October 6, 2016
Malaysia: Political Chaos by Design
Politics is behind the current situation in the country by acts of unpunished acts of intimidation and poor governance,
by Lim Sue Goan
UMNO’s Jamal Ikan Bakar Yunos
The political chaos that is currently sweeping the nation has stems from the 1Malaysia Development Berhad scandal, the RM2.6 billion political donation, Malaysia Official 1 affair, and a host of other issues. But it is the selfishness and the opportunistic character of our politicians that has worsened the whole situation.
I am offering two instances here to support my argument that politics is actually the root cause of our country’s current malaise.
The Bersih 5 nationwide roadshow kicked off recently, and the Red Shirts Group led by Sungai Besar UMNO Division Chairman Jamal Ikan Bakar Yunos simultaneously launched their counterattack with the apparent motive of dissuading the public from taking part in Bersih’s November 19 rally.
UMNO’s Red Shirts
Sure, in a democratic country, the Red Shirts have the right to gather peacefully provided their action does not break the law. However in Perak, the Red Shirts motor convoy attacked Bersih 5 vehicles in a clear violation of the country’s laws. Given rising racial tensions, it is mandatory of the Police to take decisive actions to prevent law-breaking acts in the future.
During their September 16 rally last year, the Red Shirts intruded into Petaling Street Chinatown, Kuala Lumpur and engaged in physical clashes with the Policemen on duty. This caused a diplomatic row when the Chinese Ambassador to Malaysia (pic above) visited the place.
Unfortunately, such behavior was endorsed by some of our politicians. It is the politicians who have twisted our laws to serve their purpose of fomenting discord. Another instance is the mass exodus by Sabah Pakatan Harapan leaders led by the state Opposition leader Lajim Ukin, reflecting the reality that party-hopping is still very much the byword of Sabah politics.
Lajim Ukin–A Sabah Political Opportunist
Although these Opposition leaders claimed that they jumped the ship to strengthen the local Opposition front on the pretext of fighting for greater autonomy for Sabah, no one can deny that they might be eyeing to expand their own influence, given the increasing might of UMNO in the state.
Setting up more local Opposition parties will not fortify the state Opposition but will instead intensify existing conflicts. Take the Likas seat as an example. Following the departure of state assemblyman Wong Hong Jun, it is certain that DAP will not give up the seat in the coming general election, and the eventual three-cornered fight will only benefit the ruling coalition.
Moreover, Lajim’s past record has been anything but convincing. He betrayed PBS immediately after the 1994 state election, causing the collapse of the PBS state government in favour of Barian Nasional (BN). He later joined UMNO but was not on good terms with Chief Minister Musa Aman, and subsequently switched to PKR. There is no guarantee a person with this kind of record will not hop again at a crucial moment.
How can we expect a change of government if the people in the state have lost their faith in the Opposition? By right a confidence crisis within UMNO should provide an excellent opportunity for the Opposition. Unfortunately, such an opportunity has been lost as a result of the politicians’ own selfishness.
There are many other instances of irresponsible politicians creating chaos in the country. All of a sudden an UMNO Minister gives the green light for PAS President Abdul Hadi Awang to table a Private Member’s Bill on amendments to the Shariah law, posing a serious threat to our secular system of constitutional governance.
UMNO Youth Vice-Chief Khairul Azwan Harun makes a Police report, accusing without any evidence whatsoever, the alleged involvement of three former senior government officials in a plot to overthrow the Prime Minister. And now Jamal Md Yunos insinuates that Bersih is being infiltrated by Islamic State elements.
To end all this chaos, it is imperative that we tackle the problem from a political perspective. Nevertheless, what we see now is that regulatory bodies have been lagging in their effort to rein in such irresponsible acts, even to the extent of condoning the troublemakers.
Take the case of the National Consultative Committee on Political Financing. By right the law should be tightened but in its place, the committee has proposed not to cap the quantum of political donations. As if that is not enough, the committee has even proposed to remove the upper limit of election campaign expenditure.
Psy Gangnam Style
We all still remember the absurd campaigning in Penang during the last general election. Other than a high-profile stage appearance by Korean singer Psy, there were also lucky draws, cash handouts and free dinners.
I wonder how our future election campaigns will be conducted in the absence of a limit on campaign expenditure. The committee should have done much more than this, and should have proposed asset declaration by Cabinet members and senior government officials, as well as heavy penalties for those flouting the rules, as some other countries have done.
Other than monitoring political donations, the government must also make laws to stem racial discrimination and prevent politicians from stirring up racial tension. Politicians must come under the watchful eyes of the authorities more, so that they do not throw our society, national economy and communal relations into complete chaos.
Regretably, since these are the very people who dominate and manipulate the legislative power, we simply cannot pin too much hope on them to curb their own excesses.
Lim Sue Goan writes for Sin Chew Daily