Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Character is a legitimate political issue, especially in a Prime Minister.

Politics needs psychology right now. The choice of the next Prime Minister and Federal Government can destroy or advance peace and harmony , given the power of this government at home managing a multi racial society like Malaysia. To choose leaders, Malaysian citizens need direct and confirmed knowledge of the psychology of real political judgments.
It is ironic that the public's current political despair could actually wake up their rational attention. But that is a tough challenge to the candidates and journalists. Evidence is clear that public opinion these days is a downer; a majority of citizens rate Putrajaya., as a rotten town--a government failing to govern right. That negative evaluation and resulting fear is not a fantasy. These are all attributed to the hate and smear campaigns plan and executed by Pakatan Rakyat.The greatest psychological danger this year is apathy, washed into our brains by propaganda selling placidity--gentling the citizens into looking down at the snakes rather than looking up at the stars . Opposition parties politics are full of trouble? Okay, some say, to hell with it; just let some quiet master sweep worry into his closet so we can forget about it.
But fear can generate action. This year, angered citizens may wake up and pay attention to the campaign for states and federal governments. Given democracy as consent of the governed, citizens should dutifully anticipate next coming election term as a time for their country's top choice, and thus feel the responsibility to develop their decisions rationally. A good place to start is with the news: read about the candidates, watch them, listen to talk about current politics while driving to work. Read blogs..Try hard.

News about states and federal candidates is being reported by smart and ambitious journalists, many of whom recognize the challenge to make reality interesting. Unlike professors, journalists have to lure the attention of citizens voluntarily, rather than assigning students to study for a test. Journalists can do that luring wrong especially when it involves candidates from the opposition parties as reported by their own medias. They accused the ruling government medias as distorting facts but in actual fact, in their own medias, they are doing worse.

Yet news about the candidates can also be complex and hard to understand. The candidates themselves tend to talk bureaucratically. Reporters often search for fresh varieties. Too often that hope for surprise generates obscure warps and sparks the reader can't catch. For example, in political writings , candidates address the reader with a language they already understand, but which the readers do not . No wonder then that candidates have to shift from news complexity to advertising simplicity, since ads are designed to register in the minds of average lookers. And no wonder that journalists themselves pick up news from the ads. Given the mind of the citizen, the science of the ad-maker, and the speed of the news worker, a heavy temptation reaches forth: simplification. When we say ads, we mean banners, posters as well as blogs and Facebook postings.

Confused voters may naturally lapse over into the morals they do understand. What does "deficit" mean? The citizen probably does not know. What does “adultery” mean? The citizen does know. Therefore morals can replace politics, with voters leaning onto the simpler question of virtue rather than the harder question of policy. The malady is failure to concentrate on how the candidate's morals-or lack there-of-relate to the candidate's potential governing, not potential sanctity. Example, in the case of Anwar Ibrahim. There really are moral problems relevant to ruling.

 Back in the late 1960s, for instance, one MP  spoke straight to Tunku Abdul Rahman:

"All of us, whether we're in politics or not, have weaknesses. For some, it's drinking. For others, it's gambling. For still others, it's women. None of these weaknesses applies to you. Your weakness is credibility."

 True--and relevant. Tunku Abdul Rahman credibility was a political disaster. But should a Prime Minister have been defeated because he drank brandy? Should a candidate  have defeated Anwar because Anwar warped into afternoon athletic adultery and homosexuality? Would the best reason for rejecting a candidate have been that he liked gambling?  But as a former politician from a socialist party points out these days:

Character is a legitimate political issue, especially in a Prime Minister. If we have a Prime Minister with personal problems that seriously diminished his public judgment and power to govern effectively. But the campaign is actually neglecting the qualities of character that relate most directly to the capacity to govern.We should learn about these problems before they are elected, not afterward. Just look at how bad Anwar responded towards the reporter who asked him about the Omega watch.

Prime Minister character does not mean simple morals. The focus should be on major morals--morals for political power affecting Malaysians from all walk of life. The challenge is to find out the personal qualities which will shape the Putrajaya operation--a particular, distinctive job, the results of which are significant. Therefore the lapse over into simple, ordinary, familiar morals is a psychological mistake for the citizen, who naturally hungers for political simplicity.

Beware ! Anwar Ibrahim is not a suitable candidate to be future Malaysian Prime Minister because character is a legitimate political issue, especially in a Prime Minister.

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