Change your opinions but keep your principles

Ultimately, people will support those who made a difference to their lives. Everything else is secondary when one makes a decision to cross the ballot paper.

Some may say that Malaysians only demonstrate poor manners on the road, but that makes me ponder if it is really the case. Of late, we have borne witness to inimical mannerisms in relation to the general election.

It is not just the politicians that are an international laughing stock, but we Malaysians have become a mockery with our own actions, such as stories of individuals with Chinese-Indian parentage who were roughened up by opposition supporters during the last general election for being mistaken as Bangladeshi. How shameful.

More recently, a 74-year-old gentleman was pushed off the stage at a political event in Johor. Individuals who possess a different ideology or political belief are often berated. It is appalling how those yearning for a change endorse the notion that it is okay not to have a moral grounding when it comes to politics and elections.

Even celebrities who differ in opinion have been bombarded. Lee Chong Wei is the latest to receive flak for attending a BN-related event. In the past, artistes like Siti Nurhaliza also received abuse on social media. A comedian, Dr. Jason Leong, was not spared either. When he joked about the individuals who blundered during nominations, offensive slurs were speared towards him too.

Mahatma Gandhi is said to have stated that cardinal social sins include politics without principles and commerce without morality.

Celebrities, too, are human beings with a right to support whoever they wish. Ultimately, people are going to support the individual or team that made a difference to their lives.

Individuals in Selangor who benefitted under the state government’s Indian Entrepreneurs’ Programme will definitely vote for Harapan while stateless Indians whose citizenship issues were resolved by the government will obviously vote BN.

Just by understanding this basic principle, one would comprehend why politicians who work locally continue to be re-elected despite not being fan favourites of the rest. The ability to perform locally is often the primary reason and everything else is secondary when one makes a decision to cross the ballot paper.

I find it baffling to hear advice about saving the country from someone who failed to save his own marriage or listen to people who complain of financial strain but spend their salary at bars every weekend. If only they applied those principles to themselves.

It is futile to be devout in religion but abhorrent in behaviour. Learn to accept differences in opinion. Everyone has a right to pick those whom they favour. Be righteous in our conduct and beliefs. To quote the French poet and novelist, Victor Marie Hugo, “Change your opinions, but keep to your principles. Change your leaves, keep intact your roots.”

Click here to get live updates throughout the GE14 season

Karamjit Gill is an FMT reader.

The views expressed by the writer do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.