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The present Malay dilemma

Posted: 17 Jun 2013 03:01 PM PDT

Malay political leaders who have achieved the pinnacle of their career do so by a combination of guile, political pedigree and money – plenty of money.


Malays who are pillars and leaders of society, Malays who are in high public offices, Malays possessing great executive and political power with wide discretion in using that power and minimal accountability, will, more often than not, misuse that power to their personal advantage, resulting in the detriment of the very people whom they lead.

This was true of the Sultans who were not hesitant on calling upon the British to safeguard their royal prerogatives while surrendering their interest, that of their subjects and of their country into the avaricious hands of the British.

The British then proceeded to hand over part of our nation in the north to Thailand and unilaterally reigned over Pahang, Terengganu, Kelantan, Selangor, Johor, Kedah and Perak – appointing themselves as "advisors" to these Sultans "whose advise must be acted upon".

In the process Sultans who were compliant with the wishes of the British were put on the thrones of Kedah, Perak and elsewhere and whatever changes deemed necessary by the British to the constitution of Malaya to reflect the interest of the British – changes that have literally changed forever the very foundation of our nation – for good and for bad.

This is also true of Umno from the time they took government after Merdeka to this very day where political power in their hands were abuse for the personal gain of their own kind to the detriment of the Malays and our nation.

And it is true today of those Malays who have been privileged to hold high public office and who then proceed to sell their executive powers along with their integrity and credibility to the highest bidders while taking for themselves whatever could be taken from our national coffers.
How cheaply they sell themselves and how little they care for the common good of our people and our nation! They do not seem to understand that with great power comes great responsibility.

This not to say that all Malays with power will misuse that power but the prevalence of this scourge amongst Malay leaders plagues too many of them, so many that it raises the question of whether the Malays can really lead responsibly.

As a Malay, it pains me to raise that question that only a Malay can rightfully ask of his own leaders before others ask it – if that is not already being done.

For the Malays, the sum of the negatives far outweighs the positive. Our problems are multi dimensional but none more so than the dearth of worthy leaders to lead us in this darkest hour of our nation, if not of the Malays.

Malay political leaders who have achieved the pinnacle of their career do so by a combination of guile, political pedigree and money – plenty of money.

It is never by being a force for common good and for positive change within their party, within government and for the people and our nation.

It gives rise to the question as to what they will do once power is in their hands. How will they sustain and keep their hold on power? With guile, with an over dependence on their political pedigree (for whatever it is worth), and with money too?

And none reflect this more than the two alpha Malay leaders that now take centre stage in our political life – Anwar Ibrahim and Najib Tun Razak.

Abusing the trust

Both had greatness thrust upon them at an early age not by their own accord but by others. Najib because of his pedigree and Anwar by Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Whether deserved or not of that greatness, both then proceeded with unrestrained aplomb to abuse the trust placed upon them.

Najib through his personal indiscretion and a lacklustre political career, Anwar by his rabid attempts at consolidating around him political power and the financial means to achieve that power.

Today we know enough of these two individuals to wonder how is it that after all that they have done to themselves, to our people and to our country, they are still at the top of the heap amongst the Malays, nay amongst all Malaysian, to be able to give us no other choices for our leaders but themselves! How is this so?

Are the Malays selling themselves short? Of course we are! We deserve better! We cannot be silent anymore.

We cannot continue doing nothing anymore, and there is no time quite like the present if the Malays are to awake and begin the process of stopping the rot. Otherwise that saying "Takkan Melayu hilang di dunia" will no longer have any relevance or the ability to move future generations of Malays as it has moved Malays in the past.

Today the Malays are synonymous with political power – failed political power and abused political power!

Political power has been misused and abused for so long because the institutional framework that makes this possible exists. And it exists because of this outdated and horrendous belief that the majority rules, that the minority and the individual can be egregiously discriminated against with impunity by those in power, that justice will not prevail.

The result of the 13th general election is a travesty of what majority rule should be all about when it was first institutionalised by Umno in the time when it had its two-third majority in Parliament.

During that time, majority for Umno meant consolidating and maintaining their two-third majority in Parliament. This they proceeded to do by manipulating district boundaries to create a disproportionate political advantage for themselves.

It is like a household comprising of the father, mother and four children. The mother and the four children are given one vote each when it comes to deciding where they should go for a holiday.

The father gives himself six votes. So no matter how they vote it is the father who will have his way over the others. In Malaysia, Umno is the father and we are the rest of the family.



The Opposition’s new mandate

Posted: 17 Jun 2013 12:28 PM PDT

In moments like these, it is easy to hate the arbitrary nature and high-handedness of the ruling government too. This is all the more the case when the ruling establishment, once again, is showing signs of attempting to remain in power on the sly. 

Nurul Izzah Anwar 

Thousands of Malaysians voted abroad during the 13th general election. Many more returned from Singapore, Australia, Hong Kong, London and Taiwan, traditionally places with large numbers of Malaysians, to exercise their right to suffrage on May 5th.

This is a peculiar phenomenon.

Why do Malaysians who have found greener pastures abroad feel compelled to return to the country to cast their ballot? This certainly goes against the thesis of Albert O. Hirshman — who argued in a famous treatise in 1970 that when people have the chance to leave, they will, especially if they have found the entity to be increasingly dysfunctional and inefficient.

Malaysia, or rather its government, over the last few decades, has certainly manifested such features.

Concurrently, those who decided to 'stay back' would attempt to improve the country by voicing out. Be that as it may, those who have left the country are not expected to express their voices anymore let alone to vote. Yet, vote they did.

The quick and short answer to the above phenomenon is that they care. Indeed, not only do they care about the future of their immediate and extended families still in Malaysia, but they care about Malaysia, period.  

And that is where Malaysia draws its greatest pride from — Malaysians and their sense of belonging, of camaraderie.

Beyond caring, they also know, through their collective exposure in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore, if not as far away as United Kingdom, Japan and Australia, that Malaysia has been back-pedaling, especially on issues like corruption and crime let alone in building a vibrant democracy.

Take corruption, for example. The national debt to gross domestic product (GDP) ratio at 54 per cent, it is one per cent shy of the constitutional limit; and this figure is a conservative estimate. When one lumps in the debt of the government linked companies (GLCS), often with the element of corruption still at work, the ratio is easily in the range of the mid-70s.

While many do not like to use the B word (i.e. bankcruptcy), the next generation is expected to foot the financial profligacy of the present one. Malaysians abroad share the same concern and anxieties with those at home.

Not surprisingly, up 75 to 85 per cent of the voters abroad, almost without fail, voted for the opposition according to exit polls.

Like the 51 per cent of the people in Malaysia, they chose to throw their lot with Pakatan Rakyat, this despite the fact that Pakatan Rakyat did not have any offices or representatives outside the country.

In fact, one may even wonder if they did so purely to register their disgust with Barisan National, rather than due to any objective attachment to Pakatan Rakyat; a trend that was discernible across all racial groups in urban areas from 2008 onwards.

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