It has been a frustrating 2021 for most Malaysians. Episode after episode involving disasters, political manoeuvres, race and religious extremism, poor decisions, exposes of corruption etc. have only led us to become more and more disenchanted.
Someone asked recently if most columnists and authors of opinion pieces in the Malaysian media have nothing positive to write about, as a good number of them appear to be only painting a grim picture.
My reply was simple. Some writers articulate their thoughts to try and reach out to the masses. Some do it for money while another group prefers to call a spade a spade, even at the risk of being sued or being called up by the authorities.
Those who choose to be honestly critical want to point out the terrible weaknesses that, if left unchecked, will slowly but surely destroy the institutions that should be protecting the nation.
Most writers not only go through social media before putting their thoughts into words but they also talk to their friends, politicians and analysts on the ground to get a grip on the happenings and what is hidden behind the scenes.
This is where I recently found the phrase “Gone lah Malaysia!” being commonly used in many personal chats and comments on social media. Of course, it was mostly related to the poor performance of the government and blatant corruption.
To be honest, it did not only come from frustrated Malaysians who have been deprived of opportunities but also from those who had gained from the social engineering policies that had enhanced their status and all. This, my friends, is quite telling.
The saga involving the head of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission versus the Securities Commission Malaysia opened a Pandora’s box of power play.
The SC hastily cleared MACC chief Azam Baki of any wrongdoing despite him telling the whole world that his share trading account was used by his brother.
Two key institutions that are supposed to instil confidence in the nation’s economy and investors are somehow floundering. Azam and his deputies may disagree but their reputation has taken such a beating that it will take some time to recover.
The defiant multiracial group that organised the “Tangkap Azam” demonstration on Saturday may be a bane to the authorities but many Malaysians secretly welcomed it, not knowing how else to send a strong message to the government.
Parliament, which is supposed to be the last bastion of democracy, appears to be an autocratic institution which allows the prime minister and ministers to get away with flimsy or non-answers to important questions.
Even Dewan Rakyat Speaker Azhar Harun behaves like a school discipline teacher admonishing his students, telling our YBs “I’ll throw you out of the House” with fingers pointed at them.
A far cry from the man that Malaysians once knew. But then that was when he was not in the government, often picking on the then Dewan Rakyat Speaker in his YouTube channel.
What angered many people was when Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob told the opposition to accept the SC’s decision. It was a naive statement, knowing how the people have been standing up against corruption of late.
Ismail sank to another low during the one-day special Parliament sitting to discuss one of the worst floods ever experienced by Malaysians. He chose to focus on the opposition-held Selangor, attacking the state government for not jumping into action once the floods hit. He even lamented that opposition elected representatives were not seen in the flood-hit areas.
Instead of talking about national plans to prevent the disastrous effects of floods, he was more interested in running down Selangor, probably to score political points with a possible general election looming. The fact is that he was wrong. Those who hit the ground included representatives from both sides of the divide, just like the absentees.
Ismail forgot for a moment that his home state of Pahang also experienced some devastating floods. Of course, we also had the Umno-Perikatan Nasional states of Johor, Terengganu, Kelantan, Melaka which were also badly hit by floods. Why, even the prime minister’s constituency of Bera was inundated with flood waters.
In retaliation, the opposition claimed ministers had been abroad and failed to return despite Ismail’s orders to do so. So the special sitting flopped miserably when MPs started playing the blame game.
The rakyat was disgusted at these antics but do the politicians care? No, they appear oblivious to the deep-seated anger, frustration and hopelessness among the people prevailing currently.
If the people in power and elected representatives cannot work together to help plan better preparedness for disasters, and are at each other’s throats instead, then the nation is in trouble. The “Gone lah Malaysia” reaction may be justified to an extent.
The Attorney-General’s Chambers, headed by Azhar’s elder brother Idrus, has been making some highly debatable decisions. There are serious allegations of selective prosecution. As usual, the AGC does not seem to provide convincing explanations to try and quell the anger of the people.
Cracks in many of our key institutions are obviously widening. The people have become numb because of the many shocking incidents like the corrupt going free, losers ending up winners, inept leaders being appointed to helm agencies and institutions. The list goes on.
With these and many other questionable actions, I feel we have every reason to worry when people say “Gone lah Malaysia”. Our only hope rests with the more than four million new voters whose names have just been added to the electoral list.
Many believe that these youths will determine whether the same government will remain after the next general election or a new one will emerge. They can collectively help debunk the “Gone lah Malaysia” feeling and steer the nation in the right direction to make it great again.