Compulsive politics

Politics have no relations to morals.

Niccolo Machiavelli, Italian diplomat

It is an inexorable fact that one of the serious penalties the concerned citizenry will face when they fail to participate in everyday politics is to be ruled and governed by inferiors. The great Greek scholar Plato’s warning still rings true today when everyone takes to social media to hyperventilate to the hilt.

The compulsion to rule and govern is an addiction at best, and an incurable disease at worst. Will Rogers was at his best when he quipped that when you inject truth into politics you have no politics. Machiavelli thus had a point concerning morals and politics. Two extremes in one straight line is too bizarre.

Why does the citizenry accept this drivel that drives everyone up the wall while lamenting about the next elections? That is nothing short of compulsive obedience to gutter politics. Ask the leader of the Malaysian Opposition in the 1980s when he sued the government over an illegal and unfair contract that was awarded to one of the then ruling political party’s companies.

At [1988] 2 MLJ 12 we read with despair that the apex court in a 3-2 decision decided that the Federal Constitution is subservient to parliamentary supremacy, especially when the former is the undisputed supreme law of the land. Compulsive politics overruled a pliant judiciary which prides itself with judicial independence.

Compulsive politics makes the “prevention of corruption” a metaphor hidden in a puzzle packaged as a mystery. There ought to be compulsive judicial obedience for the enforcement of Section 2 (1) of the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance No.22 of 1970 which provides adequate and necessary punishment for federal ministers and other members of the administration who commit corrupt practices.

The power of pardon needs to be infrequent and slow to ensure proper enforcement of penalties and punishments for the commission of corrupt practices as a deterrent and a detergent to better governance with total accountability and transparency. This should the compulsion in politics.

One of the most unfortunate truths ever expounded was that by Mark Twain that “once in a while an innocent man is sent to the Congress.” Must you be dirty and crooked when you enter politics? Don’t the voters see it, or do they see it with a Nelson’s eye? It’s absurdly exasperating.

Sadhguru summed it up wisely, as always: “Renunciation essentially means you are working towards your freedom, from compulsiveness to consciousness.” But this may not work for a career politician. The consciousness of any politician anywhere in the world is one of self-preservation and self-interest.

So, should compulsive politics be a worry, a gnawing pain, an agonising fact of life when it condones instead of punishing? This state of affairs allows the granting of special provisions for the breaking of rules and laws, breaching treaties and covenants and violating oaths of office. It seems to have become a fact of life.

And then there is the power of unleashing weapons of mass distractions. When a major scandal is surfacing, red herrings are scurrying about trying to take the focus away from the obvious. People power to get to the bottom of the matter is usually fraught with futility.

Arab Springs, the Occupy Movements, Yellow Shirts, Red Shirts and Saffron Revolutions symbolise people power to destroy compulsive politics, but it is usually short-lived and fizzles away when the people in power flex their muscles using the army and/or the police. The Bersih Protests saw a different light when it seemed to have gained some ground in semi-permanency.

Election results are merely a temporary reminder that someone representing a political party won a seat in the legislature. Compulsive politics levies a heavy toll when party hopping becomes the specialty of the day. Conscience, loyalty, allegiance, and integrity – totally lacking in politicians’ DNA – go into overdrive and a permanent vacation.

The American Revolution in 1776 was a great inspiration to taming compulsive politics which saw a bitter end when the French Revolution epitomised the guillotine. People power took on a totally different trajectory. Compulsive politics took a furlough of sorts. The stage was set for a newer and fresher approach to compulsive politics.

“What is politics, after all, but the compulsion to preside over property and make other peoples’ decisions for them? Liberty, the very opposite of ownership and control, cannot, then, result from political action, either at the polls or the barricades, but rather evolves out of attitude,” said Tom Robbins.

The views expressed here are those of the columnist and do not necessarily represent the views of New Sarawak Tribune. 

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