Thursday, February 12, 2009

Malaysian Anomie: Shenanigans and Sleaze rules...

"Malaysia’s addiction to conspiracy theories is quite incurable, fed as it is by dose after dose of bewildering episodes and partisan posturing. It is not only Perak that is suffering a constitutional crisis. The whole country is mired in a misguided democracy." ~ Ooi Kee Beng, in Today

After pausing and reflecting on the momentous year that was, the start of the year 2009 could not have been any more melodramatic.

Indeed, all the seedy goings-on crescendoed into what must rank as one of the most turbulent first 2 months of possibly any year for Malaysians! Unfortunately, these aren't happenings that anyone can be proud of.

These are more dispiriting than uplifting. Indeed they have dampened the ebullient mood of many Malaysians who had hoped for greater political change and democratic gain following the 2008 elections, just a mere 10 months ago...

What started as polemical jousting and rumblings turned into a farcical comedy of errors and cynical one-upmanship of the crassest! An earlier defection to Pakatan Rakyat (PR) by one dubious Barisan Nasional (BN) state assemblyman, U-turned into an abrupt all-out assault on the erstwhile PR-led government of Perak, with the cynical defections of 3 PR assemblymen to enable a highly controversial BN take-over of the state.

Somehow, the usually aloof royalty has also been drawn into this quagmire, when its decision to allow the change of government was made despite vociferous if futile calls for fresh state elections, to truly determine the rakyat's choice.

By refusing to bow to this unexpected debacle and sudden loss of power, PR's Menteri Besar Nizar Jamaluddin, suddenly became his (PAS) party's democratic stand-up hero, but also considered by his UMNO detractors as a stubborn ingrate of treachery most foul!

This then triggered a convenient round of recriminations and accusations of 'derhaka' or treason against those who had dared challenge the wisdom and decision of the royalty! Led by UMNO, BN now plangently proclaim its swinging new tune and melody of pro-royalist allegiance, with frenzied protestations of loyalty and avowed claims of protecting the institution of the Malay Royalty forever.

Ironically, this runs in sharp contrast to the earlier Trengganu Sultan's decision to install his own choice of Menteri Besar. Only then, UMNO-led politicians were loudly critical, if not also 'treasonous' in demanding that royalty acquiesce with the expectations of the rakyat.

Azly Rahman has once again nailed the issue when he discussed this antithetical mindset of our Malays in particular, in malaysiakini's article "From Daulat to Derhaka"

How quickly memory fades and tunes change when political occurrences favour one or the other. Such is the status of politics--expediency, erstwhile elastic memories and short-term gains almost always prevail, if only to be overturned or improved upon at a later more enlightened era...

Correctness of purpose and ethics are as flexible and malleable as plasticine, and depends only on who calls the shots, ultimately. No wonder that ordinary folks find politics and politicians so skeptical, so dirty, so self-serving...

In my mind, there are no two ways about this. Party hopping so soon after an election is a cynical betrayal of the public's trust. This practice should be totally banned and made impossible, even if necessary by new and better anti-hopping laws. This will forestall and eradicate the growing spectre of illegal enrichment and worse corrupt promises and practices which taints the politician and the parties concerned even more, making a mockery of our burgeoning democracy.

There can be no denying that during the recent elections and again during the hard-fought by-elections, that the people are the ones who had decided which party they wanted. Again and again it had shown that it does not matter who the actual candidate was; what matters is the party that represents the aspirations and the wishes of the rakyat.

To surreptitiously induce lesser-minded, morally-dubious politicians to switch party is to encourage the culture of mindless expediency and personal greed at its worst!

Such political shenanigans only show blatant disregard and disdain for the rakyat. Political manoeuvrings, machinations and victory at any cost, appear to condone dubious policies and practices which border on illegality or extremely skewed legal interpretations. They reflect a facile penchant for bendable rules and show utter disrespect for social acceptance and norms.

It even appears that the current bully pulpit of Malaysian politics can even get away with whatever it chooses, in the most cynical display of arrogance. Shameless primadonnas even parade themselves with the smugness that flusters one's sense of goodwill, fairness and equanimity.

Such exhibition of unabashed coldhearted contempt for the citizens, with the absolute goal of winning at all costs, can only create a sense of anomie and despair for our rakyat!

Is there no rule which matters any more?

Is political expediency the only law of the land left?

Is there no hope for change for the better?

Let common sense return and prevail once again!

Let the will of the rakyat remain supreme.

Let's not becloud the real issues of proper and moral governance with extraneous if contrived umbrages and baggages of royalty-baiting or shifty sycophancy for convenience and expedience's sake!

Let Malaysia have a New and Real People-empowered Beginning!

This has been published in malaysiakini on 26 Feb 2009.