Pick a 'budiman' this election

Emeritus Professor Tan Sri Dato' Dzulkifli Abdul Razak
Opinion - New Straits Times
November 16, 2022


The 15th General Election (GE15) presents a dilemma. The majority of voters are undecided despite casting their ballots several times. This time, there seems to be an intense uncertainty at almost all levels.

It is likened to taking a long trip into the unknown. So, how to navigate the GE15? Here are some suggestions:

First, discount those who are heavily advertised or publicised, especially for the immediate past office-holders. This is because they have had five years or a number of years, at least, to advertise or popularise themselves.

If they did their duties well by regularly tending to their constituencies and engaging with members of the community, there is virtually no need for oversized posters and billboards littering the community.

If not, it is too late. By now, they should already be household names.

Some may argue that the targets are new voters, especially the 18-year-old first-timers.

But, not only are these voters relatively few in number, they are also among the most curious and informed when it comes to things that benefit their interest.

Let us not underestimate young voters, who are subtler in pursuing their goals.

Second, stay away from those who are out for revenge for whatever reason. A general election, more so democracy, is not intended to personally punish so-called traitors.

Democracy is about picking the best or right choice for the benefit of the larger community. It is not the time to settle scores.

Although, at times, betrayal can be inevitable when a trust-deficit is at an all-time high, as political relations turn sour. For example, by remaining loyal in such a situation can also mean a betrayal to the people who were promised differently.

Illusory loyalty to a thing, whether a party, a person or a way of doing thing conventionally, is to shun flexibility in meeting the complex or chaotic needs of the future.

Third is the fly-by-night candidates. Those chasing pipe dreams for personal benefit, only to hop to another constituency on another lofty pretext.

Such a cycle continues at the expense of the people's welfare and wellbeing. So, be aware!

Fourth, the search of a budiman. The root word is budi, directed to a person of highest decorum, integrity and etiquette.

It is all encompassing, beginning with speech, choice of words and politeness — budi bahasa. Then, translated into action and deeds as the noblest — budi pekerti, which culminates in budi bicara — to arrive at justice, fairness and equity.

It is vital in shaping a peaceful state of holistic being, as the gracious outcome of a genuine budiman.

Meaning, a leader in his/her own right without having to resort to any partisan political views, rightly or wrongly. This can be easily discerned from the conventional parliamentarian proceedings where the budiman readily stands out above the rest.

Lastly, following from the above, it is about being humble and more humane in serving the people.

It informs us that the leadership is very engaged with the people and takes the mandate acquired through GE15 seriously.

There are not too many of them since the present democratic process tends to gravitate towards millionaires with an arrogant mindset that everything has a price, and thus can be bought.

Otherwise, what are the millions of ringgit for, as stated in the asset declarations of some GE15 candidates?

Those without the millions are generally marginalised, especially in a monetarily-greased democracy!

Yet, they could be "richer" in various other ways that money cannot buy. Vote wisely.

The writer, an NST columnist for more than 20 years, is International Islamic University Malaysia rector

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of the New Straits Times