Steering clear of the politics of patronage

Posted on November 25, 2010


“The MCLM committee members and officer bearers themselves will not be contesting the general election to prevent anyone from using the MCLM as a platform to further their own political careers” – RPK, in his “The MCLM will enter into second gear today” post.


Why has money politics become the bane of most political parties?

Why are voters and delegates feted to overseas holidays and promises of cash and kind in return for the promises of votes to secure divisional leadership?

In the recently concluded PKR elections, there was a bigger turnout, it seems, of members to vote at the elections of divisional leaders than that of national leaders.


Most aspiring politicians stand little chance of securing a position on the smaller national leadership platform, already overcrowded by the more senior party leaders, as compared to the more accessible, larger divisional leadership platform.

Having secured a position at divisional level, there is therefore little incentive for these new divisional leaders to mobilise members to come out to vote to choose national leaders, unless aspiring national leaders provide the requisite inducement.

Yes, another round of overseas holidays and promises of cash and kind.

Divisional leadership offers a strong foundation to lay claim to an opportunity to be fielded as a candidate within the constituency of that division, either as a state assemblyperson or, better yet, parliamentarian.

And election to either position paves the way for the aspiring politician to take his budding career beyond the rank and file of the party, possibly having a shot at national leadership at the next round of party elections.

And so, these aspirants see the money dished out to secure divisional leadership as an investment in the advancement of their political career.

In time, when he makes it big, it’s time to collect on this investment.

Both for himself and his grass root supporters who have put him where he is in the hierarchy of power within the party.

This is why money politics has become the bane of party politics.

This plainly corrupt practice is inherent to the very nature of party politics and its internal election process.

We, the people,  must collectively press for a re-thinking of the processes that lead up to the selection and election of our representatives in the state assemblies and Parliament.

We, the people, must usher in a new brand of politics that has no room for the corrupt practices that today see those law-making bodies filled with men and women who are motivated by little else besides self-promotion.

For this reason, as long as RPK and I are involved in the leadership of MCLM, we will not allow this fledgling initiative to morph into a political party complete with money politics and all the corrupt practices so prevalent in party politics today.

And, in the context of the Barisan Rakyat independent candidate initiative that RPK and I will be taking to the MCLM committee for its consideration this weekend, I will fully support the proposal by RPK that office bearers of MCLM be barred from contesting in the next general election, so that the ills of the politics of patronage will not creep into this civil society initiative.