Politicians Slammed for Vote-Fishing Attempts During Crisis

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Outdated tactics that are unethical and immoral, especially when the country is going through a crisis.

Voters won’t fall for politicians who are allegedly exploiting the coronavirus outbreak to fish for support, with aid packages bearing their photographs and names.

Political analysts told The Malaysian Insight the Malaysian electorate has matured enough to realise that such aid likely comes from taxpayers rather than the politicians’ own pockets.

The use of such outdated tactics will backfire on these personalities, who appear unethical and immoral, especially when the country is going through a crisis, they said.

Allegations that certain Perikatan Nasional (PN) politicians are using the coronavirus outbreak to promote themselves have emerged on Sarawak Report.

Packets of rice, flour, sugar and hand sanitisers emblazoned with the pictures of PN leaders were allegedly distributed to needy households who have lost their incomes due to Putrajaya’s movement-control order (MCO).

The MCO was imposed throughout Malaysia to break the chain of Covid-19 infections, which to date stands at 2,766, with 43 dead.

The Malaysian Insight contacted some of the leaders and are awaiting their response to the allegations.

Political scientist Prof James Chin said these are merely opportunistic attempts at self-promotion.

“They don’t really care for their reputation. They just want to get their brand out there,” said the analyst from the University of Tasmania.

Universiti Malaya’s Prof Awang Azman Awang Pawi said members of the administration are returning to the old patronage politics of Barisan Nasional.

“The patron wants to show his clients that he has the money to serve them. But what is inappropriate is that it’s not his money he is spending, but public funds,” said Awang Azman.

Whatever their intentions, anti-corruption group Transparency International-Malaysia said such stunts are completely unethical because the aid is funded by taxpayers and not from the politicians’ pockets.

“TI-Malaysia urges Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin to investigate this and if it is true, to put a stop to this immediately,” said TI-Malaysia president Muhammad Mohan.

“This goes against basic principles of ethics and good governance that the government promised,” Muhammad said.

Butt of jokes

These politicians will be sadly mistaken if they believe such efforts will net them votes as the blowback has been swift, said Mohd Azlan Zainal of the polling outfit Ilham Centre.

“Much of the response on social media towards these ‘political stunts’ have been negative, and they are either the butt of jokes or the target of ire,” Azlan told The Malaysian Insight.

“Populist politics during a time of crisis will not get the support of the people. This should not be the time to canvass for political support or fish for votes.”

Low-income families and the most vulnerable don’t really care from where the aid comes, whether it is the government, the opposition or civil society groups as long as it is distributed in a timely manner, said Azlan.

“Their hope is that whatever aid in the stimulus package is distributed quickly as they have to endure the MCO without any income.”

Awang Azman echoed this, saying that recipients of such aid will likely not look at which party is delivering it.

“The public is mature enough. They will accept what aid you give them, but it does not mean that they will vote for you.” – TMI