Brave New World (The Star)
15 December 2011
There is a need to understand what the philosophies of the competing political parties are, to know their thoughts on the problems of the day.
UNLIKE most of my contemporaries who signed up for driving lessons as soon as they turned 17, I was a late bloomer. I did not learn to drive till I was way into my 20s and then I did not actually drive until a few months after getting my licence because the Mini Minor I bought blew her gasket when my mate was driving it from the dealer to my house.
So for years, getting to and from work meant taking a bus. From the depths of Keramat, I would take a blue Sri Jaya bus to Chow Kit and from there I would take either a yellow No. 12 minibus or a pink No. 30 minibus (Actually its number 39. The Star made a mistake. Just in case there are any mini bus fanatics reading this!) to get to my final destination (both the Sri Jaya bus and the minibuses are now history of course). The whole trip would normally take me an hour and a half.
It was pretty tiring just getting to work. The buses were usually full to the brim. If I was fortunate enough to actually get a seat, inevitably there would either be an old pakcik standing next to me tremulously holding on for dear life or, more commonly, a heavily pregnant woman looking at my seat with undisguised longing, her bulging belly gently bumping my head.
Needless to say, I would end up standing for the entire journey hanging on to a metal bar as I perched precariously on the outside step of the bus, my Billy Ray Cyrus mullet blowing in the wind.
Once, I got to my final stop in such an exhausted state that I knew I would die if I tried to cross the busy street to my office. Being the wise young man I was, I just curled up on the bus stand bench and slept, lulled by the gentle sounds of the mon-soon drain gurgling and the kapchais spluttering.
The reason I am reminded of these adventures during my early days in Kuala Lumpur is the news that some bus companies are actually stopping entire routes because they are losing so much money from them.
Apparently, the prices of tickets have not gone up to balance the tremendous rise in fuel and maintenance costs.
This is indeed a serious problem because it will affect tens of thousands of people, especially those who live on the outskirts of town and those who live in rural areas.
And it is merely one of many serious problems that the Government, whoever they may be, will have to try to solve.
I don’t have any answers but I would like to know what our leaders and leaders-in-waiting have to say about such things.
Sure, it is fun to read about the shenanigans of our politicians.
Of course, no one expects candidates to be up to date on every single issue. That would be impossible to achieve, but to a large extent knowing what they will do or are likely to do is a question of philosophy.
There is a need to understand what the philosophies of the competing parties are. Are they laissez-faire capitalists or are they socialist? Or perhaps they are somewhere in between?
With this knowledge, we can figure out pretty much the kind of approach and direction they will take in governance.
Of course it would be useful if they had transparency as well. If a government official tells me “we don’t have money to subsidise bus routes”, then I jolly well want to know how much money we do have and just what have you been spending it on.
Alas, I know that this is a rather forlorn hope as Malaysian politics can be quite infantile and as we approach the next general election, it will probably be the usual mudslinging and histrionics.
But we can make a little change. The next time we see our candidate, let’s ask them some questions about things that affect our lives.
It will force them to think of the issues, or at the very least it will show us if they can think at all.