The badge of a wakil rakyat is to be worn with hu­mil­ity and dig­nity

New Straits Times - - OPINION - Ah­madt51@gmail.com The writer is chair­man of Yayasan Salam Malaysia

NORHIZAM Has­san Bak­tee must have worked hard to even­tu­ally be­come a wakil rakyat. In the May 9 his­toric gen­eral election, Norhizam found him­self an elected rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the peo­ple of Pengkalan Batu, Melaka.

He beat can­di­dates from Pas and Barisan Na­sional, mak­ing him one of Melaka’s new law­mak­ers. This was a sen­sa­tional vic­tory, along with many other re­sults on that same night. His suc­cess didn’t stop there. He was picked by Chief Min­is­ter Adly Za­hari to be­come the state ex­ec­u­tive coun­cil (state exco) mem­ber for agri­cul­ture, en­tre­pre­neur de­vel­op­ment and agro-based in­dus­try. In lay­man’s term, Norhizam is one of the se­lect few to hold an im­por­tant port­fo­lio to chart the state’s de­vel­op­ment.

There are oth­ers who be­lieve that Norhizam wouldn’t have suc­ceeded on his own. He won the election on the strength that there was a na­tion­wide mo­men­tum to sup­port Pakatan Hara­pan to top­ple Barisan Na­sional. So he was rid­ing on the wave cre­ated by Tun Dr Ma­hathir Mo­hamad as the 93-year-old states­man re­claimed his prime min­is­ter­ship to be­come the county’s sev­enth PM.

Norhizam was picked for the ride and saw him­self pro­pelled as a state leader, tasked with tak­ing Melaka to an­other level of de­vel­op­ment. Norhizam wasn’t the only one who rode the wave and came out a win­ner. Overnight, Malaysia saw many first-time wakil rakyat at both the fed­eral and state lev­els.

In­deed, there was eu­pho­ria never seen be­fore in the coun­try’s po­lit­i­cal land­scape. BN suf­fered more than just a ma­jor de­feat at the polls. The coali­tion which held of­fice for more than 60 years, sud­denly found it­self in tur­moil and ap­pears rud­der­less to­day.

For wakil rakyat like Norhizam, this eu­pho­ria must still be with him till to­day. He must have felt that noth­ing could ever go wrong for him po­lit­i­cally. And hav­ing been picked to be­come a state exco mem­ber, he must have felt that his po­lit­i­cal ca­reer was in­deed due to his own ca­pa­bil­i­ties and pop­u­lar­ity.

He must have felt that he was in­vin­ci­ble, which ex­plained why he is called the “Hulk” in his con­stituency. We all like con­fi­dent per­son­al­i­ties, whose charm can go a long way in win­ning votes and get­ting things done. But this was where Norhizam erred. He claimed that he is one of the most hard­work­ing state as­sem­bly­men, go­ing down to meet his con­stituents and en­gag­ing them when­ever pos­si­ble. No one in their right mind would take of­fence with a wakil rakyat if they work sin­cerely and con­sis­tently.

But his ar­gu­ment with kam­pung folks at Kam­pong Pulau Ni­bong last week was shameful, to say the least. For Norhizam to go down to meet vot­ers is very good in­deed, but ar­gu­ing in the street with vot­ers is not good be­hav­iour, to say the least.

The street ver­bal brawl was caught on cam­era and placed on so­cial me­dia very soon af­ter. In­ci­dents like this at­tract a lot of in­ter­est, and the vis­ual made its way into al­most ev­ery smart­phone in the coun­try.

Norhizam’s con­ver­sa­tion be­came very heated, prompt­ing him to re­act in a very un­flat­ter­ing man­ner. The vil­lagers of Kam­pung Pu­lai Ni­bong brought up an is­sue about a road be­ing closed at a res­i­den­tial area near the vil­lage.

It’s not the road is­sue that met with dis­ap­proval from or­di­nary folks. Rather, it was Norhizam’s rude man­ner that caught every­one’s at­ten­tion. His re­marks made many vot­ers con­clude that Norhizam was an un­fit law­maker and should be sacked.

That shout­ing match pro­duced this quote: “Si­apa YB? Awak YB kah saya YB?” In his case, Norhizam showed his false pride in be­ing a wakil rakyat, not re­al­is­ing that the badge of a wakil rakyat is to be worn with hu­mil­ity and dig­nity.

Cer­tainly not with the kind of ar­ro­gant ut­ter­ances Norhizam spewed. Norhizam must be made to re­alise that their salaries are be­ing paid by the rakyat, the kam­pung folks in­cluded. And shout­ing at vot­ers will cost him dearly.

Norhizam may not know that per­cep­tion counts a lot in pol­i­tics. He must not only be seen to be pro­fes­sional, but must be one too. Ar­gu­ing with vot­ers in the street will help make Norhizam, and oth­ers like him, be a oneterm wakil rakyat. Form and sub­stance go hand in hand in pol­i­tics.

The peo­ple don’t for­get eas­ily. If he doesn’t show some hu­mil­ity in the com­ing years, vot­ers must help him take up an­other job, one that suits his per­son­al­ity.

He had also threat­ened to sue any­one who passed his vis­ual around. The vis­ual is al­ready vi­ral, stored in smart­phones and set to be re­leased again and again in the fu­ture. I won­der who has been giv­ing him ad­vice about want­ing to sue any­one shar­ing the vis­ual.

YB Norhizam may mean well in his en­gage­ments with vot­ers. But his po­si­tion, which the vot­ers got to­gether to give him, is noth­ing but a tem­po­rary li­cence to be the peo­ple’s ser­vant. He has al­ready apol­o­gised to the kam­pung folks for his in­de­cent be­hav­iour.

But dam­age is al­ready done. Good luck, YB! You have plenty to do to win back the peo­ple’s trust. It won’t be easy, but it cer­tainly is not im­pos­si­ble.

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