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Community relations: The way forward for elected reps

Updated: Oct 19, 2023




Article by Jacqueline Arnold @ TwentyTwo13 (15 September 2023)


My last article discussed how businesses, through community relations, can contribute to nation-building.


This week, as we celebrate Malaysia Day, I’d like to share my thoughts on how crucial community relations is for our elected representatives’ in their nation-building role.


‘Lawmaker’, ‘legislator’, ‘leader’. These are some of the terms typically used to describe our elected representatives, aka Members of Parliament (MPs). I think we shoot ourselves in the foot when we call elected representatives ‘leaders’, because some tend to forget that their first and most important responsibility is to the people who voted for them. They tend to forget that they were elected to serve the electorate, their community; and not the other way round.


In recent months, we’ve seen how politicians scrambled to secure votes just before the Aug 12 state elections. I believe that if they had been consistently visible and active in genuinely serving their constituents, a mad scramble two weeks before polling day would not have been necessary.


Some say that being active in the community and serving the people doesn’t really matter because Malaysians generally vote for the party. I beg to differ.


How many of us have met our MP or state assemblyman? With information at our fingertips thanks to smart devices, today’s electorate is more knowledgeable and educated.


If a candidate had been actively serving their constituents come rain or shine, election year or not, the candidate would be appreciated and would have top-of mind recall.


For those who succeeded in securing a seat this time, we hope they will realise that they cannot take their constituents for granted. More and more, the rakyat want representatives who serve and attend to their issues and grievances. What is the MP doing to reduce the crime rate in their constituency? Where is the MP when the area is flooded? What is the state assemblyman doing when drains are clogged and roads are full of potholes?


These are just some of the day-to-day problems the rakyat face. These are basic quality-of-life issues.


For those candidates who didn’t win, if you’re committed to a cause or issue, it’s never over. If you’re really serious about public service, then this is not the end, but rather just the beginning, before the next election.


Prospective candidates should start now to intensify efforts and engagement in the community and build their own brand. Find relevant non-governmental organisations to collaborate with and stay focused on constituents’ “hot button” issues, such as:


  • Addressing the socio-economic gap through education,

  • Improving quality of life by addressing flooding, cleanliness, and the state of the infrastructure,

  • Promoting a healthy lifestyle to address the alarming increase of non-communicable diseases,

  • Standing up for the common man,

  • Be vocal on your pet topics and keep at it, and

  • On-ground presence and visibility is also mission critical. Organise activities and engage with the community. You want to create and maintain a buzz in the community and constituency. Consistency is key.


Public relations is not only about what you say, but also about your actions, or inactions. If you can do all this, come election time, you’ll be able to show proof of your commitment with quantifiable metrics of how many lives you’ve impacted, and the results will speak for itself.


This Malaysia Day, as citizens, let’s pledge to expect more from our elected representatives. Let’s demand that they walk the talk and walk alongside constituents for a better, more progressive nation.


Let’s hold them accountable for their actions. The rakyat deserve honest, competent, and professional elected representatives.


Selamat Hari Malaysia, to all Malaysians!

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