The 13th General Elections: The Fight To Save Malaysia

A proper system of check and balance must be put in place to ensure that it is irrelevant as to who is in power, but that they are denied a two-third majority enabling them to run this country as Kings.

By Vivek

As the clock struck 12 on the stroke of midnight, fireworks erupted across Malaysia as her beloved children ushered in another year full of promise and hope. We were united in our gale and celebrated with much gusto for there was much to look forward to in 2012 and
Malaysia stood strong, ready once more to face the challenges strewn in its path.

However, 1 month into the New Year and the celebrations have somewhat been deflated and we have been forcibly splashed with the cold waters of reality. Beneath Malaysia’s beauty and dexterity, the country is fighting against a disease that has for so long ailed her.

The problems remained, if not grew in the last month and it didn’t take long for us to return to the norm of political bickering, economic scandals and negative publicity on the international stage as we began preparations for the 13th General Elections.

For all the efforts of the Najib Razak administration to sugar-coat our dire plight, there are simply too many holes to be plugged. The political landscape was altered slightly with Anwar Ibrahim’s acquittal of his sodomy charge and soon after, both the Government and Opposition began preparations for the upcoming elections by firing shots at each other.

Note that the bullets astray hit not either party and their members but we the Rakyat who once again find ourselves in the middle of a power struggle which continuously weighs down on our nation writhing to move forward. One might argue that the upcoming elections will be the most pivotal elections this country has faced since gaining independence from the British.

I concur for while there are many sub-plots and underlying issues that come with this election, the fate of Malaysia and the fate of the future generation is what is being played for.


In 1993, the World Bank produced a 400 page report on the Asian Economics and Malaysia was dubbed the Tiger of Asia with an annual growth of 9% in comparison with South Korea’s 6% and Singapore’s 7%. Our GDP per capita stood at US$350 in contrast to South Korea’s US$130. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) was also at its highest of US$7.3 Billion whereas our market capitalisation was ranked 1st in Asia at 14.6% (excluding Japan).

Fast forward to the present, Malaysia has never recovered from the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997 and since then we have fallen behind Singapore, South Korea and Hong Kong and now sit at par with Indonesia and Philippines.

While both Singapore and Hong Kong built up their portfolios by providing lucrative incentives and a favourable environment for investors to do business, Malaysia’s stock exchange (BURSA Malaysia) recorded a drop in listings from 1025 companies to 976 in 2009.

The final blow came from the World Investment Report (WID) 2010 whereby stating that Malaysia suffered a staggering 81.1% drop in FDI compared to Thailand’s 30.4% and Indonesia’s 44.7%. This shocking indictment of the current economic state of our country should come as no surprise for it was revealed that as of 30 June 2011, the country’s debt stands at 53% wherein if it touches 55%, the Constitution will have to be altered to increase borrowings and we may face the similar disposition of Greece and opt for a bailout.

While Malaysia continues to be ploughed under debts, the Government continues to spend lavishly ignoring the economic climate to ensure that the ruling power remains in their hands. Most notably, petrol and sugar prices both respectively being subsidised have been kept in check although being distorted by market value.

The question that begs to be answered is why as petroleum producers, we currently face this deplorable position? The New Economic Model (NEM) proposed by the Prime Minister in the first year of his regime failed to curb our decline as he released Part 1 which effectively was rendered useless as we continued the implementation of the New Economic Policy (NEP) which advocates racial-policies instead of merit based policies albeit using the backdoor. The 30% quota for tenders and projects reserved exclusively for Bumiputeras continued and this further added to wounds of the economy.

One would only have to look at the states run by the Opposition to note that both the Malays and Non-Malays have benefited from open tenders based on merit as Penang and Selangor posted the highest number of investment and profits respectively. The poverty level of both these states also reduced.

Tun Dr Ismail in his memorable speech once stated that the special rights accorded to the Malays were a handicap and that as Malays moved up the economic ladder; they too will denounce the need for these rights.

What can be seen today is the middle class and poorer Malays continue to struggle within the NEP framework as only the cronies and politically connected benefit. Bumiputera trust funds have declined in the past 20 years while individual riches continue to soar and this further illustrates the divide and preferred allocation of the failing NEP policy.


The teaching of Mathematics and Science in English was the result of a policy by the Education Ministry of 2003 under the guidance of former Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohammad with the rationale made based on the government’s concern on the nation’s human capital development towards achieving the standard of a developed country, as well as an early preparation to compete globally on a standardized platform. However, this policy was reverted by current Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister, Datuk Seri Muhyiddin Yasin in the middle of 2011 in which he introduced the ‘Memartabatkan Bahasa Melayu, Memperkukuh Bahasa Inggeris‘ (MBMBI) with the intention of protecting the sovereignty of the national language while improving the teaching of the English language.

In the modern era of globalisation, countries such as Singapore and Hong Kong have even accepted the importance of a single unitary language in which business transactions can be carried out. Despite this, Malaysia under the BN government continues to baffle as we take a huge step backwards in achieving Vision 2020.

The number one complaint dished out by potential employers when asked about problems faced by our undergraduates intending to enter the work force is down to a poor command of the English language. It is to be noted that no Malaysian Public University made the QS University Top 100 rank while our neighbour Singapore (National University of Singapore #28) and South Korea (POSTECH #98) both made the listing.

Devoid of lucid reasoning, the Government’s insistence on reverting back their PPSMI policy can be derived from pressure from extremist right-wing groups within UMNO to ensure Malay votes and money received from tenders given to re-print the textbooks. The Education Ministry’s statement that our education system is parallel to that of world standards is almost laughable and more so doleful when most notable politicians send their children to private schools and foreign education institutes to pursue their tertiary education.


Even if the economy is allowed freedom to grow without hindrance and our education system matched to that of Singapore and China, Malaysia is still subjugated under the clutches of corruption being ranked at #60 in the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2011 below African countries such as Namibia, Kuwait and Rwanda with Singapore being ranked at number #5.

To put in a nutshell, how do you expect the country to prosper under a corrupt free regime when even those put in place to prevent the problem commits the crime. The credibility of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) is tangible with the case of Teoh Beng Hock and 3 of their own officers arrested for stealing hanging over their heads. Besides that, the recently exposed NFC scandal is another indication of how corruption has infiltrated and is now controlling Government transactions. The humour in this is that the individuals being exposed are merely the small fishes in the grand scheme of things.

After 5 decades of single party ruling, democracy has suffered severely under the hands of the Government with the independence of the judiciary almost non-existent. The tabled Peaceful Assembly Act 2011 has been a farce constricting basic human rights accorded to us in the Federal Constitution. Even the press and media are not to be spared as they are forcibly held under threat of licensing by Barisan Nasional culminating with Reporters Without Borders ranking Malaysia #124 in their annual Press Freedom Index (PFI) 2011, 3 spots below Zimbabwe.

As a resultant juxtaposition, the people are sowed with seeds of doubts while the Government continues to play the race card using the media as their tool. We are also no longer held credible by potential investors and stand to lose out in billions of dollars further constricting our economy.

The points illustrated above are merely the outward context of our ominous quandary and there are still many issues yet to be resolved. If this proves any inclination that the time has come for positive change, then we cannot afford to placate and console our fears or delegate the onus for action to someone else. Malaysia needs her children more than ever to stand up and be counted, to rid her of this malady and to restore her to her former glory. The path towards reformation will be long and arduous, revamping policies will take courage and commitment but if there was a time for it, this General Election could be a make or break situation for our country.

I refuse to be drawn into the Barisan Nasional versus Pakatan Rakyat debate for the game of politics can have several winners but the only consistent losers will be the public. Be it the Government or Opposition, our duty as citizens of Malaysia is to ensure that the incumbent regime and future leaders of this country remember who they serve.

A proper system of check and balance must be put in place to ensure that it is irrelevant as to who is in power, but that they are denied a two-third majority enabling them to run this country as Kings. In the words of Noam Chomsky, “to some degree, it matters who is in office but it matters more how much pressure they are under from the public”.

We cannot ill afford to let this General Elections go to waste less we forever remain in this abysmal position and continue on a spiral decline erasing all the hard work, sweat and blood of our forefathers. The 13th General Elections will not be about the colossal battle between Najib Razak and Anwar Ibrahim neither is it about which coalition conquers Putrajaya. The 13th General Election will be the fight to save Malaysia.

The writer is currently pursuing his LLB(Hons), passionate about all things Malaysian and passes his time interpreting the subtle nuances of the nation’s many voices while sipping his daily dose of teh tarik.