Mahathir Using Economic Council to Edge Anwar Out in favour of Azmin Ali?


February 16, 2019

By: Yusoff Rawther

Image result for azmin ali and mahathir

A glance at the newly-announced lineup of Malaysia’s Economic Action Council (EAC) poses more questions than answers. It was formed to respond and take action in addressing economic issues. Objectives include stimulating economic growth, ensuring fair distribution of wealth and improving the well-being of the people as well as focusing on issues related to cost of living, labor, poverty and home ownership.

What is its relevance? It sounds eerily like a cabinet within a cabinet, and at a transitionary period, it looks like a redundant idea that will prove to be merely a political tool.

In less than a year since assuming the premiership, the 93-year-old Mahathir Mohammad has flip-flopped on various issues, most obviously his firmly stated assurance in May 2018 that the victorious Pakatan Harapan coalition would not be accepting turncoats from the losing United Malays National Organization.

Yet, along with the announcement of the creation of the economic action body,  Mahathir happened to embrace seven former UMNO MPs into his own Parti Pribumi Bersatu, an act of betrayal to the people of Malaysia. UMNO was thoroughly discredited as a party corrupt to its very roots – by MPs who were kept loyal to the previous premier, the disgraced Najib Razak, by outright bribes.

Anwar Ibrahim has been unceremoniously left out from the EAC, an indication that Mahathir is once again vying to divert as much power and attention towards the lesser known and underperforming Minister of Economic Affairs, Mohamad Azmin Ali, the former chief minister of Selangor and an ambitious pretender for the leadership of the coalition.

Aside from the fact that the council’s existence shows failure on behalf of the prime minister to appoint qualified people to the cabinet, if we are to accept the premise that the council should exist, the right thing to do is to invite the premier-in-waiting to be a member in a move to demonstrate your confidence in your designated successor to the voters as well as giving Anwar a role to play in contributing to the agenda set forth in the EAC’s charter. Malaysians should beware lest Mahathir smuggles old failings into the mix whilst our attention is held elsewhere.

The political heavy lifting was done by Anwar, who from his prison cell pulled a lax opposition and the complaining class into the fight alongside his supporters to create the conditions for change. Conditions that proved vital in the overthrow of the Barisan Nasional regime.

It is evident that something more than elections are necessary to create a genuine new dispensation of sustainable democratic good governance.

 Creating the EAC and sidelining the PM-in-waiting is not a good indicator of that. Authoritarian rule is not just about figureheads. They use power th to maintain themselves is institutionalized and embedded in deep structures of privilege that corruptly deliver a nation’s bounty into the hands of a chosen few.

If Anwar Ibrahim is the icon for democracy, then Mahathir is the icon and spokesperson of the embedded structures of inequity.

As the principal architect of genuine reform,  to sweep aside the structures of authoritarian control and the inequity they beget, Anwar’s reform agenda seeks to eliminate  corruption, cronyism and nepotism, the elements of a bygone era.

It is the diligence and energy Anwar applies to promoting an alternate vision of good governance, one and of a free and competitive Malaysian economy and harmonious, multiracial society that  made him an important voice not only in Malaysia but around the world. Anwar has spent his career speaking for and articulating an alternative agenda of politics.

As a Deputy Prime Minister during the Asian Financial Crisis I988, Anwar came very close to dismantling the Mahathirist version of crony capitalism when he decided to implement an IMF style austerity program, suspend big-bulge infrastructure investment, and force big businessmen to take care of their own debts.

Anwarnomics promises to do away with state-backed racism. It promises to be inclusive, rules-based and competition-driven with a large, well-funded social safety net and he has reiterated time and again the need for uncompromising reforms.

Here are some of the things he has advocated for, long before the formation of the EAC:

Malaysia’s economic policies should be inclusive and to dismantle obsolete policies such as the New Economic Policy. Positive.

  • discrimination policies must be based on freedom, justice, and equity.
  • A sustainable economy is not one that is mainly driven by consumer spending fueled by high level household debt. “We cannot build a better life for our people if they need two to three jobs just to make ends meet. That is bad economics… even worst social policy.”
  • Affirmative actions taken must be based on needs.
  • It is important to enhance investment, trading and economic ties with China and India which are the engine of growth for global economy.
  • Social protection and poverty eradication remain central to the effort to ensure a better life for all.
  • Greater transparency and public participation is key in ensuring efficiency of social programs, to identify dubious programs, reduce duplication and waste of resources.
  • Economic policies to lure foreign direct investment must not neglect any region or community in the country. It is not a zero-sum game. If we choose to embark on pro-market reforms, it should not be an excessive capitalistic notion ignoring the plight of poor and marginalized.

Given the facts, it is only fair to question Mahathir’s  motives  in creating the EAC while failing to include the next Prime minister.

Malaysia is rich in resources and possibilities. Change will require more than just elections, it requires dismantling the institutional structures of inequity, most of all it will depend upon building the strength and capacity of civil society, the plethora of organizations and associations by which ordinary people hold their governments to account.

Time to create a culture of critical consciousness for citizens wishing to speak truth to power


January 19,2 019

Time to create a culture of critical consciousness for citizens wishing to speak truth to power

by Dr. Azly Rahman

https://www.malaysiakini.com/columns/460011

COMMENT | When the Multimedia Super Corridor was created in the mid-1990s, during Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s first tenure as Prime Minister, the rakyat was promised that the internet would not be censored. Thirty years later, it is still largely uncensored, nor is any grand governmental filter like China’s Green Dam firewall put in place.

Pakatan Harapan cannot always hide behind security laws in the age of greater and more massive free speech as practised by its citizens, especially those who voted for change – real, radical change – and not for some new regime that lies through its teeth.”– Azly Rahman

I was a keen observer of the impact of digital communications technologies on the degree of how nation-states are deconstructed by the power of the technologies that shrink time and space and put distance to death. I wrote a dissertation on this topic, with the birth of Cyberjaya as a case study of hegemony and utopianism in an emerging ‘cybernetic Malaysia’.

Today, the internet in Malaysia is king, the monarch of misinformation but also messenger of good things, delivered instantaneously. What kind of messiah the internet – the most personalising and democratising tool ever invented – will turn out to be we do not know.

How then is a new government – that promised clean, efficient and trustworthy governance – deal with the inherent contradiction of wanting to allow citizens to tell the truth on the one hand, but refusing to be voted out by the tsunami of critiques on anything, on the other?

In cyberspace, on a daily basis, criticisms are mounted as if a great war is brewing. As if a prelude to the yet another storming of our Bastille.

In other words, Pakatan Harapan cannot always hide behind security laws in the age of greater and more massive free speech as practised by its citizens, especially those who voted for change – real, radical change – and not for some new regime that lies through its teeth.

Critical mass

How do we then critique the monarchy, kleptocracy, theology, and ideology – at a time when the powers-that-be seem to be increasingly panicky with the speed by which things are going?

This is a Habermasian question of public space, of “defeudalisation”, and of the way we educate citizen internet vigilantes to exercise free speech in an increasingly authoritarian world.

Consider the scenario the last few weeks. Netizens are getting hauled to the police station for passing comment on the king who abdicated. Not very nice things were said to the monarch.

Pro-monarchy netizens are in an informational war with those angry and dissatisfied with the king who did not tell the country why he went on leave for a few weeks, only to find out later that he was allegedly attending to his own wedding. A racial-antagonistic dimension of this can be discerned.

The Seafield Temple riots in November were made known to the public almost instantaneously with devastating effect, not only on how it got worse, but how the government and the people were trying to deal with the aftermath.

Image result for dr. mahathir

 

Sadly, a firefighter died and this tragedy is, in fact, another example of how the internet is a tool of production of both the truth and fake news. In cyberspace, comments take on a troubling racial and religious dimension.

Most of the promises broken by the new regime were leaked at lightning speed, with widespread implications. From the government’s reluctance to recognise the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC), the news of the new car project being public-funded to some degree, members flocking into Bersatu like locusts from Umno and now the Special Affairs Department (Jasa) to the confusing and annoying statements coming from the Education Ministry, the political appointments to GLCs – all these and many more point to the idea that citizens are using the internet to exercise their rights as voters and citizens.

They are speaking up and able to again decide if a new government that can deliver promises better ought to be voted into power in the next election. The internet is king.

You can think of more examples of how this technology is a double-edged sword both for the ruler and the ruled. And now we see the Sedition Act 1948 about to be used to compel the rakyat to not speak up.

Those having their voice as internet vigilantes against power abusers continue to play their role. It will take a keen anthropologist to catalogue the thousands of comments that exemplify disgust towards the powers-that-be – produced, reproduced, and made viral – as compared to the few that caught the attention of the authorities.

How to critique

The internet is a virgin forest of information with a life of its own. From it emanates the phenomena of the evolution of truth, multiple truths, alternative truths, and post-truths.

It is a very exciting time for philosophers to study the postmodern thinking activities of the human species. And the internet is the location or space of the battlefields of truths fighting against each other, something those in the US military would call the dromological nature of things, or the speed by which politics moves and removes things, and makes or breaks or multiplies whole truths and half-baked truths.

Is the government looking into this phenomenon? Is it looking into how to educate the rakyat not to say nasty things out of anger and ‘cyber-amok’ conditions – even if what is said is the truth – but to teach them how to say the truth with sound reasoning, using the tools of the critique of power and ideology?

Can the Education Ministry or the Communications and Multimedia Ministry at least provide guidelines on how to critique the monarchy, kleptocracy, ideology, and theology, using sound cultural, philosophical, ideological and liberatory means? This will save netizens from writing things that are true, yet unsubstantiated, and end up in jail.

Image result for Cyber jaya

 

The government of any day owes the citizens the promise of education for critical consciousness, so that democracy can evolve nicely, and regimes can come and go if it fails to deliver.

 

It was the internet that helped the new government grab power. It was netizens that helped Harapan win.

Today, the new government must cultivate a new culture of critical consciousness, to teach citizens how to use the Excalibur of the new regime, new excitement, new society. Not for the new emperors to have a newer sword of Damocles hanging over citizens wishing to speak truth to power.

So educate. Teach us how to critique the power abusers be they politicians, theologians, or the monarchs, safely and scientifically.

Wasn’t that the grand promise of Harapan, to leave the idiocracy behind?


AZLY RAHMAN is an educator, academic, international columnist, and author of seven books available here. He grew up in Johor Bahru and holds a doctorate in international education development and Master’s degrees in six areas: education, international affairs, peace studies communication, fiction and non-fiction writing. He is a member of the Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society in Education. Twitter @azlyrahman. More writings here.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

Never-ending bumi policy dashes hope for ‘New Malaysia’


December 31, 2019

by Dr.Kua Kia Soong 

Never-ending bumi policy dashes hope for ‘New Malaysia’

COMMENT | We will be starting the New Year with our hopes for a New Malaysia dashed by the announcement of Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mahathir that the bumiputera agenda (expiry date 1990) will continue.

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The NEP stays for as long as The Malays have political power. Let us not kid ourselves. It is non-negotiable, although I believe it is a major obstacle to Malay economic advancement. Discrimination on the basis of race is a fact.–Din Merican. 

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As in 1970 when the New Economic Policy started, and again in 1990 when the New Economic Policy was replaced by the National Development Policy which then morphed into the New Economic Model in 2010, we are treated to the same ludicrous doublespeak.

Doublespeak has been defined by some as “the ability to accept two conflicting beliefs, opinions, or facts as valid and correct, simultaneously. Doublespeak may happen because of someone being willfully perverse or as a result of faulty logic.” It is of course a word coined by George Orwell in the novel 1984.

Consider this. In the process of announcing the continuation of this Never-ending Bumiputera Policy, the Prime Minister tells Malays to stand without the ‘tongkat’ that the government is going to continue to provide them.

Even more doublespeak was the Bersatu President Muhyiddin Yassin’s pious wish that the implementation of the new bumiputera agenda as part of the Pakatan Harapan government’s core policy “must contribute towards economic growth with benefits enjoyed by all Malaysians”.

Why is it not possible to have an Affirmative Action Policy for the B40?

I find it remarkable that after more than 60 years of affirmative action for the bumiputera, we still cannot find intellectuals who can devise a race-free affirmative action policy! Our scholars and intellectuals have been schooled in the best universities overseas but they still cannot come up with a policy that does not discriminate on the basis of race.

An exception is economist Dr. Mohamed Ariff, who spoke out against such racially discriminatory policies in 2013:

“The NEP had outlived its usefulness and the government must move affirmative action policies from race-based to needs-based. This policy shift will ultimately benefit the Malays as they form the bulk of 40 percent of households in the lower-income bracket… The government’s policies seem to be populist in nature and not focused… hand-outs should only be given in crises, such as famine, as they remove the incentive to work hard. The Malays would not be able to compete in a globalised environment if they continued to depend on hand-outs.”

Image result for terence gomez universiti malaya

 

Prof Terence Gomez has often questioned the race-based criteria for wealth distribution:

“Why the continuing fixation with numbers when many Malaysians, among them even members of BN component parties, have questioned the veracity of these government-released ownership figures? Even if bumiputera equity ownership is increased to 30 percent, would this mean that wealth has been more equitably distributed among members of this community or between them and other Malaysians? And, most importantly, should we continue to perpetuate a discourse on equitable wealth distribution among Malaysians along racial lines?”

At the Bersatu general assembly, the Prime Minister has justified the continuation of this racially discriminatory policy on the grounds that more than 70 percent of the B40 are bumiputera. If that is so, why not have an affirmative action policy for the B40, which would be race-free and would be agreeable with our Icerd obligations? Why practise racial discrimination and be noted as one of the few pariah nations in the world community that do not ratify Icerd?

What happened to the slogans for ‘New Malaysia’, ‘Asian Renaissance’, ‘Malaysian Malaysia’? Have these all been empty slogans? The other leaders of Pakatan Harapan – Anwar Ibrahim, Lim Kit Siang, Mohamad Sabu, P Waythmoorthy, who have condemned racial discrimination in the past – have not said a word about the continuation of the bumiputera agenda announced by the prime minister. Does silence signify consent or indifference?

Litany of crony capitalists

Given the Pakatan Harapan manifesto, it was shocking, though sadly not surprising, to hear Bersatu vice-president Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman (photo above) supporting delegates at its general assembly by calling for government resources to help the party. The former Election Commission chief said Bersatu must do all it could to win elections “by hook or by crook”. He said, “Looking at the situation now, we cannot defend our position as the governing party because the division chiefs are being left out of contracts.” Right, so contracts for the boys!

And was it surprising that throughout the years of the bumiputera agenda, Malaysia has featured high on The Economist’s crony capitalism index. Uncontrolled rent-seeking has allowed politically well-connected billionaires to double their wealth, thereby posing a threat to the free market, The Economist said. These rent-seeking industries include those easily monopolised, and that involve licensing or heavy state involvement, which it said was “prone to graft”.

This skewed bumiputera agenda is at the heart of the kleptocracy problem the Harapan government claims it wants to fix after the GE14.

From the 80s on, Mahathir’s privatisation of state assets ensured the divestment of state capital into the hands of favoured Malay crony capitalists. The success of the NEP in restructuring capital has, in the process, increased class differentiation within the Malay community. Thus, instead of targeting and providing strategic aid to the poor of all ethnic communities, the Umno ruling elite has continued to use the tried and trusted strategies of race-based cash aid and uplift plans aimed at bumiputeras.

Authoritarian populism of the Malaysian state

Image result for book byas Anne Munro-Kua

The truth is, as Anne Munro-Kua has analysed in her book, the Malay ruling elite in Malaysia has relied on an authoritarian populist style of rule to stem the possibility of the peoples from different ethnic communities uniting into a class-based political force and to simultaneously ensure the continued political domination of the Malay-led coalition.

  • A communal populist approach continues to be used to deflect the economic grievances of the Malay labouring classes against capitalist exploitation into a race-based ideological allegiance to the Malay ruling elite. The results from the GE14 will further ensure Harapan rely on such populist policies to try to capture the Malay rural votes.

While bumiputera policies are intended to benefit all bumiputera, the reality is that these policies have been usurped by the privileged Malay elite whose weak enterprise culture and expertise has had damaging consequences for the economic health of the nation. The bureaucracy has grown in tandem with the populist measures by the state capitalist class to carve out bigger and bigger slices of the rural and urban economic pie.

Institutional obstacles to attaining high-income status

According to an IMF working paper, Malaysia, as compared to other Asian countries, faces a larger risk of slowdown stemming from institutional and macroeconomic factors. A recent Asia Foundation Report also points to a compelling need for Malaysia to shift from a race-based to a needs-based policy in order to address imbalances in society and improve the democratic process to ensure good governance and that the rule of law prevails. It points out that poor institutions could deter innovation, hamper the efficiency of resource allocation and reduce the returns to entrepreneurship.

The report goes on to reason that despite the numerous bold policy measures and long-term plans introduced by the government over the years, Malaysia’s economic progress continues to be plagued by a lack of innovation and skills, a low level of investments in technology, declining standards in education, relatively high labour cost and sluggish growth in productivity. These lagging factors can be traced to the continuation of a backward racial discriminatory policy.

Thus far, Malaysia’s education system has failed to produce the skills and talent required to take the country’s economy to the next level. A key obstacle lies in the government’s failure to promote a fair and open economy. The bumiputera policy and insufficient checks and balances continue to hamper the country’s economy, leading to poor practices in governance. Reforms, especially the replacement of racial discriminatory policies with race-free inclusive policies are critically needed to rally the nation to achieve its economic objectives.

Affirmative action based on need, not race

In Malaysia, since the passing of the deadline for the NEP in 1990, it makes developmental sense to implement a new socially just affirmative action policy based on need or class or sector. Thus, if Malays are predominantly in the rural agricultural sector, the poor Malay farmers would be eligible to benefit from such a needs-based policy while the rich Malay land-owning class would not. Only such a race-free policy can convince the people that the government is socially just, fair and democratic.

The cost and consequences of the racially discriminatory policy in Malaysia have been immense especially since the NEP in 1971. It has caused a crippling polarisation of Malaysian society and a costly brain drain.

While the Chinese middle and working classes in Malaysia have largely adapted to this public sector discrimination by finding ways to make a living in the private sector, this has not been so easy for working class Indians.

Many Malaysian Indians have found themselves marginalised, much like the African Americans in the US were, especially after the destruction of the traditional plantation economy. The cost of preferential treatment has also seen greater intra-community inequality, with higher class members creaming off the benefits and opportunities.

More potentially dangerous and insidious is the effect this widespread racial discrimination has had on ethnic relations in this country. Unity can only be promoted through an affirmative action policy based on need, sector or class, never on race.


KUA KIA SOONG is adviser to human rights NGO Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram)..

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

Call me racist but Malays are in decline and it’s our fault – Dr M


December 29, 2018

Call me racist but Malays are in decline and it’s our fault – Dr. M

https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/458169

 

ERSATU AGM | Bersatu chairperson Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s policy speech at the party’s general assembly tonight was full of introspection on the fate of the Malays and their need to be uplifted.

Mahathir said Malays were lagging behind economically but that this was their own fault.

“Yes, I will be accused as a racist for exposing the fate of the Malays and bumiputera. But for 70 years I have seen the decline happening to my people.

 

Image result for The Malays

This Jamal Fella is a parasite

Malaysian Taxpayer-funded New Economic Policy( NEP ) was introduced in 1970. Now it is 2019. When will it end? We are running  out of excuses. And soon we will be out of oil revenues too.

“It is okay if they tarnish my name as long as my race realises the ill fate which will befall them in the future. Realise that this is our own fault. Don’t find fault in others,” Mahathir said in his closing remarks.

He said the Malays must reject their old culture and create a new culture to save themselves. This includes not relying on a tongkat (walking aid), his decades-old term for affirmative action.

Image result for The Malays

Bersatu’s positioning as a Malay party has often been criticised by Pakatan Harapan supporters who want the party to be a multiracial one, similar to their allies.

However, the prime minister said in his speech that it was neither racist nor wrong to fight for the Malays who are separated from the other races by a wealth gap.

He said this was because economic disparity with a racial context was a dangerous combination which must be avoided.

“Race can’t be changed but the gap between the poor and the rich can be narrowed if not eliminated.

“It would be irresponsible of us if we do not try to avert racial riots (due to economic inequality) by at least narrowing the gap between the rich and the poor,” he said.

Standing tall

Earlier in his speech, however, Mahathir said the tongkat can’t be used for the long term. “For the week, a tongkat can help. But aid such as this can’t be maintained. When strength has returned the tongkat must be dropped.

“The idea that the tongkat is a sign of honour is wrong. Maintaining it for self-honour is unfounded,” he said.

Instead, the 93-year-old said those who had honour were those who stood tall on their own.

Bersatu, he said, would act as guardians of the Malays but only temporarily as the Malays must learn to be their own guardians.

This he added, could be achieved if they were no longer poor and successful economically, not politically.

“(We join politics) not to become prime minister, minister, menteri besar, or chief minister. We join politics so that one day we will no longer need to rely on politics.

“We join politics to save and free ourselves and achieve success as a race that is capable of competing with anyone with each and every one of us is capable of standing without a tongkat,” he said.

The three-day Bersatu annual general assembly will end tomorrow.

 

Malaysia: From Harapan ( Hope)-(No Harapan), If UMNO-Centric Politics Only


December 28, 2018

Malaysia: From Harapan ( Hope)- ( No Harapan), If UMNO-Centric Politics  Only

https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/457796

Image result for  Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman

INTERVIEW by Geraldine Tong | Bersatu Youth chief Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman said the government needs to focus on the rakyat’s well-being so that Malaysia does not follow the US in swinging to the other side in the next election.

He said this in response to a question on whether Bersatu would consider opening full membership to non-bumiputera.

“The most important thing now is for us to fight for the future of Malaysia and on issues close to the rakyat’s heart such as the cost of living, housing and others and to give them confidence that… we will defend the constitution.

“We do not want to become like the US, where they elected Barack Obama as President and in the next election, the pendulum swung the other way and they got Donald Trump (as their president),” Syed Saddiq said in a press interview at the Youth and Sports Ministry in Putrajaya.

Now that Pakatan Harapan has become the government, it is time for them to think like a government, he added, though he stressed they must still work hard like an opposition.

They still need to go down to the ground, he said, such as visiting food stalls, having dialogue sessions and having townhall sessions like they used to when they were the opposition.

That is why, he said, Bersatu Youth holds programmes every day, as he believes this is the best way to become closer to the rakyat.

“We cannot, now that we are the government, just go to official events, cut ribbons and hold meetings in our own office and call it a day.

“We have to ensure that we are working like the opposition,” Syed Saddiq said.

Integrity and trustworthy

The Youth and Sports Minister stressed that the Harapan government is dedicated to defending and upholding the Federal Constitution.

At the same time, they want to ensure that their leadership has integrity and is trustworthy, he said.

“We need to ensure that our leadership, which always defends the constitution, will not misuse their position and power when given them.

“It is no use for us to shout about defending the Federal Constitution but our hand is behind our backs stealing money (or) shouting ‘long live the Malays’ but our right hand is stealing money from Felda or Tabung Haji.

“I think what the rakyat wants, what the Malays want, is a line-up of Malay leaders who are trustworthy and have integrity, who can move towards Malaysia’s future together,” he said.

Bersatu, he said, needs to live up to these expectations, especially in the wake of the rally to protest the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Icerd).

Though Syed Saddiq dismissed the anti-Icerd rhetoric as a sign that the opposition has no other issues to bring up, he said it is still important for Bersatu to play its role in deflecting such negative perception.

“Bersatu needs to play the essential role in deflecting this negative perception and prove that the new Malaysian government will continue to uphold the Federal Constitution.

“(We need to focus on) core issues.

“Even there are pressures from UMNO and PAS to go to the extreme right, we should not go to the extreme right. We should not go to the extreme left. We must always be in the centre,” he said.

The three-day Bersatu general assembly will kick off tomorrow at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre.

 

 

 

What to take into 2019


December 27,2018

What to take into 2019

  Real change will never happen”

COMMENT | We live in dispiriting times. The sombre mood on the ground is reminiscent of Najib Abdul Razak days, just that the mood isn’t that “change will not happen”, but that “real change will never happen”.

Image result for dr.mahathir mohamad

Most people are frustrated, and the government’s plea for time to “clean up the mess” is not compatible with how people lead their lives. For most people, they cannot wait another few months or years before tangible improvements will be seen and felt.

The new government is not your child nor is it your master. On May 9, 2018, we did not vote in a new government because of their competence or characters as individual politicians; instead, we voted in people who could carry the cause.This means that the only thing that we must protect at every juncture is the cause, and as long as we remember the sanctity of the cause, we must ensure the current agent, the Harapan government, follows through with this.”–James Chai

 

Our children cannot wait for the government to come up with a grand vision for education before entering Standard One in January; our staff cannot wait for the government to improve business cash flow and market liquidity before getting their monthly salary; our families cannot wait for the government to provide more disposable income before we can spend for the upcoming festivities.

Be that as it may, most people still keep their complaints dormant. This is because there is a sense of ownership in this new government and the people are still afraid of going back to the dark Najib days. That explains why people are additionally furious whenever Najib speaks up because behind that fury is anxiety that fears the return of the old.

So when Najib’s social media popularity soared above all other politicians lately, the same time Pakatan Harapan’s underperforming ministers are being gradually exposed, our nightmare seems to move closer into reality.

However, this is a misconception.

The new government is not your child nor is it your master. On May 9, 2018, we did not vote in a new government because of their competence or characters as individual politicians; instead, we voted in people who could carry the cause.

In other words, on May 9, it wasn’t the Harapan coalition that won; it was the cause that has won.

This means that the only thing that we must protect at every juncture is the cause, and as long as we remember the sanctity of the cause, we must ensure the current agent, the Harapan government, follows through with this.

The cause that we signed up for was for there to be a more equitable and prosperous country where the country would experience the growth that is shared equitably without the political elites taking it for themselves.

We wanted a government to carry out the cause for institutional reforms so that the fountains of our principles, values and beliefs can flow without the disturbance of human greed and indiscretion. We wanted an end to corruption and abuse of power, and a government that listens to the grievances of the people – this we made explicit.

On top of that, we must also remember that we have fought for the cause to succeed organically from the ground and that it was not easy.

Not a single international analyst in the world expected us to succeed. They unanimously predicted a comfortable victory for the BN political elite. At best, they said Harapan would make some gains compared to the last term.

We voted for the cause

They could not be blamed because the former BN political elites controlled everything. You could not speak your mind because the narrative on the mainstream media was controlled by the establishment.

You could also not cast your votes equitably since the principle of “one man, one vote” was violated to its core with gerrymandering and malapportionment. You could not seek justice and freedom because the institutions of the judiciary, executive and legislative had long been reduced to being merely pliant tools of the government.

The official economic numbers at that time were also highly encouraging, but not reflective of the economic mood on the ground. Most analysts assumed that since the official GDP numbers were higher than the rest in the region, the BN political elites had things under control.

The implied assumption was also that the Malaysian people on the ground were generally submissive and deferential people. As long as there is still food on the table, albeit lesser than before, Malaysians would willingly accept corruption and abuse of power at the top.

International observers had also long lumped Malaysia together with other South East Asian countries where there is at best a semi-democracy, and typically an authoritarian, strongman rule.

However, on May 9, we have proven to the world that we are the crown jewel of the region. We are a nation of principles and will not bow down to leaders running the country if they run us down. Despite all the cheating, bribing and stealing, we mobilised ourselves on the ground and we have realised the impossible.

At a time like this, it is difficult to remember and situate how significant that event is in the history of the world. But I plead for all Malaysians never to forget how hard we have fought for the cause to succeed – and we shall bring this spirit into the new year.


JAMES CHAI works at a law firm. His voyage in life is made less lonely with a family of deep love, friends of good humour and teachers of selfless giving. This affirms his conviction in the common good of people: the better angels of our nature. E-mail him at jameschai.mpuk@gmail.com

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.