It is not in the nature of politics that the best men should be elected. The best men do not want to govern their fellowmen. – George MacDonald, Scottish author

What are your expectations from your parliamentarians and state assemblymen? What should be their role as a wakil rakyat?

I am asking because the 12th state election is around the corner. Also, there are lingering talks of a snap general election but which I think is not likely in the next few months.

Different constituents have different expectations. Allow me to produce excerpts of the findings of a survey conducted for the Global Parliamentary Report (GPR), a document prepared by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on the role of parliamentarians.

Excerpts of the GPR survey:

“It is clear that constituency service is important both to citizens and politicians — indeed; 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% of respondents), followed by holding government to account (17.2%) and solving constituents’ problems (12.5%).

“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%), followed by law-making (20.3%), holding government to account (16.2%) and promoting the interests and economy of their constituency (13.1%).”

Well, I believe many constituents in this country would say solving problems is their wakil rakyat’s most important role. Next important role might be holding the government accountable. Next could be law-making, etc etc.

But I have my own expectations from our wakil rakyat for the coming state polls if they want to continue securing my vote, my family’s votes and the numerous votes of my relatives.

I am not going to be captivated by fiery speeches and promises that will never see the light of day. This coming election I will be casting my precious vote based on facts and not sweet words or promises or a manifesto that will only be half-fulfilled (I have learned a bitter lesson, no thanks to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad).

Okay, my expectations from my wakil rakyat:

  • My wakil rakyat must be approachable and available after election. I have heard stories from friends that their representatives hardly answer calls. As soon as they are elected, they disappear from sight only to re-emerge much latter. Believe it or not, no sooner had they been elected than they quickly change their mobile phone numbers. I personally have experienced. This is disgusting to say the least. The least they could do is to hire one or two dedicated staff to handle their calls.
  • My wakil rakyat must be prepared to meet the constituents regularly. Not just during occasions when a premises gets razed to the ground, or when someone gets married or dies (these unfortunate incidents don’t happen daily).     
  • My wakil rakyat must be prepared to personally listen to anyone who approaches him. It doesn’t matter how trivial the issue is. He must treat everyone equally, regardless of skin colour.
  • My wakil rakyat must have a realistic goal for his constituency for us to judge his performance. Tell us what you have for us or what you will do over the next five years. Don’t wait until close to the next election and start tarring the roads or streets to show you are doing something.
  • My wakil rakyat must stay away from corruption. I don’t need to elaborate, do I?
  • My wakil rakyat must be principled, work for the good of the people and country and not for self-interest. He should play an active role in social organisations. This is a service-oriented job.
  • My wakil rakyat must be fluent in the local dialects. Or be fluent in at least three languages, one of which must be Bahasa Malaysia. How is he going to communicate with his constituents if he can’t speak their lingo? He must also be able to articulate well.
  • My wakil rakyat must turun padang when the people are faced with issues so that he can understand the issues first-hand.

So, my dear friends, come election day, vote wisely and choose a wakil rakyat you will be proud of. We should be more responsible when electing our representatives. If they do not perform and if they misbehave, punish them by booting them out of office.