The people hold the cards

By Terence Fernandez, The Sun

TODAY marks three years since the country witnessed a renaissance. It was not merely a political change that swept the nation but more importantly it was a day when perspectives were put in place – that at the end of it all, the people decide their fate, and politicians are subservient to the electorate and not the other way around.

Hence for the last three years, we have seen our politicians and representatives working harder than they had ever worked before.

Of course, many were waylaid by even more politicking, so much so that the welfare of the people was sometimes not prioritised. But this could only mean that politicians from both sides of the divide fear that their tenure is at the mercy of the electorate and they can be dumped as quickly as they were elected.

The alternative front may have rested on its laurels for too long, with some of its leaders having extended the victory party for breaking the ruling party’s two-thirds majority way past comfort levels.

The results of the last five by-elections indicate that they may be losing steam. Half-past-six candidates, several who have since had brushes with the law; and several others with amphibious tendencies are not the only spanner in the works.

The alternative has also succumbed to the need for political rhetoric hoping this will help convince voters who supported them that they had chosen wisely.

But the people just want them to fulfil election promises and get on with the job, instead of the mud-slinging and childish “he says-she says” games.

In the same breath, the ruling coalition in the federal government should also focus on fulfilling its manifesto instead of trying to undermine its opponents in Parliament as well as the four states not under its rule. Just do your work and let the people be the judge of who’s doing a better job.

Its win in eight of 16 by-elections so far indicates that it may have regained lost ground – but also may signify that it could still be anyone’s game when it comes to the big match.

Looking back three years on, we the electorate have to ask ourselves: are we better off than we were before?

An absolute majority would smooth the road to development where the government would be able to put through all its plans for the country – including election promises – without any barricades put up by a strong opposition.

But do development programmes mean progress? Expansion and budgetary plans for the nation’s growth may benefit the people but as history has taught us, absolute power also means that there may be times when the leadership is carried away and some decisions may not be in the people’s interest.

Even with smaller majorities in the legislature, we see some governments trampling on basic individual rights or being nonchalant to accusations of corruption and preferential treatment.

Hence it could only mean that we as a people are on the right track when we keep our leaders on their toes by reminding them at the ballot box who exactly is boss.

It would be wise for these politicians and those with political aspirations to remember this.

The dawn of a two-party or multi-party system illustrates the maturity of the electorate in wanting a government that works for the people. Unfortunately, there are a number of politicians who still feel that occupying positions of power is their birthright and will do anything to ensure that they stay put – even if their modus operandi is contrary to national interest.

As the buzz of a general election and more state and by-elections get louder it would be timely for us to remind these sorts that times are changing and irrespective of the symbol you display and the party you represent, the people will ultimately decide their own future. It is up to those who are vying for the public trust to ensure that they have a place in this future by their words, deeds and conduct.