As we approach Merdeka Day, one thing is too obvious not to be noticed.
This observation that I make will answer the question I pose: “How can BN gain back people’s confidence after 2008?”
Sixty years have passed and BN has ruled the nation. This year is crucial as it may be the coming general election that will decide whether Malaysia will return to BN or see a change of government at the federal level.
On August 31, 2017–In stead of rejoicing, we Malaysians mourn the state of our country. After 60 years of Merdeka, we are being colonised by corrupt and racist UMNO kleptocrats and their partners in MCA, MIC, Gerakan.–Din Merican
My observation is based on the mood of the people as we approach Merdeka Day. It is obvious that the flags are not flying. By now, most shops would be carrying the Malaysian flag and cars would be adorned with the Jalur Gemilang.
But, unless some arm-twisting tactics are used, by now the flags would be all over the place. Patriotism is not something that can be forced. It has to come from the people’s own sentiments.
Although patriotism has nothing to do with giving support to the government of the day, its absence can indicate the people’s sentiments and confidence towards those in the powers of corridor.
This year is the 60th anniversary since Malaysia achieved its independence from the British colonial government in 1957, yet Malaysians are generally lukewarm about the celebration this year.
Why are Malaysians not showing their patriotism?
It does not cost more than RM10 to purchase a Malaysian flag, but could it be that Malaysians are unwilling to fork out even that amount of money, not forgetting the additional 60 sen for the Goods and Services Tax (GST)?
After three years, by now, most Malaysians would have felt the burden of the GST on their rising cost of living.
Only a total reversal of the GST, which unfortunately Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak said is impossible to implement, is the only way BN can gain the people’s confidence.
Pakatan Harapan said the moment they win the general election, they would remove the GST. So, why is BN saying it cannot be abolished?
Is it because the country has reached such a financial state that despite the oil money, the government would not be able to meet financial obligations without the income from GST collection?
All the “positive” reports aside, one needs to only read Tricia Yeoh’s open letter to Najib to realise how much of Najib’s speech at Invest Malaysia last month can be swallowed.
The truth is most people have a very negative economic outlook, with most saying that the country appears to be going nowhere. Malaysians are beginning to see the doom ahead of them with the latest report that in 2016, the country’s debt has hit RM908.7 billion or 74 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP).
This is one of the highest since the country achieved independence. To say it is no problem is something hard for even ordinary Malaysians to believe. Imagine you are earning RM10,000, but you have to service your loan for the RM7,000 that you have borrowed.
You may be living a lifestyle of someone earning RM17,000 a month, but how many people even earn RM5,000 a month? This is called “over gearing”.
If people smell that something is not right, they will panic to think that the country’s total foreign debts may show that we are in real danger of bankruptcy.
One explanation after another has been given. For example, everyone knows that it is the weaker ringgit that is contributing to the higher cost of foreign debts, but what is the BN government doing about controlling external debts?
What we are hearing about are the mega projects being carried out using borrowed funds. The East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) for example is to be built using money from a soft loan provided by China’s Exim Bank at 3 percent over a period of 20 years.
Anyone borrowing from the bank for a housing loan for that period of time will realise that it is not that rosy after all. The moment someone defaults on a loan, there will be penalties. The bank may even force the property to be auctioned off.
Would the RM55 billion soft loan place Malaysia under the control of a Chinese bank, hence, indirectly the Chinese government? No banks would loan any amount of money if it does not have the assurance that it is able to get back the money.
Besides, we all know that Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM) is not making any profit despite running the North-South corridor. What makes us think that the ECRL would be able to pay back the loan?
UMNO-Malay Unity, not National Unity
It is not only the financial aspect that people are worried about. No thanks to its past record, and people like Jamal Mohd Yunos and his Red Shirts, people seem to have the impression that UMNO is given the right to use violence.
Peace-loving Malaysians are no longer easily intimidated. The silent majority may not do much, but the sentiments are definitely not with UMNO when more political violence unfolds, whether linked to the party, its members, or otherwise.
They may not be outspoken, but they are waiting for the right moment to strike with another tsunami. This is my observation especially after Mahathir and his men abandoned UMNO.
Jamal Ikan Bakar Yunos and his Red Shirts on a rampage?
The answer to my question, “How BN can gain back people’s confidence?” therefore requires more soul-searching on the part of BN leaders, including those from Sabah and Sarawak.
If flying of the Jalur Gemilang is any indication of the people’s sentiments, it is time for some serious discussions at the higher level.
WRITER: STEPHEN NG is an ordinary citizen with an avid interest in following political developments in the country since 2008.