overthrow of BN in the 14th general election was primarily fueled by
the largesse of Umno leaders and their cronies redlining the spending
engine into overdrive.
The response of Pakatan Harapan has been to
pump the brakes while shifting into reverse. Try that in your Proton
and you’ll be on the bus faster than you can say “national car”.
fact is, then and now, the only ones riding smoothly through the storm
has been the political and business elite. This is not unique to
Malaysia, of course.
Global income inequality is the dominant seed
for social and political upheaval across the world, and the loudest
rallying cry for nationalists and nationalism everywhere – from Donald
Trump to Narendra Modi to Brexit to Italy’s Five Star and France’s
In Malaysia, nationalism is termed identity politics
and we are heading down that sinkhole again, thanks to Umno and PAS
playing on the highly-strung nerves of disgruntled middle and lower
class voters – ironically the same demographic that got shafted by them
in the last two terms of the former administration.
Do you think
it’s likely to be different this time? That answer is ‘yes’, it will be
far worse for those left outside the power and moneyed elite.
only will they lose the continuity of the policies instituted by
Harapan, following the major initiatives of its rakyat-friendly
manifesto, but there will be a new raid on the goodies by those at the
top of the hierarchy.
This ugly truth of the reality of political
change is the land grab by the new incoming kings and kingmakers.
Democracy, after all, is a costly affair for the average Joe.
we do know is that Harapan tightened the belt as soon as it took
office, and Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s first order of business was the
restoration of the nation’s financial assets.
contrast, the “cash is king” dictate of the Najib Abdul Razak regime
resulted in a feeding frenzy more in common with African dictatorships
than Asian democracies. The definition of insanity is doing the same
thing over again and expecting a different result.
While it is the
right of the people to choose their leaders, flawed as ever they may
be, it is nevertheless the dutiful obligation of those leaders to
exercise their power with honor and responsibility.
The leaders of
a democratic nation, or for that matter an autocratic one, are the last
defence of the common citizen. History has shown that ignoring this
golden rule of service will result in a decline and demise of the state.
were perhaps oblivious to this over the last 62 years, under
single-party dominated rule. Even states that appear to be exempt from
this rule, like Singapore under PAP, will eventually succumb if they do
not change their ways of arrogance and impunity.
The case for this was made ever so elegantly by Diana Sharma, an 89-year old Singaporean pensioner, in an open letter to PAP party cadres posted online.
two impassioned pleas were for the elites to 1) recognise the current
state of affairs and to 2) serve with moral integrity. She asks for
leaders to stand alongside common citizens to give them support against
ever-rising cost-of-living, and increasing their income so that they can
participate in the knowledge-based, high wages economy.
digital transformation looms this has never been truer, and must include
fair access to education and training for all. She asks that we reflect
deep in ourselves to see if we are serving the people’s best interests;
and if not to step away from our self-interest alone and contribute
towards building a system that contributes to equality and the common
good, over the interests of the elitist few.
Harapan would be
well-served to take her sage advice as a means of avoiding our own early
demise in GE15. By-elections results have shown that we have many
Dianas lurking within our own voting ranks.
It is still doable as Harapan has some time. About 3.5 years.
Dr. Rais Hussin is President & CEO of EMIR Research, an independent think tank focused on strategic policy recommendations based on rigorous research.