Source Aliran
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: The political discourse in Malaysia and the West is high on racism and radical nationalism and low on substance and quality.
Unfortunately, this current trend runs parallel with the political drift to the right in the world today, particularly in the US and Western Europe.  
It does not need any deep thought or intelligence from these politicians to whip up racist, radical nationalistic and anti-immigrants sentiments and make it their central theme to win elections.
In fact, the further one tilts to the right, the faculty to think becomes straight-jacketed and inevitably becomes constricted and inferior. 
It is pretty obvious that the quality of some of our politicians and their speeches has nosedived to such a worrying stage that it leads one to believe that these wannabes had in the past done very little schooling or a lot of wrong kind of schooling.
One should not blame the people for having a poor view of these politicians. It is not rare to find a PhD or a degree holder saying silly, trivial and untrue things, particularly in the press and social media.
At times, it is so mind-boggling to hear comical nonsense from these characters that it cannot stop one from wondering whether they had ever been weaned off comic books from their childhood days.
Now our politicians, especially from the opposition, demand that they should be given a free pass to say whatever they like and whoever they wish to direct it to.
Actually, what is missing in our politicians’ speech is intelligence, not freedom.
To have a better understanding of this particular concept of free speech, we must turn back the clock to the era of ancient Greece, where speech and intelligence came hand in hand. These two were inseparable parts of their political discourse.
For starters, ancient Greek politicians were tutored by the best sophists of the day when they were young, because their parents knew that the “hearers” (people or council members) of their sons’ speech were obsessed with intelligence rather than the freedom to make it. 
Thus, their parents would spare no expense to hire the best sophist to tutor their sons, so that they would not make a donkey of themselves in a debate or any public discourse.
Speech to the ancient Greeks was different: they branched out their speech into three categories with different priorities. 
According to Aristotle, speech comes in three different categories: forensic, ceremonial oratory of display and political oratory.
Forensic speakers either attack or defend somebody. They stay neutral on the subject matter. They needed no research or to prove whether the statements they made were true or false. It didn’t matter.
Ceremonial speakers either praise or censure somebody, and it is in this category that most of our politicians fall. It is the tit-for-tat type of engagement which our politicians are so fond of using that it had seeped into every corner of our daily life in Malaysia. Even Parliament is not spared. Unfortunately, the press and social media are full of this tit-for-tat politics. 
And lastly, political oratory. The ancient Greeks took this category of speech seriously and primed it with a large dose of intelligence and substance.
So to be qualified as a political orator, one has to be an expert in a vast range of  subject matters: ways and means, war and peace, national defence, imports and exports, and legislation.
Ways and means – The speaker has to know the number and extent of the country’s sources of revenue and its expenditure. This is the work scope of a modern finance minister.
War and peace – The speaker has to know the actual and potential military strength of his country and of his enemy’s. From a knowledge of the history of wars fought, he or she has to have a contingency plan for further peace and war.
National defence – The speaker ought to know the inner workings of the actual defensive strategy used, the actual strength and character of the defence force, and the positions of all the defensive forts.
Imports and exports – The speaker has to know about his country’s food production and what is imported. Treaties must be made with foreign nations on the imports of food or exports.
Legislation – The speaker has to know the different types of constitutions of other nations to be able to formulate a sound set of laws. He or she has to have the welfare of the nation at heart and leave very little for judges to adjudicate on.
Here, our MPs could learn a thing or two from these ancient politicians. They were aware that if they pushed legislation too hard and extreme, the nation would become an oligarchy. They were also intelligent enough not to monopolise political power and turn the state into a dictatorship.  
My simple wish is that our politicians should do more thinking and reading and opt for facts and truths, not fanciful views and falsehoods.
Anybody can give a speech, but the content must hold a certain level of intelligence that should not involve trivial matters like bak kut teh (meat bone soup) and short pants. Worse, they should shun debates on these non-essential matters in Parliament or in the mainstream media. It is a waste of time.
Please leave these trivial matters to where they belong, in the pasar malam (night market), five-foot ways and TikTok.
Politicians should pool all their intellectual efforts together to make this nation a better place for all its people.