Elections? For what? And for whose benefit?

Joe Samad, Free Malaysia Today

The term of the current government, the third in power since May 2018, will end in mid-July 2023, less than a year’s time. But a bunch of selfish politicians are calling for an early general election as if they own the country.

Inflation and the declining value of the ringgit has hit every household, but some party leaders are already salivating at the prospect of regaining the power and monetary benefits that they lost in the 2018 general election.

Not so much about helping the rakyat in these challenging times.

It’s distressing to know that there are very few options available for Malaysians. Old and tainted politicians are offering themselves again while the youth who have been given the power to vote are nowhere in sight.

Where are the young leaders?

People are hoping that the youth will make the difference and produce new leaders who can change the political landscape. No such luck.

While the leaders in certain countries are getting younger, like Sanna Marin, Finland’s Prime Minister at the age of 34, and more women are given a chance to lead, like Britain’s Liz Truss and Italy’s Giorgia Meloni, Malaysia is likely to get old and tainted men long past their shelf life.

With one former prime minister Najib Razak in and out of jail, and one very old person, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, claiming “altruism” and offering to be PM for the third time, there is nothing to look forward to.

Malaysia has been the laughing stock of the world far too long.

Race and religion is a drawcard for some ignorant people but it’s off-putting for many who seek a different kind of Malaysia. While East Malaysians have kept their racial and religious harmony intact despite Umno’s presence in Sabah, Peninsular Malaysia politicians are still splitting the people and turning one against the other.

Gone and not coming back

People who are fed up have left our shores and many others are seeking to leave. Many students who have graduated in foreign countries refuse to come back, except for holidays, to enjoy the food or to reconnect with their families.

Malaysia is still their home but they prefer to keep their distance. Earning better salaries overseas, and enjoying the freedom and a good life, there is no reason to come back and face the same kind of corrupt leaders who do not appreciate what they can contribute to the country. These Malaysian graduates are now helping developed countries in the field of IT, science and medicine.

Just look at the advancement of Perth, Australia. It just proves that Malaysian immigrants can make a difference and bring diversity and service for the people irrespective of race and religion. I am talking about Sam Lim, the Muar-born Malaysian who became the MP for Tangey.

Even our Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob, in a tweet, failed to recognise the significance of the event when he praised Lim who spoke for a few seconds in Bahasa Melayu in his maiden speech at the Australian Parliament.

The example of Sam Lim

Our prime minister’s number one priority is to speak in Bahasa Melayu — used by probably less than 3% of the world’s population. But Ismail failed to mention that Sam Lim spoke mostly in English and also in Chinese, his mother tongue.

Most graduates from local universities can hardly converse in English or compete on merit, like Sam Lim in his adopted country. This is truly “Malaysia Boleh”.

If Sam Lim (an ex-police officer) had remained in Malaysia, he would have remained in the lower ranks of the police force because of his race, and his children would have been educated at a mediocre local university (if they can get past the Bumiputera quota).

Malaysia is different from the time of formation in 1963. It’s no longer inclusive for all people.

There is the class of elitist Malay politicians, the digital divide between urban and rural areas, and inequality between the B40 and the top strata of the Malaysian population, which is getting wider mostly due to external factors beyond our control. And there is climate change, bringing greater floods and environmental damage.

Pakatan Harapan’s failings

There was hope and renewed faith in Malaysia when Pakatan Harapan dislodged Umno-BN from its stranglehold on all facets of Malaysian life. Umno-BN was not particularly bad, and admittedly did bring development while also helping themselves to the riches of what Malaysia has to offer.

Unfortunately, PH’s leadership remained very much in an Umno mentality carried over by former members of that party. Mahathir and Muhyiddin, and now Ismail, carry the same political DNA; they’ve only changed clothes. The phrase a leopard cannot change its spots is an apt description of the Umno remnants.

The real reason to vote

The current confidence and supply agreement between political parties should continue.

In this arrangement, a party or independent MPs support the government in motions of confidence and budget appropriations, by agreeing to either vote in favour or abstaining, as they are now doing to prop up Ismail’s government.

This is already in place. It’s not a perfect system, but it seems to be working for Malaysia in the interim.

The downside is the compromise with PAS, who are bent on introducing shariah laws and turning Malaysia into an Islamic state much like Iran and Afghanistan. Banning concerts and warning Muslims against saying RIP are examples of their bigoted minds. Previously, we had the Allah issue, and then Muslims being told not to wish Christians, Merry Christmas and so forth.

If there is any reason to call for an election, it is to give PAS a drubbing at the polls.