Monday, March 18

The ‘right channel’ is the wrong channel


WHENEVER complaints by local communities are aired through the media, the authorities concerned would routinely advise them to go through the proper channel for the solution.

Going through the proper channel means writing to the relevant government departments, district council or the police instead of going to the media or turning to opposition politicians to highlight their predicament.

One state minister recently retorted, “If they go to the media with their problems then let the media solve them,” in response to The Borneo Post’s report of villagers requesting for a footpath along the road to the village school.

This was an irresponsible reaction to pleas for help from the very people who elected him into office, especially when it emerged that they had actually gone through ‘the proper channel’ many times in the past to no avail.

Many pressing issues affecting the people have been swept under the carpet or pushed aside because they heeded the advice of ‘going through the proper channel’.

Elected representatives and authorities must wake up to the fact that people only turn to the press to highlight their problems because their pleas for remedies have been ignored by the ‘proper channels’.

They should react positively to grouses brought up through the media instead of being angry with the complainants and chiding them for exposing the problems.

However, of late the ‘right channels’ seem to be functioning efficiently and complaints brought up through them attended to swiftly.

While we should laud this change for the better, I have a nagging sense of déjà vu – when was the last time this phenomenon occurred?

If memory serves me right, it was in early 2011 before the state election in April – I wonder if it is a coincidence that the ‘right channels’ seem to function especially well when elections loom.

Well we have been on tenterhooks over the perpetually impending 13th General Election since the middle of last year but given this phenomenon, I think this waiting game is not a bad thing after all.

Usually, these sudden surges in efficiency before elections are often followed by a dip in performance after the elections, which tends to last until the next election comes along.

It would be grossly unfair to accuse all our elected representatives on both sides the political divide of post-election fatigue as some of them worked very hard for the people even when the election was a number of years away.

However, some elected representatives tend to pay more attention to areas where the majority of the people voted for them, while staying away from places where they are not popular.

The most extreme case of this payback mentality was some years ago when an assemblyman ordered poles already installed for cables
to supply electricity to a village to be removed immediately after the election because the majority of the people there voted for someone else.

A bit of bias might be accepted as a natural human tendency but those who pledged to serve the people must remember they are the representatives of everyone in their constituency and not just those who voted for them.

This vindictive form of democracy should not have any place in our society especially when our national leaders have been trumpeting ‘Janji ditepati’ in this long run up to the general election.

Those who fulfil their election promises must fulfil them for every Malaysian regardless of their political leanings.