Side Views

Are you voting for the party or the candidates? — Khoo Ying Hooi

FEB 25 — The much-waited 13th general election looks as if it is so near yet so far. Both Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat appear to have decided more or less their candidate line-up and the official announcements are just a matter of time.

Candidates and parties are equally vital. Candidates are important because they are representatives of their parties and might be leaders to determine the fate of the country. On the other hand, political parties are also equally crucial as the winning party will be the one setting the policy vision and formulating the public policy for the country at least in the context of Malaysia at this point of time.

Many times, people say “I vote for the candidate, not the party.” Some take pride in assessing individuals of both parties, and then voting for the more personally impressive candidate. The rationale for this is that the personalities come first into consideration before they cast their votes. It is also based on the need for the country to have decision-makers who are capable of delivering results and, generally, boosting their living standards economically.

At this juncture, supporters of regime change generally will cast their votes for the party instead of the candidates in the 13th GE. For them, it was more important to let the opposition parties expand the existing political landscape. For this group of people, the key thing is to give an opportunity to the opposition parties to rule the government in the hope for a better Malaysia.

The argument on voting for the party and not the candidates is that the candidate being voted for, no matter what his or her stand, must dance to the same tune with the political party that put him or her in that position. By choosing the party, it will more or less be guaranteed that the party has some continuity of commitment no matter how compromised while the candidates do not have that capacity.

There is nothing wrong with voting for the party and not the person or the other way round. There is even nothing wrong with blindly voting for Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat even if nothing else is known about the candidates being field in the GE. Naturally, he or she runs on a party platform making various promises, and if that party wins a majority of seats it “forms a government.”

Given the way Malaysian politics works after 2008, the most crucial thing to do now is to exercise your vote because each vote counts. The 13th GE is definitely a different battleground compared with the previous election. This time around, a great number of new faces in the politics are well expected especially from Pakatan Rakyat.

Certainly, the quality of candidates can enhance the trust of voters. However, elections are not all about selecting between sets of constituencies. Most importantly, it is about choosing, more or less, between two sets of policy choices. So, make your vote and your voice count.

* Khoo Ying Hooi is an academic staff member in the University of Malaya and a PhD candidate in Universiti Putra Malaysia.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.



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