, it is clear that Sarawak – and the rest of the country – can never be the same again.

The Malaysian resistance

These are “artistic impressions” of thoughts circumambulating the increasingly controversial Mass Rapid Transit (MRT)
project. I chose to say “increasingly controversial” because we all know we need this infrastructure and thus any opposition to it appears to reject a very public need.











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