Round Up: Hari Kemerdekaan and Hari Raya 2011


As Malaysia celebrates Hari Raya Aidil Fitri (30-31 Aug) and National Day (31 Aug) this year, the country is shrouded with numerous issues that have a significant impact on all Malaysians unlike previous years.

Political
There is a lot of rumbling inside Umno and speculation is rife about PM Najib if he is going to face an ouster by DPM Muhyiddin in the December Umno General Assembly.

For some unknown reason(s), news like the RM24m diamond ring case, the Scorpene saga, the Rosmah MIL supposed expose of alleged links to the Russian Mafia by Kompas, and now the successful subpoena of Najib and Rosmah to the Anwar trial have added salt to the PM’s wounds and distracts him from his PM duties. It appears that the leaks and such made it out because of Umno internal hidden hands staging Najib’s exit. And now with his popularity rating falling 6 points since May to 59%, being the lowest any PM has ever obtained, may also be presented to dethrone Najib.

All of a sudden, DPM Muhyiddin has risen to appear as the “good guy” although the general feeling of Malaysians about the DPM is highly suspicious of his ultra Malay stand and his possible leanings to sideline others to reach his goals. His “I’m Malay first and Malaysian second” going against the 1Malaysia sentiments already showed his true colors. However, it may appear inevitable that should Najib be ousted, it will be Muhyiddin and not Razaleigh who will take over.

Amidst this backdrop, the GE13 will not happen until after the Umno General Assembly in December. Unless Najib reads the writing on the wall and calls for GE13 as a preemptive strike. We shall soon see what happens after this week.

Bersih, a civil movement, has sparked the imagination and political consciousness of all Malaysians to spur greater participation into our electoral reform matters. Although Bersih is still considered an illegal entity (technically it is not an entity but grouping of legal NGOs) and has the recognition of the Agung, the young and old alike have woken up to the realities of a Government who can act oppressively against electoral reforms it seems. The handling of Bersih has seen Najib’s popularity plummeting and the EC Deputy Chairman and the EC Chairman openly with different of opinions about what and how electoral reforms as demanded by Bersih should be handled.

It appears that there are those who want to do what is right for the country and those who want to do what is right for those in power.

Our civil service appears to have been brainwashed that they work for the BN Government instead of for the people of Malaysia. 53 years is long enough. Let this 54th year be a start of civil changes of allegience to the people, by the people, and for the people.

Religious
The murtad (apostasy) issue that arose from the 30+ man swoop by JAIS and the police onto a DUMC premises of an NGO dinner has since been taken wildly out of context. Accussations grew from this incident to arousing discord sentiments by TV3 and Berita Harian spiraled out of control without the authorities stepping in and ensuring factual reporting. In fact, PAS has come out stating that this incident smells of Umno involvement which PAS claims to have proof that was a political twist to this religious ploy by Umno to possibly destabilise PAS and PKR in Selangor.

Asri stepped out to clear the air that it was the church that has unconditionally helped those Malays that were present at the dinner and that they couldn’t get any such help from the authorities.

However, the damage has been done in an apparent government inaction of not stepping in to nip this in the bud early on and allowed the fanning of religious intollerance by various groups. Smells of a political twist to this saga.

Religious harmony is definitely not a priority of the present Government as seen by their inaction to stem out lies and there is no definitely visible interest to actively promote greater understanding for religious tolerance. While telling the world that Malaysia is a world class example of racial and religious tolerance, we are a first class actor to the world where in reality, the Government can use race and religion as a political weapon.

Social
Then there is the rife migration of Malaysians of well over a million to other countries for a better job or a better life in reacting to frustrations over the present government. This brain drain is severely hurting Malaysia’s capability to compete with our neighboring countries. The reality is that Malaysians of all races are running away.

The blatant ignoring of the poverty situation in Sabah and Sarawak as well as the import of aliens to be citizens into those two states (more so in Sabah with Project M) have broken the resolve of the natives there and allowed Umno to stamp their authority in Sabah. In their attempt to muscle into Sarawak, that was stopped by Taib making an exceptional turnaround at the Sarawak polls and swift swearing-in that had Umno stumped.

The standard of living of Malaysians has dropped significantly due to a stagnation of salaries and a spiralling increase in consumer goods – including food and basic needs. This happened over the last 3+ years very quickly overtaking Malaysians by surprise.

We have a set of serious social problems that the Government has turned a blind eye to or is seen doing very little about. Again, the mishandling of Bersih is clear that civil society has to shutup in the name of “peace”.

Economics
The cost of living has risen steadily regardless of Najib’s rhetorics that it was inevitable due to global economic climates affecting Malaysia. Blaming the country’s problem on the world is no way our PM should act. There are things that the PM can do to soften the impact, to be seen to have done everything in his power for the people. But he hasn’t.

This all started getting out of control in 2008 after GE12 by the then PM Badawi to cause an increase at the pump prices which in turn started consumer inflation. Prices for food and services never looked back since they started to rise then.

PM Najib took over the cue to reduce further petrol subsidy and removing diesel and sugar subsidies. This pushed consumer goods and services even higher. Najib continued to paint a rosy picture that inflation remains under control at around 3.5% but in reality, Malaysians have been paying a lot more for the food they eat, the transport they take and no more savings from a stagnated income. The household disposable income started to push Upper Middle towards Middle and Lower Income groups. This is seriously alarming and the poverty line is kept low to show good statistics.

Najib was only trying to hide the reality that Malaysians are really suffering amidst budget extension requests that sounds very suspicious especially in defense spendings. The maintenance of our 2 submarines, the naval vessels and helicopter purchases at a much higher price than other countries all sounds seriously bad when the people is struggling to pay our daily bread while exhorbitant amounts of money is going into undisclosed defense spending details (and “commission agents”?) all in the name of national security.

Who are we trying to defend Malaysia from? Indonesians? Singaporeans? Thais? Or pirates? Or UFO? What we have is neither advance or adequate for any real defense of foreign threat. But the expenditure is outrageous. Why can’t we use this to help cushion the inflationary impacts on Malaysians? If Malaysians had a referendum on this, we will choose the obvious. Alas, our Government is oblivious to our plight.

Economics is not PR. It must be handled by a set of fiscal, social, legal, and macro economic solutions. There is no one silver bullet.

Which means a cutting away of subsidies must be counter-measured with removing unnecessary spendings and eradicating corruption and other factors. It seems our Government is taking a very simplistic stand of PR rhetorics to stem economic issues. They seem to think that making Malaysians tighten our belts will solve the country’s problems without plugging the leaks. If so, we are so doomed.

Where is Malaysia Heading?
The man on the street only knows that his life has gotten worse. Less disposable income caused by higher prices cannot be disregarded by rhetorics or brushed aside as nothing serious is happening.

We see the country’s Government living in denial of the people’s plight and all actions appear to cover up over expenditure, carelessness, corruption and a misuse of power to stay in power. The latest being the MRT project trying to “buy over” parts of China Town.

In these days of celebration, there appears little to celebrate about. The increasing sowing of disharmony amongst Malaysians while spewing the 1Malaysia slogan like a bad word is making life worse and worse. Listening to Najib’s Hari Raya and Merdeka addresses seem to give credence that he is still using PR rhetorics to make the people feel good and make the problems go away. Its like telling a person who is being burnt that all is OK and the pain is not so bad. Najib must realise his PR antics no longer works. The reality is affecting all Malaysians now.

We need to put Malaysia first and rise above our cultural differences. If we all fail to do this, our future will be very bleak indeed.

It is not about 1Malaysia. It is not a racial nor a religious issue.

It is a nationalistic matter. It affects all Malaysians. It affects the future of Malaysia and our children’s future. It is because Malaysia is now competing in a global marketplace and we cannot ignore this reality.

So when policies and plans are nationalistic in nature, it must impact all Malaysians positively. We must view each other as partners for a greater Malaysia.

Let us celebrate Hari Raya together with our Muslim friends and National Day with all Malaysians and put Malaysia first and above all issues. We are in this together. For united we shall stand, divided we shall fall, as a country. No race or religion will lose if Malaysia progresses towards a developed nation status. Society advances together.

Then our 2011 celebrations now will be more meaningful going into the future. GE13 will also be more interesting indeed.

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