Malaysians at crossroads

Posted on December 15, 2017


many-colours-one-dream923089_576322912401152_1069880995_n Editor’s note : The views expressed here do not reflect, in toto, that of the blog owner.

By Singa Terhormat

Both the Najib and Mahathir camps are blaming each other for abuse and misuse of power while in office. Whether it was Mahathir or Najib who did worse in mismanaging the country and the economy, one fact is indisputable—-it was done under a Barisan Nasional Government.

The fact itself that such abuses took place speaks volumes about the impotence of those institutions that are supposed to safeguard the interests of the rakyat. Over time the role and power of these institutions were eroded until it now appears that the only role they serve is to prop up the powers that be.

It also speaks volumes about the Barisan Nasional Governments that whoever the leader is, it is not averse to trampling on the rights of, and to disregard the interests of, the rakyat, in its quest to remain in power and to enrich the privileged class comprising  themselves, their families and their cronies.

It is not then merely a matter of personality as to who is at the helm. It appears to make no difference at all as each BN leader is in it for his/her own ends.

What is required is a complete overhaul of the system of Government including those institutions that are designed to protect the rakyat against abuse but have failed miserably. Who can we look to, to have those changes effected?

Barisan Nasional? They are incapable of change as evidenced by their arrogance and reluctance if not downright refusal to reform. Their system of patronage and money politics is just too deeply ingrained and their unquenchable lust for wealth, power and status flows through their veins.

60 years of uninterrupted power has made them rotten to the core. As the saying goes, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

What about the Opposition, Pakatan Harapan? They have amongst them a number of ex-BN leaders. Can they bring about reform? Should we fully trust these ex-BN leaders? My answer will be ‘No’.

Pakatan Harapan however have amongst them leaders who have never tasted power and who have borne the brunt of the Government’s abuse and misuse of power. Leaders like Mat Sabu, Lim Guan Eng, Gobind Singh Deo and Nurul Izzah will want to introduce reforms and are unlikely to back down from the need to reform the very institutions that are meant to protect the interests of the rakyat.

Many have lamented that if Mahathir is to become Prime Minister again then Malaysia is back to square one and nothing changes. I do not agree for several reasons.

Firstly, the party that Mahathir heads, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM), is the weakest amongst all the parties in Pakatan Harapan. It is a relatively new party and is yet to develop into a strong, united party with an election machinery to boast of. Mahathir does not have a stranglehold of power over Pakatan Harapan the way he earlier had over the Barisan Nasional. He will not be able to impose his will over Government but will have to consult and secure the agreement of the other Pakatan Harapan component parties in major decision-making. If he nevertheless chooses to do so, he will not only have the distinction of being the longest-serving Prime Minister of Malaysia, but also the shortest-serving.

Next, Mahathir is already in his 90s. He surely can have no long-term ambitions. As he himself has acknowledged, he would, if at all, serve merely as an interim Prime Minister. Perhaps he may endeavour to assist his son, Mukhriz, up the political ladder. Frankly, I would any day rather have Mukhriz serve as a Cabinet Minister than some of the trash that we now have.

Further, for someone in his 90s with a long history of heart trouble to constantly travel throughout the country at risk to his health, including deep into Felda settlements and late into the night, rather than lead a languid and pleasant life in his last years, suggests to me a man who is aware of mistakes he has committed in the past and feels the responsibility to try and put things right. Some demand an apology from him. To me, his actions speak far louder than any words can.

I am no fan of Mahathir and I daresay that during the time of his imperialistic ways, it would have been difficult to come across anyone who despised him more than me. But if the man and his family who suffered the greatest humiliation under his rule, Anwar Ibrahim, Wan Azizah, Nurul Izzah and others in that family are prepared to work with him for the betterment of Malaysia, then who are we to say that we should not? If Lim Kit Siang, Mat Sabu and many others who were detained under the ISA during his time can find it in themselves to sit alongside and work with him for the sake of the nation, then who are we to say that we should not?

Do we have alternatives? The only viable person, Anwar Ibrahim, is in prison and is, pending a royal pardon, ineligible to contest in the elections. I would rather give the benefit of the doubt and take my chances with a man who knows he has not long more to meet his Maker than a bunch of known kleptocrats who can only destroy this nation and who think nothing of lying and deceiving us. In this we have no other practical alternative. And if we need an added reason, I would any day rather have Siti Hasmah or Wan Azizah grace Govermental functions with their presence rather than you know who.

Where a party has a monopoly of power over a sustained long period, it is inevitable that it becomes rotten. That is what has happened to the Barisan Nasional. Where however there is no monopoly of power by a single party, then they have to learn to compete with each other in winning over the hearts of the rakyat. Just like in the case of a business where there is competition, the consumer gets a better deal. In business parlance, the consumer is king and is always right. Likewise where there is no monopoly over power, the rakyat will get a better deal as each side tries to win them over. Hence it is imperative for the rakyat to break the monopoly that the Barisan Nasional party has had over Government for the last 60 years.

UMNO uses and will resort to its usual racist policies to divide the people in its bid to remain in power. To the rural Malays it uses its bogeyman, the DAP. It tells them that if Pakatan Harapan were to succeed, the DAP and the Chinese in Malaysia will rule and the Malays and Islam will be vanquished and lost forever. This will not and can never happen.

Will PPBM and Amanah, which are made up wholly of Malays and PKR, which is largely Malay, condescend to this? Will even the Malays in the DAP remain silent?

Will the Malay Rulers remain silent? Will the Armed Forces which is Malay-based sit by idly? Most certainly not.

Rather, if it is Chinese-dominance that the Malays worry over, it is UMNO and by extension the Barisan Nasional who are selling out this country piecemeal to China and which will invariably not just undermine the Malays but indeed all the people of Malaysia.

GE15 will have to be held within 5 years of GE14. So what is there for the Malays to fear?

If Pakatan Harapan fails them within those 5 years, kick them out and adopt then whatever that they are comfortable with. It most certainly is not a lifelong sentence and irreparable. In any event, what lasting damage can be done within that short period of 5 years as opposed to further continuation of being ruled by a bunch of kleptocrats who hesitate not in abusing and misusing their positions?

The ultimate power rests with the rakyat and it is the rakyat who must play its role in ‘watching over’ the Government. Let it be Mahathir or Anwar or anyone else, the rakyat have to realize that the leaders it puts in place are meant to serve them and not to ‘lord’ over them and that the positions entrusted to them are positions of trust and not power to do as they please. For far too long leaders have ceased to be accountable to their masters, the rakyat. The rakyat have now to rise and demand for what is rightfully theirs, that the leaders govern truthfully, transparently and accountably.

The first and most important step to be taken is to put an end to the monopoly of power that UMNO and the Barisan Nasional have enjoyed a stranglehold over. Let not future generations condemn us for having failed them and this nation.