Ten years ago, I had a nightmare that this is how the political system works.
If you want to contribute to the country at the decision-making level, you must first join a political party. You must be loyal to the party and you must adhere to ONLY its goals.
You then must learn to compromise all your personal principles to climb up the ladder in the party. It is critical that you focus only on pleasing your few thousand party member’s wishes or their “created wishes” s as opposed to the rest of the population’s needs. At party level, the people do not count. Only party members and more importantly the party leadership’s wishes (which leadership you are ultimately hoping to displace to be replaced by you). Until you displace the party leadership, you must project yourself as its uno numero supporter.
You must not work with or acknowledge the contributions, if any, of other political parties. This is called party disloyalty. If your party is in power, it is called “treachery to the people”. You must exaggerate its faults and if you have to, then trivialize its achievements. This is called political pragmatism and expediency.
You must never, especially publicly, disagree with your party leadership. This called party discipline or party whip.
Then you must learn how to sensationalize, give speeches at the top of your voice, project yourself as an ultra of some sort (approved by your party of course). Topics? Does not matter but it will help if it is something “sensitive”. Being in politics, you will have immunity compared to the ordinary folks. There is honour among thieves, sorry I mean politicians.
Hopefully, by then your party members and especially the leadership at the moment takes notice of you. It is a question of either you are instrumental to their political survival or you are such a pain that it is considered best to have you on their side. This is of course the risky road that the more ambitious ones take.
The less ambitious ones can just tag along and chorus the leadership while bringing along loads of tissue paper to wipe off all the licking. The chorus is always the most exciting one in a choir even if they not the main singer.
You must at all costs have more than sufficient funds to climb the party ladder because the party members will not come to listen to you speak unless you provide them food in a comfortable hotel. Well, even in the outdoors, you will incur lots of expenses. So, middle income and lower income folks, better forget about helping to shape the nation though politics. No, sorry, your capability and fervor without finance is not going to assist you. No! Just stick to your dream of paying off part of your housing loan before you kick the bucket.
Now this part is the most important. Propaganda. Image building. You must learn to create public occasions where you can be seen and heard. You must get people to talk about you, write about you, photograph you. Give awards, receive awards. Whatever.
Keep repeating what you have to say even if it does not make sense to you. Sooner or later, people will believe it especially if some academic discusses it over television or in a seminar. You have to keep spinning. If you ever think you cannot spin anymore, then spin the spin. You will be surprised what sense they make of your nonsense. Then you can pretend that’s what you meant in the first place.
Remember always that there are many innocent, sincere people out there for you to dupe. These ordinary folks are so busy struggling to make ends meet, they have no time to think about what you are saying or doing. Being a leader, they will readily assume you must be right. If they think you are wrong, then they must either be a subversive or a traitor to the nation or they must be from the other party with vested interests. Either way, you as a politician is always right.
It will help if you can organize someone to criticize you but make sure great rebuttals are in store. Get someone from the middle income or lower income or someone facing a middle age crisis but going nowhere to help you on this. They will oblige, They need the money and/or the recognition.
If you can do all this, then you have changed so radically from the first time you entered politics that you will not be able to recognize yourself anymore. This is the stage where you will be anointed as the uno numero by your party. You have succeeded politically.
Then your party will have to outdo all the other parties in the general Election. Have convenient electoral pacts with whoever can help you win. Smear the other side all you can. Praise your side. Yes, including the members of your electoral pact even if you have never seen eye to eye for the past 100 years. Forget truth and honour. This is politics. People love dreams and hopes. Give it to them. Why do you think Hollywood and Bollywood movies are doing so well? Your party must win for your sake, I mean the people’s sake.
If your party wins, you now become uno numero in the country. Now, all you have to be concerned with is how you would like your legacy to be remembered. Yes. You can orchestrate that too. And later, how to dismount the tiger. Anyway, after you are long gone, they will sing songs about you in the interest of the party struggle’s continuity. Believe it or not, they will even have seminars after seminars in your name and speak about your thoughts which you never thought about while you were alive.
THEN I WOKE UP.
Thank God it was just a nightmare. Thank God! That’s not how our political system is. How different our country is. We have self sacrificing politicians. Our leaders are committed to the people. Look at them. By serving the people, they only live on the meager salary they receive. We have informed and responsible citizens. We do not expect our party leadership to provide anything for us. We only want them to govern the nation for the people’s general good. And that’s exactly what they do.
We do not have Opposition parties. We do not have Government-in-waiting Parties. We have Complementary Parties.
Look at our Parliament and you can well see how they debate graciously and passionately in the people’s interest. They stay up late nights to study bills. That is why every time there is a parliamentary sitting, you see all the MPs with bags under their eyes – not enough sleep.
In fact we all bring our own food and drinks when we attend party gatherings. In fact we do that even when we go to other party gatherings in which we are not even members. We even contribute from our salaries towards party activities. We never forget that each of us in our own way want to serve the nation. It does not matter to us who is in power for we are such caring, sharing, religious and loving Malaysians. We put national interest above party interests. We have Asian values. We detest western values.
Our leaders are capable of multi-dimensional thinking. Upright, firm, compassionate, intelligent, totally clean, selfless, transparent, accountable, approachable by anyone, efficient.
We have a great political system that needs no reform. It has worked well for the past 50 years. We did not inherit it from anyone. It is a Malaysian created system. That’s why we have total faith in all politicians.
That is why politicking is our major preoccupation. Thank God we are Malaysians.
And being all these, would God not be on our side? Surely we will be free from God’s wrath?
Thank God….I am a country boy. Well, that’s a song from John Denver who wears Gandhi-like glasses.