A Krismas Carol’ 2013 –by Howard Lee
I woke up to the phrase ‘Bah Humbug!’ as a reply to one of my Facebook Christmas cards this morning from a British friend from way back. It reminded me of one of my favourite authors; Charles Dickens, the man who illustrated the social, political and economic status of Victorian England through his stories.
Apart from watching Christmas movies and exchanging gifts, Christmas is a time for reflection, reminiscence and rejoice. Dickens, through Ebenezer Scrooge told of how the happenings of the past, the actions of the present can affect the future and times-yet-to-come. This Christmas, so shortly after the fateful GE13, all of us, as much as those walking the corridors of power need a trip down memory lane. What better than let me, your stand-in three-in-one Malaysian Ghosts of Christmas (Ghost of Christmas Past, Ghost of Christmas Present, and Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come), take you on that journey.
Before the GE13, Malaysians at home and abroad hung on to the hope that the system of ‘minimalistic democracy’ that we thought we were, will prevail and bring about a change in Government. The election happened; a change in government didn’t. Some people were disappointed and quickly moved on. A lot of people lost hope, but kept calm and carried on, as life must go on. After all nothing has changed, apart from what we previously thought was a ‘minimalistic democracy’, is now unquestionable an ‘electoral autocracy.
The Obama 2013 campaign chanted ‘four more years’ in hope that the President gets another term to finish off what he started, and they found success. We in Malaysia, after the elections, had to murmur those same words in despair, spurring ourselves to get back up whilst licking our wounds after winning so many battles but ultimately losing the war.
The one thing that kept many going was that nothing will change, and the prospect of grinning and bearing for four more years was scary and painful, but doable. BN will continue to be corrupt and sail towards oblivion. The opposition is strong enough, in fact stronger than ever to taper BN’s excess. Or at least that was the rationale at the time.
They call for national reconciliation on the stump, waxing lyrical about unity and togetherness. In reality, they are systematically dismantling the very fabric and foundation of our founding fathers’ visions of a Malaysian Malaysia. This is evident in their increasingly radicalised racial rhetoric and their more-so-than-ever polarising polemical politics.
They bedazzle us with empty yet seemingly liberal and progressive economic policy proposals, what with their saville row suits and equally sharp acronyms and enough corporate jargon to hynoptize the best of us.
The fact remains that the BN government and their cronies are addicted to corruption and power abuse, at the expense of the Rakyat. Now the pit is so deep that they can no longer run away from filling it, they do it by reducing corporate tax, whilst the poor who previous to this don’t qualify to pay tax, now have to pay GST. It is all about wealth creation, but only for the super rich, who are their friends. The policy proposals remains as just that; unimplemented proposals but the money undoubtedly get spent.
The recent subsidy rationalisation and the impending introduction of GST, at a time of economic uncertainty is nothing short of ludicrous and outright barbarous. It is akin to a disease ridden rapist saying to his victim after he has impregnated and infected her that not only she has to now weather her newly acquired disease and carry a rapist's child, she has to pay for her own as well as his medical bills for the foreseeable future and be his slave.
Graphic, but uncannily relative.
It’s safe to say that we were wrong when we thought nothing has changed. Not only are things changing, they’re changing drastically.
A regional, if not global financial crisis is brewing. I have said this in the state assembly as well as in press interviews and statements. Najib himself concurred, citing that its no longer a debate about whether it'll happen but in how we weather it. I would agree.
Tapering of QE3, the property bubbles all over the regions on the brink of bursting, introduction of GST leading to rising commodity prices and cost of living, strangled consumption due to decrease in disposable income… I could go on but, these are enough indicators to reasonably forecast the inevitable.
BN has the power and means being at the seat of government to put all hands on deck to cushion the impact of the impending crisis, by plugging the corrupt leakages, ridding of all incompetent dead wood and starting a fresh with the new mandate he narrowly bought under the table. he certainly has the power to do it , but sadly he does not have the will.
Why? Because that would mean the implosion of UMNO and the collapse of BN as the very foundations of UMNO is propped up by clientalistic cronyism and patronage politics. If he was able to act for the benefit of the country and the Rakyat over his own political survival, he wouldn’t be in UMNO and he wouldn’t be where he is today. He’d have joined the likes of Saifuddin Abdullah.
Ultimately, UMNO and BN will not change one bit by ways of their ways and means of enriching themselves at the expense of the Rakyat. But the fate of the Rakyat is about to take a nose dive into the valleys of darkness and uncertainty. It seems that Najib’s call for the Rakyat to ‘Ubah gaya hidup’ which were resisted those years ago, Najib has taken matters into his own hands to Ubah our gaya hidup for us.
Nothing has changed, but everything’s changed.
PR havs the political will, the track record and a clean, un-checkered and un-baggaged past with no masters to kowtow to other than the Rakyat. PR has proven that they can manage money and 'turn things around'; look at Selangor. They’ve shown that they can make the Rakyat happy and create an environment for them to grow and prosper and even attract drained brains back; look at Penang. They have the staying power to be clean and incorruptible despite being denied the oil revenue that is rightfully theirs, and remain in power for over two decades; look at Kelantan. And for a bit of humility, no they are not perfect, yes they do make mistakes; Look at Kedah.
PR commanded 51% of the popular vote nationally but BN won with a comfortable albeit reduced majority. Notwithstanding the unhealed wound from the Perak crisis in 2009, BN's rubbing of salt in PR’s wound through their gerrymandering, malapportionation and voter transfers managed to deny 55% of a state their chosen state Government; look again at Perak in GE13.
A friend who flew back to help with my election campaign from London told me that he has now officially lost hope for Malaysia. He has initiated his process to apply for British Naturalization and there are little reason why he won’t get it. He’s a consultant paediatric radiographer and, has placed all his properties in Malaysia on the market last week. He is a huge loss to Malaysia, and his words were, “don’t blame me, blame BN.”
I can’t really argue with that. He is not the only drained brain that is now flowed-away for good. There will be countless more.
All that negativity aside, We have another 3-4 years to make sure we wouldn’t have to go through this all over again. Some have suggested that our neighbours in Thailand’s approach to democracy, minus the bloodshed, reflect the same desperation that we in Malaysia feel, we may just need the required factors to crawl out of the woodwork; others have more faith and have started putting in the ‘investment’ of time and effort in campaign for a PR victory in GE14. I agree with both.
Whilst we may lose a small number of Malaysians to hopelessness and helplessness, we will always have new enlightened and empowered Malaysians who are here to stay. I received three new membership application forms to join DAP as life members this last week. They are all under 28 and can’t wait to be part of my GE14 campaign team.
We’re starting to see some evidence of BN caving