In the early hours of December 29, 2015, I wrote a piece on the topic of multiculturalism that somehow emerged into a personal “ranting” of sorts and had submitted it to The Malaysian Insider, out of the sudden spur from spontaneous instinct.
Just to clarify, I had not written any sort of serious article for years (only several unfinished drafts here and there, every now and then) thus leading to my own astonishment as to what exactly had came over me on that particular morning to convey what can be considered as a rather amateurish writing.
And after reflecting back upon it, there were indeed plenty of glaring shortcomings with that hasty article I made. Also, from the general feedback that I’ve received, I’m in agreement with some readers that it was quite a challenging experience to go through and more alarmingly was very vague in manner.
It just didn’t harmonise well enough, I supposed. Hence, sincere apologies from myself.
This article however, does not aim to elaborate further on the same points highlighted previously nor claim to be a better correction of it but rather attempts to ambitiously shift away towards more humble kind of thoughts shared that would hopefully be able to resonate with the readers.
Allow me to begin by expressing a common worry.
Malaysia as a whole is going through a very tough phase at the moment. Never has it found itself in such a desperate, insulting and vulnerable situation in its relatively brief history of nationhood.
There has always been a kind of optimistic belief and positive spirits in the past (maybe from the “Takpa” and “Boleh” attitude) among the citizens that pride themselves as robust, modern and capable people.
It’s gone now.
The many “transformative” aspirations brought forth at the start of the sixth prime minister’s tenure are now nowhere to be seen, as a matter of fact has descended badly into what had been continuously lauded early on by the now lacklustre and pathetic looking opposition coalition when they label it as a “corrupt regime”.
There has not been a single mark of achievement worth mentioning these past few years despite Malaysia being privileged on many occasions to address and even chair multiple international as well as regional platforms. It went from trying to be inclusive with the failed 1Malaysia brand, to being “ultra-rated Rs” that are Race, Religion and Royalty.
Now new “Rs” are also making an appearance. Robbery being one of them.
I’ll leave the rest of the “Rs” to the creative imagination.
The first political gesture made (and there has certainly been plenty of such gestures) after winning on circumstantial grounds the 13th general election, was to make a surprise drop-by and walk-about to Petaling Street, Malaysia’s “Chinatown” in the busy city of Kuala Lumpur.
It was meant to be symbolic. Now, it’s just plain shambolic.
From the autocratic to the incompetent, the theme of the moment for the ruling government has mutated into that which is best described as shameless, bordering pure nonsense. The political game played at the top, enjoyed by the elites and adore by the “macais” has cause so much turmoil for everyone else.
Adding salt to the wounds, a once ideal two-party system has more or less been dismantled by the struggling government and it’s very hardworking “cyber-troopers”.
Also contributing is the internal turmoils within parties done by ego personas, clan clashes and the obvious idealogical differences left unresolved across the opposition pact leading to its eventual break-up and current state of disarray.
There is a running joke that fits when portraying our sad quality of local politics that chants fabulous slogans but always is consistent to disappoint, much like our national sports adventures. Not only has it been “janji dicapati”, but also has turn into “ini karilah” as jibes to their respective rhetorics.
Seizing the opportunity of a disunited opposition, and after so much costly set-backs, idiotic public relations catastrophes and a variety of controversial scandals to choose from, the ruling government made aggressive moves with its strategies to demonise their opponents and provoking mistakes that benefit their situation using their superior experience of governance as well as available media instruments.
Reusing many “beloved” tactics of old to remind us and clamp down on the ever-present “culture of fear” such as sodomy, Hudud law, Israel, Singapore, ideological threat to security, Shia-Wahabbi labels, Liberal-Secular tags, “Bumiputeraism”, May 13 incident, the distorted history for independence, the pre-Malaya era and Malacca Sultanate.
Then pushing it up a notch by enhancing them to the extreme levels yet applicable in line with the changing times, the ruling government has certainly perfected the “art” of pursuing and sustaining power in the political realm dominated by Niccolo Machiavelli’s “end justifies the means” nowadays.
In response, a once dreamt “Hibiscus Spring” never materialise, as the social mobilisation particularly in rural districts was never able to reach critical mass and vocal impact like that in neighbouring Indonesia during it’s “Reformasi Movement” or Philippines’s popular “People Power Revolution”.
The closest Malaysia ever got to making such massive public participation was with the “Reformasi Wave” in 1998 as a spill over from the efforts to topple Suharto’s regime in Indonesia and the more recent Bersih rallies that in a way mirror the yellow protests against Marcos’s regime in Philippines after the Aquino Sr. assassination.
And on both occasions for Malaysia, it’s very own Asian version of Nelson Mandela was incarcerated unjustly, making it a living nightmare for the rakyat that sees no end to spectacular dramas and regretted tragedies much like the stupid soap operas and rubbish hedonistic entertainment found abundant here.
Credit must be given to the prime minister Najib Razak for being able to avoid turning into a lame-duck leader that leaves behind a quite uninspiring legacy similar to what has befallen upon US President Barrack Obama, with whom he has a special relationship with.
Obama had came onto the world stage promising much idealism and ushered in new hope as did Najib to a certain extent when he took over the reigns from the much forgotten Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (after being “killed off” by the Malaysian maverick himself, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed).
Obama has ended up struggling near the end of his term trying to maintain his rhetorical policies and idealistic principles that he believes in while enduring many valid criticism by powerful lobbyist and pragmatic utilitarians causing him to suffer greatly as his speeches of hope are at odds with his realities.
Najib however had been advised wisely by his alert strategists to change his entire original manifestos, policies and principles that had earlier emulated the same “transformation” campaign of Obama and other bright leaders, into a more “despotic” operation of Mahathir and other infamous dictators.
Not even the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), good and services tax (GST), Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), LRT fare and highway toll hikes,
increase in daily expenses, rise in crime rates, National Feedlot Corporation, Lahad Datu intrusion, Malaysia Airlines tragedies, depreciating ringgit, abuse upon organs of government, Jho Low links, media monopoly, the failed Automated Enforcement System (AES), a feed-the-homeless ban, personal luxurious lifestyle, Scorpene submarine scandal, Wang Kelian graveyard, K-Pop, recurring racial clashes, new security laws, record number of activist arrests, Felda, Tabung Haji and The Malaysian Islamic Economic Development Foundation (Yapeim) scandals, and plenty more – none appears to be able to bring him down.
Compare those to the mega projects – Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ), Lingam tapes, Ops Lalang, PPSMI, Tan Sri Chua Soi Lek, Highland Towers tragedy, Tan Sri Tajuddin Ramli bailout, Perwaja Steel, Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud and project IC in Sabah – not mentioning the list of those that are traditionally sacked as deputy prime ministers preaching reform while silly ministers and officials take centre stage.
The ruling government has indeed overstayed its welcome. But alas, no credible alternative is available. Except for those that never read history and are hoping on a miracle from the Kingdom of Johore. Perhaps the problem isn’t only politicians but rather the feudalistic tendencies of its large majority and profane demands of certain minorities.
Malaysia needs to seriously begin immediate repairs to lay good foundations for sustainable long-term solutions. To me, the answer lies with the young generation and their educative processes.
Turns out, I can’t seem to refrain myself from rambling. – January 4, 2016.
Halmie Azrie Abdul Halim
PKPIM & ABIM Activist
*This article has been published in The Malaysian Insider,