We have never had it so good - Abdullah Ahmad

27 July 1997

Many people in the West and in the United States are turned off by politics - talented and clever people, in particular - and for several good reasons. Poor pay is the least of the reasons. I should think that pressure on the family, intrusion, and assault on privacy are the major causes.

I have no hard evidence to back this up, but I do recall vaguely what John Cole, a former political editor of the BBC wrote many years ago. He wrote that in England at least both anecdotal and survey evidences suggest that.

In Malaysia people are inclined to think, among the Bumiputra, in particular, despite the sleaze and the infuriation they feel from watching the performance of some second-rate politicians on television, politics is a sought-after profession.

I spend a bit of time watching American politicians on CNN and ABC, and British politicians on BBC and ITN. Perhaps they are more articulate than many Malaysian politicians. Still, listening to their shrill irrelevancies and prejudices, in international affairs especially, is a severe test of patience and tolerance.

In Malaysia, I always find people, whether in Kok Lanas, Pekan, Alor Star, Dato' Keramat, Bukit Damansara or Bangsar, are cautious if not indifferent to politicians because they tend to blame politicians for not doing enough for them. To these people, nothing is ever enough.

We have raised the expectations of our people so high that nothing is now good enough for them. They now crave for a more prosperous Malaysia, happier times, bigger take-home salaries, and more perks with less work.

The Malaysians, under Dato' Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad's leadership since 1981, have never had it so good. Those who do not get what they want are blaming politicians for not providing them with what they desire on their laps.

Malaysians - the Bumiputra especially - are natural supporters of welfare from the cradle-to-the-grave and I believe that any government which guarantees this will stay in power forever.