MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku


Friday, February 28, 2020

Our rights as Malaysians have been snatched away by the politicians

I am very angry with what our elected politicians have done this past week or so. They have more or less eliminated all faith that I ever had in the politics and governance of Malaysia. I feel that what has happened just portrays the selfishness and immaturity of our country’s politics, and it makes me feel ashamed.
The Pakatan Harapan coalition was voted into government by a majority of Malaysians who, after decades, had felt that it was finally time for a change in the country. This majority was tired of the corruption and unnecessary racial and religious tension that existed and May 9, 2018, was the tipping point of when we had enough.
We had a whole lot of hope for the new government. It was a coalition that we came to identify with for fighting hard for the rights of all Malaysians and who really wanted to fight corruption. They made promises that, personally, were very aligned with what I was hoping for the country. Hence, I was very happy on May 10, 2018.
Fast forward almost two years later, and now the euphoria of the elections ended, and we have realised that the Harapan government isn’t perfect. Many of the promises they made in their manifesto were not being fulfilled. Many of their leaders were also suddenly pulled into playing with the race and religion card that we have all been so sick of.

Many Malaysians, including me, became very critical of them. We constantly tried to remind them of their promises and the mandate that the Malaysian people have given them. Of course, we were very angry, but all that anger was being channelled towards them so that they would take heed and be better. If they didn’t improve, then we could well vote them out the next time.
But the opportunity for us to actually follow the democratic system and express things through our vote was snatched away from us because a bunch of politicians who were too impatient, selfish and power-crazy decided that the country and its people are not important. I really want to know where in their decision making did the country actually factor in?
When Azmin Ali, Zuraida Kamaruddin, Saifuddin Abdullah and gang decided to leave PKR and the Harapan coalition to attempt to join forces with the opposition, I truly saw it as them betraying all the Malaysians who voted for them. This is the same for Bersatu as well when they made the decision to leave the coalition.
It was clear who Malaysians voted for in 2018, and that was a coalition that consisted of these 11 PKR MPs and Bersatu. Who gave them the right to decide to break up the coalition that had already been endorsed by the country? They can deny being traitors as much as they want, but it is so clear that they just up and left with no regards for the voters.
See, I knew it was going to be a problem when a race-based political party entered the picture. Now, they are going to use the majority race element to join forces with Pas and Umno to then take over the government. Is that what the majority of voters in 2018 had wanted when they voted for the actual Harapan coalition? I can say that I did not want that.
But hey, it was the best we had at that time, right? What other alternative was there to vote out Barisan Nasional? We were comforted with the fact that the coalition was united and had a manifesto and an agreed campaign promise. Yes, it was naive, and I guess we are facing the consequences now.
I see Dr Mahathir Mohamaed’s resignation as prime minister and Bersatu chair being in the best interest of the country. He knew that when he resigned, it would automatically mean that the cabinet would also dissolve and cease to exist. In that sense, the PKR members and Bersatu who had abandoned the coalition and had positions in the cabinet would also automatically be purged.
It was clear, even before he addressed the nation, that he wanted to form a unity government. I agree that this was in the best interest of the country in the current political situation because the country needed to be administered and there was no time for politicking. Saving the coalition was no longer an option. Harapan had crumbled. It was time to save the country.
It kind of worked for a very short while. Suddenly, everyone voiced their support for Mahathir as the prime minister. The traitors said they would back him, the opposition said they would back him, and of course, the Harapan coalition (or whatever was left of it) said they would all back him, as they all went to the palace to meet the Agong.
But then the ugliest of politics emerged. The opposition decided they couldn’t back Mahathir anymore because that would mean having to work with DAP. Bersatu decided to back their president Muhyiddin Yassin. Whatever was left of Harapan decided to back Anwar Ibrahim, suddenly accusing Mahathir of no longer wanting to pursue the coalition’s agenda.
Unfortunately, it looks like Malaysian politics is still too immature for a unity government. The politicians are too obsessed thinking about the risk of disagreements, fighting and stalemate decision making to even consider the fact that they could all just suck it up and govern the country together. They just wanted to jostle for power.
Now, the country is in limbo, and the only thing we can do is wait to see what the Agong and the palace decide to do. This is a situation that I feel very uncomfortable with because the power is no longer in the hands of the Malaysian people. Whatever power we had as the rakyat has now been snatched away from us because of political dirtiness.
I guess the best option in this situation would be to call for snap elections. But I would also feel uncomfortable with that because, in the current situation, there is a high risk that parties from the former government could garner enough voter support to actually win. After working so hard to vote them out in 2018, I don’t think I would be ready for them to get back into government so soon.
There are a lot of what-ifs that we can see now. What if Harapan had been a better government? What if they had managed to fulfil all their manifesto promises? What if Mahathir had made the transition of power to Anwar Ibrahim clearer? Well, there is no point in thinking of all that now. The fact of the matter is that we all have failed, no matter which side of the divide we lie in.
Right now, all I can do is sit dejectedly as I wait for other people to determine the fate of my country. Growing up in the 1980s and 1990s in Malaysia, the year 2020 had always been an aspirational year. Now, it is a year that will symbolise the anger, sadness and disappointment that I feel for how Malaysian politics and government has turned out to become.

ZAN AZLEE is a writer, documentary film-maker, journalist and academic. He had waited so long for a change in the system and he is not willing to settle for a half-past-six change. Visit fatbidin.com to view his work. - Mkini

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