Letter: “Our Politicians Have Failed Us”

I refer to your editorial entitled, “Our Politicians Have Failed Us” in IE 323 dated March 16-31. Here are my comments.

An excellent article as usual although I would beg to differ on the concluding remarks to allow bureaucrats to run a country. At all costs, democracy should be maintained and nurtured.

You did call a spade a spade and your third-party opinions such as your barber were refreshing. We don’t have statesman in Malaysia and most, if not all politicians, have no idea about the business of government. It’s more of power, gravy train, ego, influence and the like for our politicians. They don’t know that the business of government is mainly public policy and not the day-to-day running of the government, leave that to the trained bureaucrats because that is their job.

Take for instance the recent Coronavirus pandemic. While I am certain that it wasn’t intentional, the actions of Muhyiddin and company left a void in Malaysia. For about two weeks we were left with practically no government. All public policies were at a standstill.

While bureaucrats did their best they could only function within defined government policy as it stood. It is fine for other areas of government but in health, and during an epidemic of proportions, it is disastrous. During epidemics and disasters, we use public policy to contain and mitigate it.

The Health Ministry cannot be effective against epidemics as its existence is to provide treatment and at best can activate its disaster plans. Healthcare is built on ratios say, the number of beds per thousand population. It is not equipped to deal with unusual circumstances for a long period of time.

If a government run by politicians do not react in a timely fashion, it will run out of resources and will be overwhelmed. It will no longer have sufficient capacity to deal with the problem.

For two weeks there was no change in public health policy resulting in the number of Covid-19 cases rising from a mere 20 to 500. Then the government responded, in my view inadequately, with movement restrictions.

Has it made an impact? I dare say it has not. In my opinion, the borders should be closed and a lockdown is necessary for at least two weeks or more if you want to contain this epidemic.

Now back to the editorial. A bureaucrat is unable or unwilling to call the shots in public policy as they are the employees and rightfully should not make such calls. They are not accountable to the electorate. They cannot be dismissed every five years, the law does not allow it. So they also should not have the power to shape society through public policy.

While the current political situation is very deplorable, we must at all times stick to democracy. It is a working model throughout the world and our country for the last six decades. I am not willing to change the way I live for a few bad apples. What I will do instead is to continue to strive and have the perseverance to keep contributing via the ballot box and do my bit to develop Malaysia into a matured democracy.

I sincerely hope God will inculcate some sense into the politicians so they will understand the business of the government and start contributing to this great nation of ours.

As usual, I enjoyed reading your write-up.

Rajindar Singh
New Zealand

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