MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku


Friday, October 30, 2015


Ahmad Hafidz Baharom
Hafidz Baharom, The Heat Online
With Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak currently being seen as a product of Mahathirism, I think it is time for Malaysians to think a bit harder before blaming the former prime minister as being the cause.
The truth is we were all enablers who allowed Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to continue. From the former Umno members who formed PKR all the way to the voters that continually voted BN for some 60 years, this is partially our fault.
After Ops Lalang, Malaysians were basically cowed into obeying the government. But more than that, there has never been a proper opposition worthy of taking over government.
Examples of such are aplenty since Parti Negara, Semangat 46 and even the newer established PKR.
Looking back at our political history, it is clear that there was no viable opposition until 1998. Even then, the so-called Barisan Alternatif failed to create a lasting coalition and lost once Mahathir passed the reins to Tun Abdullah Badawi.
Is it true that Mahathir rigged the system?
Yes, but who passed the law if not parliament through majority vote? Subsequently, who voted to ensure the majority was in the hands of those who voted to rig the system?
Sure, it is all fine and dandy to accuse Mahathir, but the truth of the matter is we are all subconsciously guilty of allowing the system to what it is now through apathy and nonchalance of politics in the past.
The major reason we are undergoing somewhat of a renaissance of political thought currently is due to the availability of information via the Internet. The major growth of opposition support is due to the establishment of alternative media, social networks and, at one time, blogs.
Due to the ability to access such information widely, Malaysians have grown more conscious of the political goings-on within the government and its administration. At the same time, a reason for such a sudden growth in the late 1990s was due to the Malaysian government not allowing the censorship of websites as part and parcel of achieving and developing a Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC).
And whose pet project was that?
Tun Mahathir Mohamad.
So, what does that tell us? Basically, Mahathir decided to open up cyberspace to allow the multitude of opinionated Malaysians to speak up regarding whatever they like, and the media sector reacted with similar zeal.
Banned and limited newspapers went online, while local media players chose the same in order to give coverage with a conflicting spin than those in the mainstream.
In 2008, this manifested itself when the opposition coalition managed to win five states – Selangor, Perak, Kedah, Penang and Kelantan – and forced the government to lose its two-thirds majority in parliament.
The main reason for this shift? Social media campaigning attracting the youth, alternative online media coverage and an administration that did mostly nothing against such influencers.
Unfortunately for us all, Perak switched sides due to a change in allegiances, Kedah was so badly mismanaged that its local had had enough and thus leaving the Opposition with two states which it maintained in the 2013 general election.
And Mahathir was not even doing much during the campaign period that year.
However, it is undeniable that the draconian laws he used still exists, as they do now in Singapore even after the passing of Lee Kuan Yew. Yet, it is more than that.
Najib and his administration have gone further through the censoring of the Net, something beyond Mahathir’s want. While Mahathir did bailouts for companies aplenty, he did so with one thing in mind: jobs.
Take note that Perwaja Steel meant thousands of jobs for rural folks, and Proton and MAS meant jobs for professionals.
Did his supporters milk it beyond its worth and at his expense? Of course they did.
Should he have stopped? Of course, but it would mean a loss of livelihoods for many Malaysians who had nowhere else to go. In fact, with the recent layoffs from MAS, have many of them been hired back?
And worse yet, even with these evident bailouts and scandals and accusations of cronyism, he still won the government hands down for 22 years. Why?
To answer that is to note that Malaysians lack the belief that the Opposition was credible at any point in time as it is now.
Wait, I’ll rephrase that. The Opposition was credible, until now. It does not take a genius to see that the newly minted Pakatan (what is it with them never surviving two general elections?) Harapan is losing its lustre.
The reason behind this is simple: Malaysians are demanding more.
The demands include a shadow Cabinet, a formal unified structure, transparency in state governance and clarity in their campaigns and processes.
One such example happened this week, when Selangor Mentri Besar Azmin Ali was asked to explain the approval of three highways to his PKR leadership.
That’s odd. And here I thought he owed his answers to the people.
Azmin is also under fire for still keeping former allies PAS in the state government, something that the Penang DAP state leadership has undone due to the schism between the two parties.
It is these serious missteps in just running a state that makes the Opposition continually lose credibility.
And frankly, you can’t blame Mahathir for this one.

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