Saturday, June 02, 2018

Wherefore art thou politics in this heedless time

Opposition message embraced by UMNO members led to BN's fall

After 15 years of active involvement and many more decades in various minor and insignificant roles from keen observer to complimentary support, it is time to take stock of our involvement in politics. If there is a purpose to stay on, the new role need to be redefine.

Currently it is rather confusing and national politics look rather heedless or the Arab word best described the condition as Ghaflah (pronounced closer to Ghoflah). From Islamic context, it is negligence and heedlessness in forgetting Allah, and our divine purpose. The political context is closer in meaning to aimlessness.

Politics relate to governance, debate between political parties, and activities relating to secure power through political positions. The acquisition of power comes with it a sense of responsibility and purpose for a greater good for the nation, and its people.

As we see it, politics in Malaysia is moving towards a state of aimlessness and it looks to be moving towards the state of heedlessness (Ghaflah) at its extreme. So it is challenging to justify continuous active involvement and purposeful role.

In the first place, it was unthinkable to got involved given the in-fighting, suspicion and envy by certain influential character among Najib people. Maybe time to take few steps back to observe from afar.

Independence to Nation Building 

In one of our Hilton Corner tea talk among group of school buddies in the early part of our career, a friend held the view that UMNO’s role should evolve from seeking independence to nation building and eventually, to a different purpose.

The nation building process saw the establishment of institutions, rural development and economically empowering the people. Then came the vision to prepare towards a developed nation status.

During the era of the last alphabet in the RAHMAN series of UMNO Prime Ministers, we interpreted it as an attempt to correct past wrongs that deviated from the path put by Tun Abdul Razak and ensure rakyat’s basic needs are in place before moving into the truly dynamic, resilient and sustainable developed nation.

Alas, that picture was not visible to the rakyat and the message they got was the few alleged wrongdoings (far less than the wrongdoings and lootings by a past PM) and rising prices blamed on GST (but refusal to accept in was the culmination of past neglects and critical economic condition in 2008).

The nation building agenda was already a tired message after more than 10 five-year Malaysia Plans. Voters had taken it for granted. The willingness to embrace freedom of speech, free press and removal of draconian laws inhibiting human rights by the last UMNO Prime Minister was a double edged sword that slashed his way.

Voters swayed to decades old agenda of oppositions like DAP and PKR for a more liberal society. It also came with rising affluence in the urban areas.

While, the real killer for Najib that led to his white areas fall in disbelief like Domino was similarly grassroot UMNO members applying the liberal atmosphere outside the party to vent out their deep hidden protest against him. They felt he was insulated from the grassroot problems of the people.

Unexpectedly, Johor, Negeri Sembilan and Melaka fell. Even a certain DAP leader privately express surprise. Najib may have been told BN could still get 131 seats but the DAP thought BN could secure 132.

Steering the country  

Voters demands by the words put into their mouth by then opposition politicians and their more efficient ability to identify public grouses is unrealistic.

In the less than a month as government, the new government practically acknowledged they could not honour their 100-day promise, let alone the longer list in their manifestos (not only PH’s). The one trillion debt is concocted to create a blame to BN government as excuse to not honour their manifesto.

Media – mainstream, foreign and online – is noticeable repeating the wrongful figure (read here and here for explanation) to be brain-wired into public consciousness.

The subsequent analysis appearing in the media is supporting the propaganda by developing negative stories based clearly on self-inflicted economic contraction through policies deemed to cause deflation and recession. 

As a BN supporter, we see it as campaign and governing by lies and deception. The true honest pictures one get to see and hear from the many political and social divides will soon be missing.

Given the scenario, what will happen to the rakyat and country? Will there exist voices to raise these concerns anymore?

Making politics relevant

The role of politics remained in need. There is still a need to provide check and balance in the system.

There must be brave soul willing to slug it out to sound off the new government that they have detoured from their own ideals and their policies burdening the people more than the alleged burdensome policies of past administration. 

Will these brave souls be willing to face harassment – political, psychological and persecution from instruments of government? If a former PM is handled in such manner swiftly within days of his lost, what would other lowly citizens?

The manner law enforcement and judiciary was abused to instantly cover-up past wrongdoings of the now government is appalling. The plan to remove the now on-leave Attorney General will see the returning PM ignore every law, contracts and protocols in seeing his revenge is met.

The worrying bit is the new government with 123 seats is a slim majority or new era political majority and is not stable. Long period of political stability translated into continuity in policies and long term plans are executable. This point is currently demonstrated by the long list of cancellation of projects beneficial for the people as embarked by previous administration.

If the war of words between Anwar and Mahathir’s boys (last salvo came from Syed Akbar) realised into a political war, the concern becomes real.

Anwar’s PKR has 49 seats, while DAP has 42 seats, PPBM 12 seats, and PAN  10. BN has 79 seats with UMNO 55.  And, PAS has 18, Warisan 8, Independent 3 and STAR 1. Any possible permutation could topple the present government, but is that beneficial for the country?

Suppose the impossible happen and PKR gets into a quarrel with PPBM leading to break-up. They then form a new coalition government with UMNO or BN. Good that UMNO is back in government but where is common ideological factor for it to happen?

It is heedless politics to be in bed with Anwar.  If DAP form a new coalition with UMNO, it is equally confusing and more an act for the quest for power? Power for power sake without a purpose and beneficial agenda is heedless!

If only we could put aside the excess politicking and unite for the sake of Malaysia.

Where to thy UMNO?

Although the politics is relevant, the question of platform for the struggle (perjuangan) is equally important and its nothing wrong to take a ruling turned opposition party as platform. DAP have been so since independent.

UMNO is stunted by the defeat. They should be given time to understand, develop and play the role as opposition as much as the new government need time to put their act in order.

Their silence is deafening but their priority is to put their party in order. The fact that their members were willing to cast their votes for DAP to get Najib removed was a signal the party structure is fractured.

The party election is coming soon.  Ignoring it will get themselves deregistered. A party that need to rejuvenate itself, maintain its relevance and find a purpose that meet expectation of voters’ or the segment of voters served by UMNO.

There is no other way than the need for new faces of leaders from branch, to division, and till top leadership. Unfortunately, the quarrelling incumbent that led to the colossal lost of BN’s candidate in our hometown still insist to remain head of local division.

UMNO cannot continue to leave the political discourse to only party supporters at a time government supporters are coming out of the woodwork in cyberspace. To expect supporters to wait for UMNO to finish its party election and come out of mourning, it is sheer negligence by new party leaders.

It need to take charge, revive public confidence through new untainted leaders, and genuine in its role as a party to champion the cause of the Malays and for all Malaysians. After two performance  General Elections culminating in the recent loss, UMNO is certainly Ghoflah and failed to change to the expectations of voters.

Failure to put its act in order may see UMNO lost its worth as a platform to champion causes.

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