Sunday, August 14, 2022

Qualifications, character and attitudes of  candidates

Secara Rawak

Tomorrow, April 25, 2016 is the nomination day for the Sarawak State 11th general elections. We basically already knew who are going to run from the BN and from the main opposition parties. But it is the independent candidates that are difficult to predict as to how many will they be, as they normally don’t announce their intentions before hand.

Independent Candidates

There were 41 independent candidates in the last state election. For this election,  it is anticipated that this number is going to increase.

Previously, the vast majority of the independent candidates have come from the Iban community. There are no indications to suggest that this trend is going to slow down.

However, due to the prevailing circumstances, particularly in the manner in which the BN selected its candidates, there is a high likelihood that the number of independent candidates from the Chinese community will increase dramatically this time around.

The presence of independent candidates in the past tends to favour the BN as they took some of the votes that were supposed to go to the main opposition candidates.

In this election, the presence of independent candidates might give advantage to the oppositions.


There is going to be a rematch in this election. Sih Hua Tong (BN-SUPP) is trying his luck for the second time against See Chee How of PKR. Of course, they are going to be a number of opposition candidates trying their luck again, but the tussels between Sih Hua Tong and the rather popular See Chee How attracts greater interest among the political observers.  


An election is a process whereby the general electorates select from among candidates and the political parties that seek-office. They not only want the voters to make them as the people’s representatives, but they also want them to give them the mandate, the authority, and the legitimacy to govern and rule over them.

Seeking Re-Election

All but one of the BN and the Opposition incumbents are seeking to be re-elected. Some of the BN incumbents that have been dropped have been replaced by their sons. The personality may have changed, but the family is still the incumbent family, so there is not much of a change in those cases. Basically, the BN retains nearly all the incumbent families. Cronyism could be a dangerous path to follow.

Qualifications of Candidates

The people’s representatives have many responsibilities. They make many difficult decisions. For those lucky enough to be appointed as members of the cabinet, they have additional responsibilities, like acting as manger for the ministry and defending it in Parliament, as well as dealing with the senior bureaucrats, and so on. As we are electing the people who want to be our respresentatives and govern us, it is right that we inquire about their qualifications.

Knowledge of Public Affairs

The act of governing is essentially about managing public affairs and public services. Should not those who seek-office know something about public affairs and public services? Does experience in these areas matter?


It is appropriate and morally right for the electorates to vote for the candidates for their honesty and integrity. Selflessness is another character that the electorates should look for in those who want to seek-office. The persons must never have contravened the laws of the country. We don’t want the people with bad character to represent us.


The electorates should look for the people that have the right attitude to be our representatives. Asking whether the person is really made for politics should be clear in the minds of the electorates. Is he interested in serving the people and the country? Or is he in politics just for the purpose of furthering his personal interests.

Those seeking election must show a genuine interest in public affairs, and should aim to help make laws that favour the people.


Should  residency in the constituency be required for a person to be eligible to be the candidate? Is having an address in the constituency enough to qualify a person to be the candidate.

The candidate’s knowledge about the local areas, about the local problems, and the local peoples cannot be ignored by the electorates.


Anyone after they have attained the age of majority in electoral terms in this country can run in an election. In this respect, there is no minimum age to enter politics as long as one is 21 years-and-above, and there is no maximum age to exit.

As the people’s representative have to make many decisions, we tend to believe that those with higher age will make better judgement.

Someone who is too young may not have enough life experience to be a leader. They may not have the necessary character and attitude.

However, the ability to make mature judgment may not necessarily correspond with the number of years that we have been here in this world.


Politics, as in many other things in life, is still very much dominated by men. For this 11th state election, out of the 82 BN candidates, only four are female: Fatimah Abdullah (Dalat), Sharifah Hasidah Aman Ghazali (Semariang), Simoi Haji Peri (Lingga), and Rosey Yunus (Bekenu). Thus far, the BN has never put up an Iban or a Dayak female candidate. In the last 53 years, Sarawak only has one female pelople’s representative from outside the Malay-Melanau community, in Lily Yong.


What kind of experiences do we want the candidates to have? Basic experience, as we know, increases and improves with age. Again, in politics, this may not necessarily so.

Previous involvements in the public affairs and in the public services do give the candidates extra advantages.


The number of candidates from different ethnic groups is determined by the number of constituencies where they constistute the majoriy.

Of the BN 82 candidates, 31 are Malay-Melanau, 22 Iban, 16 Chinese, 8 Bidayuh, and 5 Orang Ulu.

Educational Background

Again there are no rules on this, but having a university degree should be one of the main criteria to be used for selecting the candidates. This is to portray an image that the political party is consisted of high calibre people. Having academic standing brings in many other positive characteristics to the candidates.

Malpractices during Election

In an attempt to win the election at all cost, the candidates may do something that go beyond what is fair, just, and morally and ethically acceptable.

There are many rules and procedures in this country to ensure a fair conduct in the elections and to ensure the election campaigns are conducted accordingly.

Any infringments of the election rules can make the representatives to be disqualified. Infringment of the election laws often involves the amount of money spent by the candidates.  There are laws specifying the maximum amount that could be spent by the candidates. All that needs to be done is to enforce the laws. –

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