Are you sure Malaysia is still a democracy?

Nawawi Mohamad, Hornbill Unleashed

The line separating good and evil passes neither through states nor between political parties either, but straight through the human heart – Alexander Solzhenitsyn

To measure success, there has to be a bench mark or a comparison to a similar situation elsewhere; we cannot compare Malaysia with Malaysia, it will prove nothing. However today, Malaysia is at crossroads in almost every aspect of our daily lives and activities; social, religious, economy, education and politics. Which nation should be compared to Malaysia at this point of time as the situation is much worse than that expected?

Lest, readers should jump on Singapore – it is in a league in a league of its own. A popular ‘dictatorship’ is indeed a real rarity. So, let’s compare Malaysia with Russia, which has just only experienced democracy in 1990.

Russia has also experienced turmoil, upheavals, revolutions and has also been bailed out twice – once by the USA to the tune of about USD1 billion to stabilize the rouble in 1996, and another by the IMF and Japan amounting to USD 22.6 billion in 1998 under President Boris Yeltsin. These bailouts were necessary to prevent the Russian economic meltdown which would have affected the world’s economy.

Snap shots of early post perestroika Russia compared with Malaysia today

Immediately after communism was rejected by the Russians with the fall and disintegration of the USSR in 1990 under Mikhail Gorbachev with his perestroika, the country turned chaotic without a coherent system of running the country. But it is a norm during the transition period for any mass changes or revolution. Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak too has his own version of change – the  Economic Transformation Program.

In Gorbachev’s Russia, those in power were the same people from the Communist party but in different clothes. The most peculiar aspect of the Russian problem was the mafiya who got things done for the authorities; in fact they controlled the authorities. They are the big criminals, the ones called vory v zakone – thieves in law! They have their mafiya lieutenants, the brodyagi – pit bulls – to harass any stubborn citizens. Our Polis Di Raja Malaysia and the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission have  apparently been acting that way too.

Anyway, the pitbulls and the mafiya had the most advanced weapons, cars and all the good things in life that money could buy. The local government was so corrupt that fake items sold by street vendors were often of better quality then those supplied by government outlets. By the way, this has some similarity to Najib’s Kedai Rakyat 1Malaysia or KR1M products!

Still, capitalism had arrived in Russia, wrapped in hope and glory. At that time though, it didn’t seem as if it had come to save Russia, but to finish it off instead. The word “demokrad” grew to have two meanings; the first was obvious, the second was thief. Russia was then from its own citizens’ point of view the vorovskoi mir – or thieves’ world, and in which runs the krugovye poruki or family circle. This sounds quite familiar to the Shahrizat Jalil-family run NFC in Gemas but more so in terms of what the UMNO-BN government has done with our funds and resources thus far as one big family, helping themselves without being invited and often without permission.

With capitalism, more foreigners continued to come to Russia and to be Russian is to be suspicious of foreigners. Look at what has happened in Malaysia – forreign workers fare better than many of the poorer Malaysians!

The ordinary Russian citizens lamented, “It is one thing to be poor when you are building something. It is another thing to be poor so that some rich thief can get richer”. Isn’t the situation in Malaysia the same as this?

Present day Russia

Anyhow, that was before. The present day Russia has been able to get back its greatness, well at least it is much better off anyway, so much so that the Russian president was recently able to tell NATO-US that Russia would boost its strike nuclear capabilities if NATO refuses to cooperate with Moscow in the European missiles defense project. Contrast with Malaysia, who cannot even fire a single missile used by the RMAF fighter jets unless the US gave the password. This fact was admitted to by Mahathir not too long ago. We can’t even control our borders against the tide of illegal immigrants marching in.

A report in EUobserver in September this year that Russia is also in a position to help bail out another Eurozone economy. Eurozone member Cyprus is set to join Greece, Ireland and Portugal by seeking external aid to prop up its finances. But unlike the EU and IMF bail-out packages, its loans are to come from Russia with “no strings attached”. In November, Reuters reported that Russia led a second USD 440 million bailout fund for Belarus part of a USD 3.0 billion package. Malaysia, on the other hand, may soon also be on the list of those who need bailing out. But by whom, is the question? The IMF? Won’t it impose the strictest conditions with so many strings attached?

Russia has also been able to tap its natural resources for development and its oil and gas are being supplied to almost all of the east European countries and many other natural resources are still waiting to be tapped. As for Malaysia’s own natural resources – well, put it this way. We can’t even get some decent discount although the country is a net exporter of oil!