Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Can Umno's 'over-dominance' be broken?

Can Umno's 'over-dominance' be broken? Is the Pakatan up to the game?Many governments in the world have established some sort of democracy and Malaysia has her own peculiar version which cannot be branded with any particular name.

It is not even a Malaysian version of democracy per se but purely and totally - it is UMNO’s own version of democracy. And sad to say, Prime Minister Najib Razak's party knows little about the subject, hence the great controversies and boorish clownishness.

What UMNO has done to “democracy” is not to practice it but to institutionalize the facades of democracy, including regular multiparty elections to give the appearance of being a democratic country. These multiparty elections have never been free or fair, resulting in the formation of an authoritarian government.

Many people - within and outside Malaysia - may take these democratic facades for real. Many others, however, do not. More than anyone, the Opposition parties and candidates here who have suffered the worst consequences of the cheating know very well that the present government is only playing a game and not practicing legitimate democracy or democratic elections.

A new era of adversity where courage must be the first quality

It is time to call a spade a spade. It is time for those in the Opposition who say 'but what can we do' to stand aside and make way for people with stronger gumption. For example, you may have been brave in the past and went to jail for so and so, but are you brave anymore - NOW? Or has your gut grown thick and fat like those in the UMNO-BN?

Such a question may seem rude, but it is a very legitimate one for Malaysian voters to ask. As we often slam the Umno-BN, perhaps it is now timely to cast the spotlight on the Pakatan and what does it have to offer Malaysians in the face of a rabid Umno-BN, even more arrogant and dangerous now that it has 'won' another 5 years in power.

Boils must be pricked and pus must be expelled otherwise gains made in the past few years will be lost and we become like the past generations - silent because we were afraid when we came face to face with 'danger'!

Old dogs and new tricks

Lim Kit Siang, Karpal Singh and Hadi Awang are towering figures in the Opposition and have been so for decades. With all due respect, when it comes to broken electoral promises, surely these three would have to account for the most number since they have never been able to wrest the federal government and thereby implement their dreams and visions for the people. Looking at the situation objectively, theirs is actually a pretty horrendous track record. 30, 40 or perhaps even 50 years of not being able to realize their goal. Why should Malaysians, if they seriously want change, continue to choose these leaders then? These guys could not do it after so many decades, and the chances are, unless they revamp their mindset, Malaysia will continue to be governed by the Umno-BN.

Do Malaysians really want 'Ubah'? If so, they had better stop wearing rose-tinted glasses and confront the fact that some of their revered leaders have in actual fact never managed to perform at all. The question begs - did Umno-BN rule Malaysia since 1957 because they were strong or because the Opposition until 2008 was weak? Malaysians must pick winners, if change is truly what they want. Of course, this is not easy and we could jump from the frying pan into the fire. But we still move - whether forward or backward, there is still motion. Life and strength still flow in our veins and limbs, and with a bit more courage, we can get to our goal. The worse option is to stay comatose, trapped in loss, stuck in defeat.

Pakatan has to continue playing the game but they have to change their game plan. Otherwise, it is tantamount to allowing themselves to be cheated over and over again. And that is a mark of insanity.

It is also a mark of cowardice and bad faith with voters who supported Pakatan because they wanted a change in government. What would help and are really needed most are fresh ideas to be get the county moving forward and not round and round in circles.

The drastic responses from Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim and the Pakatan Rakyat in the immediate aftermath of the recently-concluded 13th general election marks the start of an era to break the impasse and shatter once and for all Umno's dominance. This is a tack that Pakatan leaders must hammer through and ferociously!

Right direction but not yet there

For the first time in Malaysia's history, the Opposition had dared to say no. Anwar and Pakatan voiced their rejection of the election results. They mobilized their followers to protest the fraudulent electoral process and its outcomes via the Black 505 rallies. But have Anwar and Pakatan succeeded?

So far, the desired outcome of their actions has not materialized but they must not give up. Umno-BN has still formed the government. On the first day of new Parliament session, Umno-BN continued to cheat with the election of the Speaker. Prime Minister Najib Razak made a laughing stock of himself by forcing his own reps to sign a so-called secret ballot so that all would toe the line and vote a controversial toady back into office.

It was also ironic that as the re-elected Speaker was pompously calling for 'change' in his acceptance speech, 32 youth activists were roughed up and arrested by the police just outside Parliament. In other words, nothing has changed. Democracy has not deepened or widened. It may have shrunk even further following GE13.

Meanwhile, the Black 505 rallies seem to have lost steam despite clear evidence of public support. No doubt, the crowds are no longer so large but obviously, if you have attended one or two such 'ceramahs', you won't want to go again unless there are new issues or speeches to hear. So the right medicine is not to dump the rallies but to ask, what new strategies can we apply to keep the public interest intact? Actually, if the crowd size tapers down to sustainable levels, that's fine because there may be another 5 years to go before the next general election, so don't throw away this powerful and precious early momentum.

Also, has there been enough 'outreach' to all the towns in the country yet? Who is really losing interest here - the Pakatan leaders or the people? Who is feeling the fatigue? Why are there no efforts to galvanize public interest with new issues? Why zero search for new tacks to keep the flame burning? Also, why are only PKR and PAS involved and not DAP?

Does 'Ubah' stop with GE13 campaigning? What happens at GE14?

In the May 5 general election, DAP won the most seats with 38 versus PKR's 30 and PAS' 21. Most of their wins also came with thumping majorities. But is DAP really so strong? They should not forget that most of their wins came from Chinese-dominated seats which they insisted on and exerted enormous pressure on PKR and PAS to yield to their candidates. The fact is the Chinese are already pro-Opposition and there is no need to 'convert' their thinking. Maybe this is also why DAP leaders are reluctant to take risks and get nabbed for attending the Black 505 rallies. Instead some have even behaved like their Umno counterparts and actively contributed to the scaremongering over the event.

Let's not forget that it is what the voters want that counts, not the DAP, PAS or PKR leadership. The Chinese ardently want change and if they don't get this from DAP and Pakatan, they will look else where. So scrap the hype and thanksgiving rhetoric. The core electoral promise has already been broken. And to make it worse, it looks like the DAP leaders have no intention to stick their necks out to stop a repeat electoral robbery. It seems they just want to have their 5 years of being a Member of Parliament or state assembly-person. They want to stick to the safe and narrow path, immerse themselves in rhetoric but without carrying the burden of output. If this is so, at GE14, why should Malaysian Chinese vote for them again? They might as well stick with the mousy, greedy and selfish MCA. As for the Malays, it is odd but DAP is to most of them what Umno is to the non-Malays - something that the Pakatan leaders should take note of.

Pulling wool over the people's eyes: Fighters needed in the Opposition ring

It also seems like Pakatan may be experiencing a dose of 'over success' among its ranks. It is obvious that the pretty boy and girls of the Opposition, and a good example of these are in the DAP, seem to care more about the frills and fuss of being in Parliament, no? They certainly seem to hanker for the high government posts, the power-dressing that befits their double-barelled qualifications, the chauffeur-driven cars and plush-carpeted corridors of power.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with that. Just don't do it in the political space - especially that which belongs to the Opposition. In the Opposition ring - particularly in a semi-dictatorship like Malaysia -fighters are needed. Really tough ones. So like their counterparts in the MCA, DAP boys and girls should move on to the corporate scene where they can make more money although they won't enjoy so much fame. But stop wasting the precious 5-year mandates of the people. Do not repeat the non-achievement of the elder leaders and keep Malaysia forever floundering in Umno's ever-increasingly vicious cycle.

The acid test is simple. There is nothing hazy about this. For example, what is the point of raising motion after motion on the haze? What real or concrete result can Teo Nie Chieng or her rival Wee Ka Siong from MCA achieve here other than a fleeting puff for themselves? Face it, even Singapore strongman Lee Hsien Loong and his dad Lee Kuan Yew are powerless to reduce the haze in their precious republic.

Malaysian Opposition leaders should be honest and ask themselves - do the people want them to keep pointing out corruption case after corruption case, one cheating scam after another, haze year in and year out but at the end of the day be the same powerless people unable to make a real or concrete difference? We see Pakatan leaders at risk of failing in their primary duty, we believe they may lose sight of the main goal because of their desire for the fluff, and a good example is Bakri MP Er Teck Hwa who was apparently so terrified of being left out from Parliament that he broke party line to attend a briefing that was boycotted by the rest of the Opposition.

Really, what is the point of being in the fight if the Opposition is only making the motions of trying to win the federal government. Just yesterday Pakatan could not even stop Najib from cheating again in the secret ballot for the Speaker. And yet some of the Pakatan MPs have brazenly and a tad arrogantly declared their 'priority' to 'solve' the issue of the haze and to 'combat' the even more complex matter of corruption!

Seems to us that all the Umno-BN needs to do is to just threaten arrests, label an issue or event illegal and that's the last you see of some of these so-called "brave but at the same time kiasu" leaders from the Opposition! We say why should Malaysians vote for 'kiasu' leaders at all - be they from the Pakatan or the BN?

Round and round in circles

It takes a lot to be called a hero but what Malaysians need and deserve are heroes in their Opposition. This is the sad fact of politics. So do wake up, Pakatan. Also, wake up Malaysian voters. There is no doubt the so-called drastic responses that Anwar had tried to initiate are vital.

To stay relevant, some in the Pakatan - and they know who they are - must look at new strategies and stop the hot gas and rhetoric to mask their sheer political cowardice - no one is fooled! Look in the mirror and stop tricking themselves and the people. All Tony Puas in this world could never stop the corruption in KLIA2 or in the ministry of defense if they continue to keep their heads buried in the sand!

Instead, the cheating and corruption only increases because as Tony and his Pakatan colleagues including Rafizi Ramli holler out the Umno-BN's worst secrets, it is not in the least bit scared! Umno-BN leaders don't care at all because they know - as proven in the past 5 years - that Pakatan can blow the whistle as much as they like but they can't do anything more than that. So who wins then, and who loses? The answer is pretty obvious - Umno-BN gets the illicit cash, Pakatan gets the publicity, the people lose.

Really, the time has come to stop being 'clever children'. Political prodigies are a waste of time. Malaysia is near bankruptcy and no one has time for 'smart-alec' stories that yield no concrete results in the end.

So what can Pakatan do?

Pakatan will have to go back to basics and try to learn from the examples of other countries that managed to shake off the shackles of political dictatorships.

Let's have a quick look at just one. Let's go to South America and take a look at Brazil where the citizens have marched on the streets, blocked roads and halted traffic in more than a half-dozen cities, including Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte and Brasilia, as well as swarming past the Congress and Presidential Palace because of a hike in transport fares from 3.00 to 3.20.

We highlight this example because like in Malaysia, the ruling politicians in Brazil only defend their own interests, wasting public funds and unlawfully enriching themselves while the various law enforcement officials are known to be equally as corrupt. However, the economy is active. Money is easy to earn and the ordinary people there can still manage to get a small slice of the economic pie. Hence, it is easy to close an eye on the new government which had inherited the sound economy from ex-President Lula. But the new government, like Najib's, has failed to sustain real or developmental growth and has to keep on spending without having priorities in order to hide the truth from the people.

If the Brazil protests were just about transport fares, few would be taking notice. But the fare increase was merely the last straw –there were so many issues that had outraged the Brazilians. Ultimately, it all boils down to “their dissatisfaction and total disbelief in politicians.” This was why the protest became so massive - enough to pressure a real solution, if not a complete change in government.

Sense of urgency vital

Street protests are not the only way. Sometimes, street demos are counter-productive because they make the ruling regime more authoritarian, resolute, vigilant and inventive in maintaining the status quo. Unless massive enough, street demonstrations are seldom enough to constitute a serious threat to the regime's survival.

At the moment, the Black 505 peaceful gatherings are not a threat and cannot spark any immediate governmental changes. But they sure make a helluva statement. And with the right approach and development, Black 505 can be used to harness enormous public support plus an all-important sense of urgency that is still sorely lacking despite Malaysia being in a really precarious position - socially, democratically and economically.

The lesson to take home from the Brazilian example is that the focus of their protests was on "collective grievances”, not just about transport fares. For the Black 505 gatherings here, the focus was on the “common grievances” suffered by voters due to the lack electoral reforms and the frauds perpetrated during the election. The scope of Black 505 can easily be expanded because the chest of wrongdoings of the UMNO-BN is too deep and way too wide.

And another key point is that the Black 505 must retain its core feature of being a peaceful gathering. Given the amiable nature of the Malaysian people plus the good track of the rallies held so far, this should not be beyond the organizers.

Mass civil pressure exerted peacefully, with dignity and regularly can achieve dramatic results. There is no need for the violence of the Arab uprisings to bring about change here. All it takes is for Malaysians to keep repeating their demands to the government in a very VISIBLE way - stop the nonsense. Enough is enough!

How to fight a 'law unto itself'

In Malaysia, where Umno is dominant, it is almost impossible to change the government through the ballot box because of the past gerrymandering by unscrupulous people including Mahathir Mohamad and even Abdullah Badawi.

However, the Umno legacy of “collective grievances” inflicted onto the rest of the country may in the end be its own undoing. This is the crucial common denominator that unites 51% of Malaysians against them.

The second tie is the social media network that helped to communicate down the line the latest developments and happenings in the Opposition, uniting it with the people of the county and the rest of the world.

Without freedom of speech and a free press, the Umno-BN government could take any action or make any laws it wants unobserved by its own people and the outside world.

It is ironic that in GE13, Pakatan has won 7 more seats and taken 51% of the popular vote while Umno-BN has slid further. Yet over the next 5 years, the going will be tougher for Pakatan than for Umno-BN.

The call is very clear for greater courage from the Pakatan. It not yet time for it to rest on its laurels and to 'enjoy' the fruits of its hard work yet. Otherwise, Malaysians voters will dump Pakatan in GE14 for not doing enough to fulfill their primary request - which is to take over the federal government and make real, broad-based, structural reforms to save this country.

The test before the Pakatan MPs as they doll themselves up to take their oaths at Parliament is far greater than for Umno-BN, which by now is practically a law unto itself and therefore lawless. Umno leaders have managed to get away scot-free despite all the outrageous tricks and stunts they pulled the past 5 years.

So Pakatan MPs, especially the 'boys and girls', please get savvy and learn 'guerrilla warfare' real fast because you will now be fighting a completely lawless and amoral entity.

Malaysia Chronicle

Komen Anda

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