No personal resources? Better don’t contest

Date:

The difficulty now is going out and raising money. Spending 80 percent of your time begging for money — it’s so debilitating on a candidate.

Douglas Muzzio, American educator

The most interesting incident to emerge out of our 12th Sarawak state election so far has to be the one involving a potential candidate and Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB).

This is the first time that I’ve heard of a candidate alleging that his party had wanted him to sign a “loan agreement” with a “money lender” in order to obtain election funds.

“I was forced but refused when I was asked to sign agreements with a ‘money lender’ company to finance my campaign.

“This would have severely damaged my reputation with my dear electorates. It is also against my Islamic beliefs to sign such agreements,” claimed Datuk Seri Abang Aditajaya Abang Alwi.

I think this is quite a serious allegation and Abang Aditajaya did the right thing by requesting the authorities to probe such a practice.

PSB has denied all allegations made by the former member, as it rightly should.

I have never heard of Abang Aditajaya and this queer episode has made him famous. Even Astro Awani covered his announcement ceremony that he was going to contest the Kuala Rajang seat as an Independent. Few Independent candidates are able to get such a coverage.

The subject of financing an election campaign is an interesting one. The allegation by Abang Aditajaya is probably one way for ‘desperate’ candidates to raise funds, and a most silly one at that.

If people really turn to borrowing money to fund their election campaigns, I feel very sorry for them.

Let me repeat my advice: If you do not have some personal resources, do not contest, lah! Only a paloi (fool) will borrow from Ah Long to contest in an election.

Let me say this again. I’m actually keen to know how many paloi Sarawakians there are who would go out to borrow money just to be an election candidate, and with little or no chance to emerge the winner.

The Sarawak polls next month is expected to see a motley of some 300 candidates who will file their nomination papers to contest the 82 seats up for grabs.

When I hear certain candidates declaring their intention to enter the fray again after having obtained a measly 200 votes in their previous outings, losing their deposits in the process, I do not know whether to laugh at them or to cry for them.

Well, I suppose there are people who enjoy contesting, and they will do so come every election, never mind if their chances of victory is zero. Contesting in an election has become a hobby for some, or so it seems.

Seriously, if they have RM5,000 (deposit to contest a state seat) to throw away, I would suggest that they take their family for a vacation. The children would cherish family holidays for life.

It is almost certain that there will be multi-cornered fights in many seats come PRN12 because there are people who are adamant about contesting as they think they are the better candidate.

Personal glorification is a normal human reaction perhaps, but one that is totally selfish and lacking the team spirit. Are we surprised to see DAP and PKR squabbling over overlapping seats again?

This happened before every election and even if they know that fielding candidates against each other will benefit their common adversary, they will continue to do so. Ego and pride take precedence over other interests, including the voters’.

Now, let me be blunt and ask all these wannabe candidates: So, you want to contest? Do you have the money?

I make no apologies for bringing up the subject of money. Can any serious candidate honestly tell me that they do not need funds, and lots of it, for the elections?

Gone are the days when politicians could win by riding on their popularity and charisma alone. These days, no money, no talk.

Someone commented on an earlier article on election funding, writing: “Money is the mother’s milk of politics. It must keep flowing. Without the financial and human resources, don’t even consider being a candidate at all.”

And I must add today. If you win, you need even more money to look after your constituents. If you lack personal resources, chances are you will turn into a political frog.

So, think carefully before you file your nomination papers on Dec 6.

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

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