Floods a reminder that we need a ‘political reset’

From Susan Long, FMT

I was shocked to read in the media that as the death toll from the floods in Selangor rose to more than 20, politicians were still blaming each other, oblivious to the plight of the victims.

Minister Noh Omar was reported in the news to be engaged in a war of words with Selangor menteri besar Amirudin Shari over who should be blamed for the poor response.

Do we need to see politicians take on each other like kids in the schoolyard at a time of national crisis? Do they have any inkling of the kind of suffering the victims are going through?

Be that as it may, I believe the floods have a silver lining. It’s a stark reminder that we have to ditch the old politics that has outlived its usefulness in favour of new ones.

It is time we ditch the old players and outdated mindsets that have hobbled our race to live up to the nation’s full potential.

Otherwise, the Noh Omar-Amirudin spat will resurface again, in one form or another, while the people continue to suffer. So too will the archaic mindsets manifested by the spat.

As the year draws to a close, it’s time to do some serious soul-searching. I believe it’s time to collectively look into a “national reset”. The idea is not new.

An ex-Pakatan Harapan minister first floated the idea late last year as the country’s political disarray came to a head.

It is time to revisit this idea. For far too long, Malaysians have been under the yoke of old political structures, players and culture. We’d never solve today’s problems with solutions and leaders from yesteryear.

For a national reset to take place effectively, the people need to be bold and embrace bold new ideas and leaders.

If we continue to hold on to the “devils you know”, we only have ourselves to blame for the political morass we are stuck in.

Above all, a “national reset” entails ditching race- and religion-based politics which has become a prominent feature over the decades.

As globalisation gathers intensity, we cannot allow identity politics to continue bogging us down.

Female empowerment is also a necessity. Women’s voices need to be heard and represented in proportion to its population.

The testosterone-driven politics need to be tampered with more compassion and sensitivity from the fairer sex to make the government more relatable to the people.

It also goes without saying that we should support parties or individuals who do not just pay lip service to abandoning political patronage that has resulted in leakages by the billions of ringgit and made Malaysia an international laughing stock.

Thankfully, some baby steps towards this have been made. While the idea of political reset was floated as early as late last year, others have also jumped on the bandwagon.

The recent Sarawak elections saw the participation of many parties trying to break the old mould dominated by Gabungan Parti Sarawak and Pakatan Harapan.

The recently-launched Parti Bangsa Malaysia aspires to be a multiracial party and even have a “national reset” as its goal.

But all these would be futile if the public keeps holding on to old ideas that have outlived their usefulness. We need to be brave to embrace change and not allow politicking to continue stifling our potential.

As the floods recede, it’s time for old politics to take a backseat. Let’s have a “national reset” – our collective resolution for 2022.