February 19, 2018.
Recollections & Reflections – A commentary
THE less political among Malaysians sometimes are left bemused on the shift in thinking by Malaysian politicians on the most fundamental of issues.
Where’s the ideology, you may ask?
The answer is “there doesn’t appear to be any”. And this is the sad part about Malaysian politics, which is also the main reason why abandoning one party for another is so common, a culture almost unheard of in other well established democracies. How many politicians in a leadership position in Britain have crossed from Labour to the Conservatives or vice-versa? Or a Democrat turning into a Republican in America?
It is this culture of switching sides that makes Malaysians talk all the time about the saying that “there are no common friends or enemies in politics”. It is only in Malaysia that this holds true.
Lim Guan Eng’s DAP used to be a vocal critic of projects initiated by the federal government that it perceived to be mega but as Penang Chief Minister, Guan Eng wants this undersea tunnel to link the island with the mainland. If it does get off the ground many years later, this will be the first for the country and crucially, something that is for now estimated to cost a whopping RM6.3 billion to include the cost of three paired roads. If that’s not mega, what is?
Already this tiny island with a population of about 750,000 is linked to the mainland by two bridges, both of which have not reached maximum utilisation and no one has given a compelling reason as to the need for another link.
Someone like former prime minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, who’s 92 and could be 93 when the next government is due to be formed, now supports the proposal that a PM’s tenure be limited to two terms but when he ruled the country obviously he didn’t think this should have been the case. If he did he would not have been in that chair for 22 years.
Guan Eng and his comrades in the opposition groaned about media bias when they were Members of Parliament or assemblymen but have gone to the other extreme when elevated to being CEOs of the states, banning certain journalists from press conferences or restricting the newspapers the state governments should subscribe to.
They talk about guaranteeing more freedom for Malaysians and yet kept the media out during the debate at their pact’s national convention.
In recent times Guan Eng ranted about the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s investigations into allegations linked to the road-tunnel project, going to the extent of insisting that the MACC was doing the bidding of the federal government and also asking if the agency was in fact a political tool.
Guan Eng too was displeased with the agency for taking him to court over the bungalow he bought on the island.
Let’s be rational about this and apply common sense.
If the MACC was on a political witch hunt to derail the opposition’s preparations heading into the next general elections, it might as well do the same in Selangor and Kelantan, two other states controlled by the opposition.
The fact is while an agency like MACC can concoct a story about someone being corrupt, it needs evidence to go to court and anyone who tracks cases in court can tell you that the agency must have lost more than it has won.
That the agency hasn’t closed the books on this investigation despite being at it since 2016, as pointed out by Guan Eng, doesn’t mean that it should stop right now. There is for example the matter of the Parti Cinta Malaysia lodging a report with what it said was new evidence. Countries reportedly investigating the 1MDB money trail have supposedly been investigating since a few years ago and yet until today no one who was or is with 1MDB or had direct business dealings has been implicated openly. Don’t forget the fact that the countries said to be investigating have a reputation for being efficient.
At one Pribumi Bersatu gathering some weeks ago its president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin took a dig at how the mainstream media had played up a story unfavourable to his party and the opposition. As the country’s and Umno’s former number two Muhyiddin told the floor about how the MSM newspapers and TV3 gave prominent coverage to the issue.
Granted but the kind of treatment Muhyiddin had seen fit to comment on was no different from the treatment the MSM had given to the other side when Muhyiddin was with the government. Someone should remind him that he didn’t think this kind of coverage was an issue then.
Despite the downside, many Malaysians have made up their minds that all they want is change, a change in the government at the federal level come what may, despite the other side not looking too flash with what it will be offering.
Such is the contempt that most simply don’t want to do some soul-searching.
But on further reflection there are some who acknowledge that Malaysians simply deserve what they get.
Or maybe the position adopted by the millenials in deciding that neither the current administration nor Pakatan Harapan is a viable option for them may jolt political leaders to themselves do some soul-searching. Only thereafter could we expect a political culture the country can be proud of.