Thursday, June 27

A political reflection on Penang floods


THE recent Penang floods brought the best out of our people, including (thanks goodness) parties from both sides of the political divide.

When one is in trouble, others can put aside their personal and political differences and come to the rescue. In the context of the flood disaster in the northern island state, this should be seen as a commendable act of putting national interests above the kerfuffle of party politics.

The deployment of rescue operations clearly demonstrated that political foes can transcend vested interests and focus on tackling a catastrophy to save lives and properties.

Notably, Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Harapan (PH) put aside their differences and cooperated with each other to bring much needed relief to the victims.

Such co-operation should earn the parties involved public approbation rather than opprobrium from self-serving individuals playing the blame game to gain political mileage. The latter is a shameful deprication of mutual goodwill and grossly out of place.

Both sides have shown that regardless of political leanings, there is still common ground for co-operation to get people out of harm’s way – and save more lives – in the face of a calamity.

The opposition had put aside their political agendas to co-operate with flood relief agencies from the government. Their cynicism towards their political opponents was not present during the rescue operations.

Apparently, cooperation had taken precedent over confrontation in the effort to prevent the loss of more lives.

The Penang floods had not only tested the government’s ability to respond to disaster and manage crisis but, more crucially, its effectiveness in carrying out these two tasks as well, notwithstanding differing political considerations.

The Penang state government had also demonstrated its readiness to set aside political rivalry and seek assistance from the central government.

Both the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister responded immediately to the SOS and gave the Penang state government all the support it needed. This has earned many positive points for BN.

Certain remarks made in the aftermath of the floods – which did not sit well with the public – should have been avoided. People are tired of politicking for the mere sake of it. Criticisms or sarcasms in time of disaster are unwarranted.

Being better informed and able to tell real from fake news, people have gained a deeper understanding of issues that can affect their lives – and no less, the need to resolve them.

Ostensibly, in the public domain, rhetorics, based on personal aversion and bereft of facts, no longer serve as an effective weapon of calumny for political leaders.

Rather, our representatives should roll up their sleeves and walk the talk to justify the mandate from the people who elect them to the position of power and whom they have pledged to serve.

It is understandable that as both sides control certain states in the country, and are aiming to wrest more from each other, the tendency to confront is inevitable. But what the people want to see is genuine competition between the two sides in delivering on their promises rather than harping on and playing up stale issues.

The people are more concerned about how policies are enacted and how effectively they are implemented for the betterment of the rakyat and country.

What is needed is a pragmatist who can solve problems. Indeed, whoever can fulfil the expectations of the people will win their hearts and minds.

Can we see the day when ‘politics for show’ becomes irrelevant? A pertinent question that is left to be answered.

If the co-operation as seen from both sides in dealing with the floods in Penang could lead to more understanding and less suspicion and acrimony, then, at least, a lesson will have been taken from the massive deluge.