Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob has dropped the clearest hint yet that the 15th general election (GE15) will be held very soon.
How ‘very soon’? Judging from his enthusiasm when he gave the hint two days ago, Ismail Sabri could well get the King’s consent to dissolve Parliament a few days after presenting the 2023 Budget on Oct 7.
“We are very close to the election. I will set the date with the (Umno) president. Trust me, just wait a little while longer. I hear your calls clearly,” the prime minister said during the launch of the Barisan Nasional Youth election machinery on Sept 17.
He made it clear that the date will be decided by him and Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, the Umno chief.
GE15 will see an addition of 7.8 million new young voters which is a tremendous increase – from 14.9 million in GE14 to 22.7 million in GE15. And it has been estimated that out of the total number of voters four million are 21 years old and below.
The ruling coalition as well as the opposition will be focusing on these young voters. Where their votes will go is hard to predict; therefore all parties will spend considerable effort and time to woo voters in this bracket.
Promises and pledged will be made – some realistic and achievable while others preposterous. Knowing some politicians, they will even promise the moon. But it’s all up to these new young voters to decide. Hopefully they will vote with their brain, not their heart.
So, what are the expectations of voters from their parliamentarians? Different people have different expectations. My expectations are very simple. Honestly, I don’t expect much – just be there when I need you!
As a newsmen, I might want to verify certain facts and figures. So when I call, I expect my MP to answer his handphone and not pretend that his device is not ringing.
I know of some politicians who are all ears before elections; they will even take the trouble to call me and ask if anything is amiss or if I am okay. Believe me, I am not exaggerating!
No sooner had they been elected than they soon disappear from sight, making you wonder if some gangsters had kidnapped them for ransom. Their calls go unanswered; sometimes their phones are switched off. Okay, understandable. They might have been exhausted after the punishing campaigns, and they might have to rest. But weeks later still not reachable?
There was one YB who used to meet me over breakfast regularly before the last state polls. After the election, he didn’t call me and when I called, he either didn’t pick up the calls, or he just answered briefly, “Brother, I am busy lah! I will call you back.” But even after the cows came home there were no calls from him, until months later when I moved to Kuala Lumpur – and that was in February, two months after the state election!
Aaaah! Some people! They don’t appreciate your friendship. Which is why I said all I want from my elected representative is just be there when I need you! I don’t need money. I don’t want any projects. I don’t want you to buy my plane ticket! Or I don’t want you to help me book a condominium!
Since GE15 is round the corner I rehash here excerpts of the findings of a survey conducted for the Global Parliamentary Report (GPR) on the role of parliamentarians.
“It is clear that constituency service is important both to citizens and politicians. It is an accepted and expected part of the job. Numerous opinion polls in different regions suggest that the public believes that some form or the other of constituency service is the most important part of an MP’s role, while MPs themselves no doubt see the benefit of meeting voters’ needs for various reasons, not least to improve their chances of re-election.
“Parliamentarians consider law-making to be their most important role (52.3 per cent of respondents), followed by holding government to account (17.2 per cent) and solving constituents’ problems (12.5 per cent).
“When asked what they think citizens see as their most important role, however, the story is very different. Parliamentarians believe that, in the eyes of the citizen, solving citizens’ problems is the parliamentarian’s most important role (36.4 per cent), followed by law-making (20.3 per cent), holding government to account (16.2 per cent) and promoting the interests and economy of their constituency (13.1 per cent).”
My friend has his own expectations from the candidate if the latter wants his and his family’s votes in the coming general election.
He lists two expectations: one, the MP must turun padang when the people are faced with issues so that he can understand the issues first-hand, and two, the MP must have a realistic goal for his constituency for the people to judge his performance, and not wait until close to the next election and start tarring the roads or streets to show he’s doing something.
My only hope is that come GE15, voters will all vote wisely and choose an MP that they will be proud of. Remember, use your brain, and not your heart!
The views expressed here are those of the columnist and do not necessarily represent the views of New Sarawak Tribune.