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| | The Star - Sharing the Nation - Questions to ponder (26 July 2015)
Questions to ponder
As issue and more issues made the headlines, will there be an implosion of all the things that Malaysia had built over the years?
I AM beginning to feel as if this country and its rakyat are being crushed and pummelled by wrecking balls.
The wrecking ball of race and religion, of insatiable greed, of never-ending sense of entitlements, of unpunished crimes and abuses, of ideology over rational thinking, justice, and fair play.
These concerns are nothing new. What’s new is the breathtaking scale, the endlessness of it all, and the shamelessness with which the perpetrators display their unscrupulous, destructive and criminal behaviour, in words and deeds.
The seeds of this rot were sown a long time ago. Any dominant party in power breeds its own seeds of destruction.
For too long, too many of its leaders and party apparatchiks get away with all manner of transgressions. They tend to believe they are immune from any form of retribution.
I was in Geneva two weeks ago and UN officials and activists I met were asking what was happening to Malaysia.
How did things get this bad? We were once a model country that others looked up to as a prosperous, progressive, politically stable, multi-ethnic society. We are a high middle-income developing country, not a basket case.
Now we are looking more and more like another banana republic, with scandals galore making global headlines.
The deep concern many feel that these wrecking balls could lead to an implosion of everything that we have built over the decades is real. And what is scary is that there are people who are priming for trouble to break.
The Low Yat plaza riot will not be the last in their scheme of things.
Thank God, the IGP and his forces acted fast in nipping the problem in the bud and stating the facts clearly and unambiguously. It was a crime; not about one race trying to cheat another.
All those who exploited the situation by making hate speech to manufacture racial conflict must be charged for their role in inciting violence.
Lessons must be learnt fast if we want to stop those determined to destroy the country in order to remain in power and preserve what they believe are their lifetime entitlements – on nothing but the basis of birth.
As desperation over the inevitable closing chapter sets in, there will be more attempts to ignite fires of racial conflict.
The truth is the ruling elite is becoming more and more beleaguered – under the weight and scope of allegations of misappropriation of public funds, plummeting popularity and finding itself devoid of new blood and new ideas, and certainly bereft of courage and will to bring the transformation needed to win back public support.
Let’s manufacture more threats to add to the standard “Malays under threat”, “Islam under threat”. Now it’s “national security under threat” as more and more damning evidence of mind-blowing brazen sleaze and corruption is revealed.
Who is really threatening whose survival? And what has happened to the warnings given at the Umno general assembly last year that Umno must “change or be dead”? It looks like the choice Umno has made is very clear.
Unless a new breed of young far-sighted leaders come forward with the will and courage to change the system – political and economic – to become more inclusive, more just, more honest, more transparent, we are really seeing the end of a long era in Malaysian politics.
Time has run out for this old form of authoritarian politics and rule by a privileged elite.
In their book Why Nations Fail, Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson argue with evidence across history and geography that authoritarian “extractive” political and economic institutions designed by elites in order to perpetuate their power at the expense of the majority of the people are bound to run out of steam.
The pride we have in our beloved country is that was NOT our history. That was not how Malaysia began. But today this is where we are heading.
Just look at the alleged Mara scandal. An agency set up to redress a historical economic injustice against the Malays ends up led by people cheating the very group they are supposed to help, pocketing millions in barefaced shenanigans.
A policy vehicle pumped with hundreds of millions of taxpayers money to eradicate poverty on the basis of race gets abused by the privileged elite of that race.
This is yet another case of pagar makan padi. Those entrusted to protect you, instead betray you. And there are many more such scandals, just waiting to be surfaced.
Let’s ask some hard questions here.
Why after decades of rigorous development planning, 40% of Malaysian households earn only about RM1,847 a month?
Why after more than four decades of the NEP, 75.5% of those at the bottom are bumiputras?
Why in spite of the billions poured into education and boarding schools, 64.3% of the bumiputra workforce have only SPM qualifications?
Why some 90% of the unemployable university graduates are bumiputras?
Why of the RM54bil worth of shares pumped to bumiputra individuals and institutions between 1984 and 2005, only RM2bil remained in bumiputra hands today?
And why oh why should the bumiputras continue to raise a begging bowl and ask for more of the same kind of handouts from the same ruling elite?
The bottom 40% get crumbs.
Let’s focus our attention on these priorities.