Political Post-Coital Blues

By batsman 

OK so PR is in danger of losing the by-election for Tenang. Donations and collections for the by-elections continue to be pitiful. Some say this is to be expected. But why rush to win elections when your own house is not in order especially one that is expected to be lost? It is as if the excuse of ‘urgency’ is being exploited to force people to concentrate their attention on winning elections and compromise on continuing to live in a dirty disease-ridden house.

The question is now whether we should do some house cleaning or postpone this on the excuse that the urgency of winning the next GE cannot be ignored, that all the dirt that hides dangerous diseases should be left alone until we win elections. The next question is of course, will we have any free time even (if) after winning the elections? 

Will we be told that we need to pay attention to the next urgency of fighting off BN sabotage and saving the PR government from collapsing. In the meantime, there is no time to clean the festering disease-ridden dirt hiding in the corners, under the stairs, under the beds, in the kitchen cabinets, under the sink and in the toilets. Will we be told that we still need the ISA as well as shady politicians and businessmen to raise funds for the cause in order to protect a PR government that does not know how to clean house? 

Such dirt need to be cleaned out. It may take time, but until this is done, I am of the opinion that it is too early for the PR to take power. 

The PR that takes power must be one cleaned of dirt not just on a one off basis, but which knows how to do house cleaning and maintenance on a regular basis. Only then will disease and fire risks be kept under control and prevented from spreading its poison and destruction. 

With reference to the tsunami of 2008, the advocates of seizing the opportunity while the iron is hot are precisely of an opportunistic frame of mind. Unfortunately the downside of opportunism is giving up too easily. Now that the realization that the iron has cooled down begins to set in, these people simply walk away, ignore appeals for donations and try to forget everything, which is something they probably find very easy to do, especially with a few excuses and some rationalization  thrown in (such as stupid comments or reports of coffee shop talk that the Chinese think that if MCA is gone, they will lose all representation as Chinese). 

I am not averse to seizing opportunities, but the iron was already starting to cool down some time ago, especially after September 16th. It was time for good housekeeping, but unfortunately everyone was kept occupied with firefighting while the opportunists still talked of seizing the opportunity, ignoring the fact that housekeeping is part and parcel of seizing the opportunity with practical work not just slogans. 

Timing is everything, so I am submitting an argument that we should now not concentrate on the 13th GE but the 14th GE purely because the short term advantage is already lost and we should concentrate on the longer term. Whether this is another form of opportunism is for you to judge. 

Marriage is full of ups and downs. After post-coital blues, it is time to work hard to win back commitment, love and affection and not take things for granted. 

If we have to rush about firefighting to save the PR from collapse, then the PR by extension is not strong enough to be trusted with responsibility and power. If the PR cannot work hard to win back the commitment, trust and affection of the people, then the PR is truly lost. The marriage was based on young love, not true love. 

The question is how is this to be done? I submit that we forget short term advantage and concentrate on the long term. 

This means building the PR on a firmer foundation of commitment, integrity and trust for the reform programme. The decision has to be made whether one wins power and then goes about reforming, or does one build up one’s credentials for true reforms and be trusted implicitly (best with the support of empowered citizens) before making a serious attempt to win power. 

Taking a small lesson from Tunisia, lots of sacrifices were made by heroic Tunisians, but the opposition was not ready for thorough going reforms let alone winning political power. The result is a compromise cabinet comprising old brokers from the old regime who were happy to see the back of the old President and the worst abuses, but who may or may not be ready to give up their old ways and privileges yet. 

The Tunisian tsunami occurred, but whether the reformists are strong enough to succeed is yet to be seen. They have to play the game to the best of their ability and each situation is unique. We can only glean short lessons from it at this time. 

The long term advantage of the PR is that the people can no longer see UMNO in the same old way. UMNO is now seen with a heavy dose of uncertainty and suspicion even if practical realities and the weaknesses in the PR force some people to continue to vote for it. Only the worst fanatics and cheats now see UMNO as a decent political party with integrity. 

Even the Malays already find it difficult to stomach a regime based on favouritism, cronyism and connections, yet the MCA still see fit to play on the old election tactics of Islamophobia and chauvinism. This means that the BN has difficulty finding new solutions to problems and reforming itself. In spite of the promises of the 1 Malaysia advertising campaign, the BN is stuck with the old ways and the old connections. 

The BN is not able to accept that Malaysians now find mutual respect of each others’ values and traditions something worthwhile exploring. So while the BN’s 1 Malaysia advertising campaign celebrates multi-racial tolerance, the MCA cannot help but go around complaining that PAS women candidates avoid shaking hands with male voters. This is the true face of the BN. The 1 Malaysia campaign is just a lie. The BN cannot retain power without tactics of divide and rule. 

Unfortunately some chauvinists who claim to support the PR swallow BN’s thinking and attitude whole. They can only think in terms of the superiority of their own race and treat mutual respect between races as beneath their dignity. Such chauvinists are the perfect complement to Ketuanan Melayu types yet they continue to spread their poisonous comments here in MT blog without even a hint of realization. 

This is also one of the important reasons why the PR needs to do some good housekeeping. These chauvinists need to be expelled even if they just claim to be supporters and not members of the PR component parties. 

Islamophobia and racial / religious stereotyping need to be cast into the past and no longer act as obstacles to the future of Malaysia. It is not just Interlok which is a problem in the education syllabus. Other books have similar problems. But this has not been picked up by the PR. This means that the BN is stereo typing racial prejudice and using it as role models in the education syllabus for young Malaysians. This also means that the PR badly needs housekeeping if it has not been able to pick up such racial stereo-typing and prejudice in our education syllabus. So much for 1 Malaysia. 

Lastly, is what I have just written sabotaging the PR’s efforts in the Tenang by-elections? What do you think?