Can we trust unity govt’s politicians?
It is hard to believe someone who says they are concerned about people yet seems to have no plan to help ease their economic woes. Or, if you say you want to fight corruption but then appoint or reappoint doubtful people to positions of power, it is natural that distrust breeds.
(FMT) – I once had a dodgy business partner from Europe. He eventually absconded, leaving behind a mess that I had to clean up. It was a huge loss for me, and it took me almost two years to bounce back.
The signs were ominous. He regularly started every sentence with the prefix: “…believe me, Shankar.” And, I should have known better as I was always uncomfortable with him.
I felt similar after the Unity Government National Convention 2023. I could not help but feel uneasy watching Anwar Ibrahim squirm a little in his seat while his deputy, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi waxed lyrical about the prime minister being the “real deal”.
Then we had the Loke Siew Fook poem about becoming friends with his enemies for the sake of unity. For Malaysians who follow our political landscape closely, it was a rather surreal convention.
We have had four prime ministers, coalitions that form and break, former enemies becoming bedfellows, and a shocking pandemic that led to pandemonium.
Malaysians are fatigued and worried about polarisation
Non-Muslims are freaking out about radical Islamisation. The upcoming elections in six states are being labelled as some sort of watershed moment to gauge if this government can stem the further radicalisation and parochialism that the so-called “green wave” will inevitably bring.
So, for many, this unprecedented unity government is their last hope. The situation needs to be fixed now, or we simply fail as a nation. But Malaysians need to trust that these leaders will get things right.
Can we trust the unity government politicians?
The Dalai Lama once said that you cannot buy trust in the supermarket. Similarly, by repeatedly telling the nation that this time we will get it right, does not actually build trust.
Our world is held together by just a few fundamental forces. And, I reckon that the most important glue that holds any society together is trust. Malaysians of different walks of life, culture and religious beliefs, stick together because trust allows us to feel safe and be part of this melting pot of a nation.
When we trust our leaders, our communities flourish. When there is a trust-deficiency, it causes fragmentation, and conflict. In some parts of the world, we can see that it leads to civil wars and in extreme cases, even ethnic cleansing.
What do our politicians need to show us to build this trust?
This government has to start by being reliable. If Anwar is true to his word and fulfils his commitments, the people will begin to trust him. His government needs to think through plans and actually get input from the real experts, not just their sycophants.
Show us courage in enforcing your plans and ideas without capitulating and pandering. We will salute you and start to trust you.
Successive governments in Malaysia have lacked transparency
Today, most of us are anxious. When we are uninformed, we assume the worst and start panicking. If you keep meeting in secret, and don’t share important information, people become distrustful. When you share ideas and allow the citizenry to share their views, we will all begin to hear each other.
I know that by their very definition, this unity government will have to appoint people from the various component coalitions to appease every ideologue.
But if we do not appoint competent people or reappoint tainted people, trust dissipates instantly. If the appointees speaking on behalf of leadership are not authentic and are unable to inspire or engage, how can this government expect the populace to be reassured?
Anwar-led unity government needs to act with sincerity
Everyone senses disingenuity and insincerity. As eloquent as you are, if you are not authentic, and do not have congruence, people will not believe what you are saying.
For example, it is hard to believe someone who says they are concerned about people yet seems to have no plan to help ease their economic woes. Or, if you say you want to fight corruption but then appoint or reappoint doubtful people to positions of power, it is natural that distrust breeds.
Sometimes leaders think they can camouflage their true intentions, but they should not underestimate the people whom they lead. We can all detect a lack of sincerity and this is when trust erodes.
And ultimately, I hope at least this government can learn to admit their mistakes.
No one expects perfection from any government. The citizenry is not as naïve as that. But if a minister or a civil servant never says they are wrong, and does not acknowledge their mistakes, it simply shows weakness and an inability to lead.
When politicians do something wrong in the eyes of the public, then rant about being wronged themselves, and threaten all manner of repercussions, they simply will not gain the public’s trust. But a timely admission of getting something wrong is a powerful tool in rebuilding trust.
So please, will our unity government’s politicians show us that we can trust them!