Sometimes politicians may not be who they seem.

Let’s look at some definitions first.

Politics (Oxford dictionary): the activities associated with the governance of a country or area, especially the debate between parties having power:

Politician (Oxford): a person who is professionally involved in politics, especially as a holder of an elected office:

Corrupted politician (my definition): A person who is professionally involved in politics who has mastered the art of acting in his or her own interest or in the interests of party, corporate/Big Business or cronies/relatives or other agencies – but all the time giving the illusion of acting in the best interest of the public including the poor and marginalised.

machiavellian (Oxford): cunning, scheming, and unscrupulous, especially in politics.

My comment: In the Malaysian context this would include those who resort to divide-and-rule tactics, those who indulge right-wing racial fringe groups or close an eye towards groups using mob tactics, those who indulge their cronies.

A wise veteran politician, who retired disillusioned, told me: You can tell a politician by the company he most often keeps and the people he talks to.

If the politician spends most of his time talking to Men or Women in Suits (or cronies) from the corporate world, then the policies introduced would be pro-corporate (neoliberal politicies such as privatisation, GST) or crony based.

On the other hand, if the politician spends most of her time talking to workers and the ordinary people and understands their problems, then the policies would be more people friendly (universal healthcare, widespread affordable housing etc).

It is often impossible to please everyone, said the retired politician. Much depends on whose concerns the politicians hears the most. That’s how his or her priorities will be shaped and that is whose interest will be served.

Sometimes when a politician attains power and dons suits and YB titles and is chauffeur-driven everywhere, he or she may lose touch with the common people’s aspirations. Gatekeepers and secretaries keep the ordinary people away from the politician, and the tendency for them then is to be more receptive to appointments with Big Business and their concerns.

That is when the ‘transformation’ from people-centred politician to pro-business/corporate politician may take place, if it had not already taken root even before the election. After all, large corporations are known to play both sides of the political field to hedge their interests.

This is not to say we don’t need political change to boot out corrupt politicians. We do. We just need to make sure that whoever we elect to replace them will really serve the people’s interests.