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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Emergency rule, the most foolish and revealing step by the BN so far

Emergency rule, the most foolish and revealing step by the BN so far

Malaysia's BN government is now talking about Emergency rule. And all because of a citizens' march for free and fair elections. To outsiders and most Malaysians, it is the silliest idea to come from Prime Minister Najib Razak. And while the older generation still feel a stab of alarm at the word 'Emergency', the reaction of the younger especially the Gen Y Malaysians is that, this only proves the BN's shelf life is up. Most can't even be bothered to dignify the threat with a response.

Be that as it may, dire consequences always befall empires or nations wherein the leader acts irrationally. The Roman Emperor Nero was considered a mad man and he was instrumental in causing the downfall of the Roman Empire. Another mad leader who brought destruction to his nation was Adolf Hitler who precipitated the fall of Nazi Germany.

On the other hand, Britain's Sir Winston Churchill and America's Abraham Lincoln are known as great statesmen for being able to make wise decisions when their nations were in crisis. Lincoln was President during the American Civil War between the North and the South, while Churchill was the British Prime Minister during World War II.

Closer to home, Malaysia is not even in a state of crisis and the Najib Administration is already in a state of panic due to Bersih, a coalition of 62 of the country's top NGOs.

Two options

Bersih has fixed July 9th as a day for Malaysians to participate in a rally called 'Walk For Democracy'. This march is to deliver a memorandum of 8 election reforms to the King, demanding that the BN government acts with with responsibility and implements the recommendations before the next general election.

And strangely though, despite the noble nature of the requests, the government has seen fit to clampdown on the event, even to the extent of issuing such extreme threats against the organisers and participants.

The tug-of-war has gone on for nearly a month now and the government must think and act rationally as it is faced with only two options:

a. A clampdown and mass arrests which will further anger the citizens and they will certainly want BN out of Putrajaya. This may not result in economic sanctions imposed by the world community so soon, but it will surely damage the nation's economy as it will confirm to the long-term investors that the time to return to Malaysia is not ripe yet. As it is, Malaysia's Foreign Direct Investments are nothing to shout about.

b. By letting the Walk go on peacefully and acceding to the citizens' request for electoral reforms, the BN government may still win the general election due to the goodwill factor.

The choice is actually obvious. There should be no clampdown or threats to those who support Bersih. The government must heed the call to reason. Sanity must prevail. The government must try to dissipate the image that it is power-crazy.

The real pulse of the nation

Prime Minister Najib Razak has mentioned before that it is important to read the pulse of the people. And right now, many of the citizens are unhappy with the government. Just talk to the taxi drivers, the hawkers, the ordinary man-in-street and then you can really feel the pulse of the nation. They tell it like it is. Not some government-crony, UMNO party members or even Opposition party members for that matter. The unbiased and unvarnished viewpoint can be elicited from the man-in-the-street.

The government's refusal to implement electoral reforms only reinforces the people's belief that there must be lots of hanky-panky going on in the voter rolls and that the Election Commission is a tool of the government. To be frank, this is not something the people do not know. Ask anyone and they will reply, they don't need Pakatan or Bersih to tell them of BN's electoral cheating. But they wished Pakatan and Bersih could do something about it or everyone will be stuck with UMNO and BN for another 5 years!

Siege mentaility

Najib must take a deep breath, calm down and get rid of the siege mentality that seems to have enveloped him. Even the religious leaders are speaking out against this high-handedness.This is really a very telling sign and he would be foolish to ignore it.

The PM must discern the situation in a wise manner. He must know that it is without a doubt that a serious clampdown will only bring further condemnation for BN. He must move to calm down the people by allowing theWalk For Democracy to go on unhindered. There are many people who are angry with the government now not because of the absence of electoral reforms, but because they are finding it tough to make ends meet due to the increasing cost of living.

The government must let the Walk For Democracy go on peacefully and not let public anger rise further. Many of the citizens who are not interested in politics are nonetheless angry with the government due to the mismanagement of the nation's economy. The money in the average Joe's pocket is getting lesser by the day as his take-home-pay is not commensurate with the rising cost of living.

If the government were to clampdown on the Bersih rally with Emergency rule, it just goes to show that the government is bullying the people and this will heighten their anger which till now has not reached boiling point - yet. The government must not fail to read the signs of the times.

Mistake after mistake, not learning even after the PAS muktamar

A good example is the use of UMNO-owned Utusan newspaper and ultra Malay rights group Perkasa to chase the Malays from an increasingly progressive PAS back to the racist-tinged UMNO. It failed miserably, with PAS - the second largest Malay party in the country - unanimously opting to pursue a greater multiracial path. Same now as Najib is being advised that scare tactics will work. That the fear of Emergency will do the trick.

But will it really work or will it just go underground only to spring up like the PAS muktamar or annual congress that shocked UMNO and created a huge cheer across the nation, when the Islamist PAS announced it would not succumb to racial enticements.

A serious clampdown or any Emergency rule resulting in mass arrests is definitely not a 'value-move'. In crisis management, a 'value-move' is termed as whether the move planned for execution is worthwhile or whether it will result in an unwanted backlash.

It is still not too late for the government to soften their stance towards those who organize and support the Bersih rally. The time has come to make a wise decision. Najib must rise to the occasion if he wants to be remembered in history as a great statesman.

A wrong decision will herald doom for himself, his party and coaliton.

- Malaysia Chronicle

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