Sunday, 12 August 2012

Desperado BN making us cry in exasperation - NEIL KHOR

COMMENT For those who are not familiar with The Eagles, the latter are an American rock band with many a hit. They started playing a little more than 40 years ago and are known for songs like ‘Hotel California’, ‘Tequila Sunrise’ and, most relevant to Malaysian politics, ‘Desperado’.

Looking back at the month that was, one does not know whether to laugh or cry. I believe most informed Malaysians are laughing so hard, they are in stitches and tears. On the other hand, the issues are so serious and things so gloomy that some of us are crying in exasperation.

Unfortunately most of the problems are associated with the desperate, poorly coordinated and brainless antics of the party in power. Here is a list of ten in no particular order:

NONEOne - Selangor is said to be facing a water crisis and now the state is at risk of running out of power. All because the Selangor state government is dragging its feet and refusing to play ball. The reality is that utilities should rightly be managed by the state. Privatisation, in the case of water management in the state, has failed.

Similarly, it is not the fault of the Selangor state government for taking into consideration public concern regarding power lines. Yet, we are expected to believe that Selangor is badly managed. This campaign to paint the Selangor state government has instead backfired.

Two - Penang is well managed but the chief minister is allegedly having an affair with an former staff member. The CM and his wife are attacked personally; their teenage son is also not spared the smear tactics. With nothing else to attack the Penang state government, detractors have decided to go below the belt.

But leading the charge is a man who is caught on video having oral sex. Once again, one set of rules for the ruling elite and another for members of the opposition. No, this is nothing but gutter politics and the Penang CM is emerging to be a stoic and principled politician. This tactic, too, has failed.

Three - Let’s appeal the court decision to acquit Anwar Ibrahim on sodomy charges and create Sodomy III. Now, the legal definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over again hoping for a different result. Sodomy I did not work, sodomy II confirmed that there is something "rotten in the state of Denmark", and if there is sodomy III, we might as well just run our own individual legal systems.

It will take many generations to undo the loss of respect and believe we have in the legal system especially the judiciary. Once again, this is positively the most ridiculous political tactic.

NONEFour - A vote for DAP is a step closer to apostasy. Wow, how original. Not only does this show that the BN no longer occupies the middle-ground, it clearly shows it has lost it completely.

Now, they used to say that imitation is the best form of flattery. Umno’s Utusan Malaysia imitating PAS is not a really bad thing except that it is the PAS of the 1980s; one that was very much a fringe party confined to pre-Internet rural states. Nope, this tactic is not a vote winner.

‘Cannot depend on windfalls’

Five - It is raining cash! Quite literally, the government seems to be throwing cash away for every single thing. There is BRIM, 1MDB, coupons for school text books, aid of all sorts and bonuses for the vote bank. Really nice for those Malaysians who have benefited except that it is all public money and all of it is contributing to our exploding budget deficit.

We are now running a real risk of being downgraded and this means it will cost more to borrow money for development projects. No, this is not the way to alleviate problems faced by Malaysians. They cannot depend on windfalls. These measures are unsustainable and the feel-good factor does not last. So, just cancel income tax of the next two years and call for elections immediately. Maybe that can be a vote winner.

Six - All that money being channelled to Malaysians and at the same time scandal after scandal makes it to the front-pages of the mainstream press after the opposition make revelations that cannot be ignored. Yes, the Felda farmer may be getting his RM10,000 but after RM250 million is lost putting cows in condominiums.

In this endeavour to get rich by any means, even sacred cows like Felda, UDA and Malay reserve land is not spared. Yes, nothing is sacred. Yet, we are fed with good cheer every day. The biggest IPOs in the world, the best deals ever, the economy is under-going transformation. I guess transformation felt only by the very well connected.

Seven - All of us are immigrants but some of us refuse to forget about our origins and are therefore less patriotic. How to deal with an old statesman who is going a bit batty but still given so much leeway because we respect our elders. I guess, we will just have to put up with this slow decline into senility.

That is is the situation in peninsular Malaysia but not in Sabah, where illegal immigrants are given ICs by very patriotic Malaysians. In any other country, what was done in Sabah can be viewed as treason but not here. Perhaps, this is the same idea that has given rise to a huge number of new voters in Selangor. After all, as long as they speak Bahasa Malaysia and forget their origins (even for a while during the next GE), they can be made our citizens.

azlanEight - Crime is not on the rise, so says the statistics. Apparently, our political masters have not heard of the social media and how it allows information to travel the distance. Crime may not be on the rise statistically but the perception that we are not safe is definitely on the rise.

And what about crimes that are unreported? What about crimes that are increasingly more violent? Surely, by denying reality, people are not about to feel more secure! An insecure electorate is not one that can be trusted to return the vote of confidence a government needs every five years.

‘Umno now the weakest link’

Nine - PKR is the weak-link and the end of Pakatan is near! Yes, we've heard that one since April 2008. It is now four years later. The government has to realise that PKR is hear to stay and will, in all probability, grow bigger and stronger.

In fact, it will out-grow Anwar Ibrahim and that is a good thing. It has younger, better-educated leaders and has all the potential to bring about a new dawn for Malaysia. By the same argument, one can say that the BN’s component parties are now paying the price of its weakest link - Umno.

Ten - Yellow is a terrible color (no offense to the royals) because BN says so! In fact, only BN can determine the slogan of Merdeka because Umno, MCA & MIC got independence from the British after much blood, tears and sweat.

I am not so sure about the blood part - I think that was the contribution of the Malayan Communist Party by dying in droves - but heck if Umno says so, it must be true. Promises kept is a good campaign, if only it were true. No, Malaysians simply do not trust BN and by behaving so arrogantly, why should we pander to and sing the lyrics that the most uncreative human being on earth crafted.

So, these ten items are by no means exhaustive but they are indicators of how desperate things are for the party in power. Four years since it turned its back on the middle ground, the BN is now well and truly a party of desperadoes.

NEIL KHOR completed his PhD at Cambridge University and now writes occasionally on matters that he thinks requires better historical treatment. He is quietly optimistic about Malaysia's future.

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