Friday, May 8, 2015

Do we want to jump out of the frying pan into the fire?

06 May 2015 10:00 AM

OUTSPOKEN: The problem with Malaysian politics is not just the politicians, the problem is also the rakyat. We have been talking about corruption for over 30 years, the Altantuya murder since 2008 and questions about the 1MDB were first raised in 2010. We might as well have talked to a brick wall. Successive Umno Baru governments dismissed our concerns or merely paid lip service to issues of public interest.
The government’s denial simply incensed the rakyat further and forced more Malaysians to question the role of the government. Government silence forced more moderate voices to open up, to join protests, and encouraged more Malaysians to think about their future and that of their children.
Recently, former PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad picked up on our anxieties and has been hailed as a hero. We gave him the microphone, and hey presto, he has become the unofficial spokesman for the rakyat.
When will the rakyat learn? Who is using whom? Are the individuals and other groups who claim that they need Mahathir to help rid Malaysia of Najib Razak, aware that Mahathir is also using them? Don’t they realise that they are going to replace a minor devil with the Devil himself? Mahathir is a master tactician, who has had over 60 years to plan his strategy.
Were the people who accepted Mahathir’s overtures, acting prematurely? A new generation of Malaysians has emerged after the successes of the Opposition in the last two general elections. They are not meek, they are prepared to speak out and they will not be stopped from expressing their views. At the end of last year, a group of establishment figures, comprising former senior civil servants and diplomats, added their voice to the chorus of moderate Muslims.
So, did the rakyat have a momentary lapse of judgement and hand the baton to Mahathir, without thinking of the consequences? The rakyat were doing so well, but now, Mahathir is seen as the hero, the man with a plan, the man who will save Malaysia.
Once Najib is ousted, does anyone think Mahathir is going to sit still? He has a legacy to fulfil. Najib’s obstinacy has created a major setback for him.

When Najib’s reign of fear and police brutality is over, Mahathir, who incidentally has not denied he still supports Umno Baru, will emerge as the conquering hero. What will he do? He will urge Malaysians to vote Umno Baru. The cycle of corruption, money politics, divide and rule, will continue, albeit under a different group of “chosen” leaders – his!
We complain that our leaders have no principles, but what about ourselves? Some of us act only if we can benefit from it. Where are our principles? This lack of integrity is the reason why Umno Baru has been able to “buy” pockets of the rakyat, time and time again. It is like Mahathir said “Melayu mudah lupa”. Actually, he is wrong, it should be “Malaysians mudah lupa” (Malaysians easily forget).
Mahathir once said that the rakyat is immature and unable to handle debates, when asked to comment on Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim’s proposed debate with Najib. In 2012, at the Perdana Leadership Foundation Mahathir said, “The Malaysian public is not yet that mature. This is not America. And even in America, the debates all expose how stupid the candidates are, that’s all.”
That is precisely what Malaysians need – to see how stupid and unprepared their candidates are. If we have to make informed choices, this is a good way to start, with a public exposé of the strengths and weaknesses of our candidates.
Najib tried to fool us into thinking he had answered all of Mahathir’s queries with his pre-recorded “question and answer” session on television. Najib does not dare do a live session with un-vetted questions, from the audience.
Have the rakyat forgotten who got us (Malaysia) into this mess – with a judiciary which has been compromised (the constitutional crisis of 1987 is well documented), where the police are responsible for beating suspects (there are police reports about these), where money politics is de rigueur (Mahathir has admitted Umno Baru is corrupt), and “who you know is more important than what you know”?
Who curbed press freedom, three decades ago? Who locked up his critics using the ISA? Who started grandiose public schemes and lost billions of taxpayers’ money? Who was behind Project IC? Who created crony-economics? Who declared Malaysia an Islamic state?
Najib is so inept that he cannot defend himself against Mahathir. He imagined that the televised session was sufficient to silence Mahathir, and meeting Umno Baru warlords would ensure their loyalty.
If Najib had any sense, he would go on the attack and ask Mahathir, the longest serving Malaysian prime minister of 22 years, to answer the laundry-list of crimes against the nation.
Mariam Mokhtar is “a Malaysian who dares to speak the truth.
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