We can vote them out!

by The Watchman

My fellow Malaysians, the 13th General Election is just round the corner and we have been presented with a great opportunity to dislodge the incumbent from power. After the watershed 2008 elections, for the first time Malaysians feel that a change of government is possible.

Why am I advocating for change, you might ask? Some may say, “Why exchange stability for uncertainty?” The answer is quite simple actually. Like all political parties in the world who have held on to power for too long, (the PRI of Mexico and the LDP of Japan instantly comes to mind), they are too entrenched and are incapable of reform.

Lord Acton’s oft quoted maxim, “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” holds true in our country today. The sheer arrogance of BN is clear proof of a government in power past its sell-by date. They have conveniently forgotten that in a democracy, the rakyat is the boss and not the other way round.

For a good 22 years we were under the iron grip of Dr Mahathir. He destroyed the pillars of a working democracy because as far as he was concerned, they hindered his plans and ambitions. The judiciary, media, election commission, police and every known democratic institution were brought to their knees.

In those days, he could get away with whatever decisions he made as the media were government controlled and any wayward publication can have their permit revoked by the home ministry. However, with the advent of the internet, news can no longer be suppressed and information can literally travel at the speed of light.

I shall not dwell too much on the mal-administration of Dr M as I believe many writers before me have chronicled this rather succinctly. I want to talk about the need for a change of government and it’s benefits of doing so. For 55 years, the only government we know of is BN (the Alliance in the past). They have ruled unchecked and unchallenged for so long that they have become arrogant and corrupt

Daily we hear of mismanagement, leakages to the tunes of hundreds of millions and billions. Government owned publications were given free license to stir racial and religious issues with no action taken. The likes of Ibrahim Ali likewise must have been given a “free to croak” permit for how else do we explain that he is still out there after spewing so much filth and hatred?

Again, I digress. Anyway, a change of government is a “normal” thing in most countries because a political party that is no longer favoured by the people will be discarded. This could be due to unpopular policies, mismanagement or tainted by scandals. The leaders of the losing party will usually give way to new blood. This is to reenergise the party, giving it new direction and vigour. They will go through a soul searching period and perhaps return stronger come the next elections.

It is through this that a healthy democracy works. As I’ve mentioned earlier, UMNO in its present form is incapable of change even if they wanted to. There are too many warlords each with it’s own vested interest and will resist change at any cost. That is why they must lose in the general elections in order for the purging of inept and corrupt leaders at all levels to happen. Being in the wilderness will allow a paradigm shift in the party and hopefully emerge a new generation of leaders with character, convictions and beliefs in serving the people.

I can tell you from experience what happens when a party like UMNO is in power for too long. If one were to sit at most 5 star hotel lobbies in KL and observe, after a while one would be able to see an Umno leader with his coterie of followers “lepaking” around whiling the time away. There would be an occasional phone call made to complete a business deal or negotiating for commission in a particular project which was handed out through connections.

You will also overhear an aide listing out the programme for the day to his boss. It goes something like this. “Boss, kontrak sudah sign, kita makan dulu, lepas makan, pergi kelab main golf, lepas golf, makan. Lepas makan, kita pergi enjoy.” Mind you, this is the daily routine and some even have the audacity to blurt out how tiring it is with all this wheeling and dealing! As if rentseeking is real work! This would probably be divisional level leaders “eking” out a living.

The same goes for the ministers and deputy ministers but multiply the amounts by many many folds. When not working (assuming they do work), they will be overseas buying up properties with their hard earned salary, their wives will be gracing Paris, London, Milan, New York snapping up the Guccis, Pradas and what have you. And these same ministers have the audacity to lecture the people to tighten their belts in tough economic times!

My friend once bumped into a well known Muslim minister (now retired) at a casino in Perth many years ago. Mind you, the entourage were not mere bystanders, if you know what I mean. I’m sure you have heard of Osu Sukam’s gambling debts in the millions, Musa Aman and Taib Mahmud’s obscene wealth and the list goes on and on.

It is once said that ministers in Malaysia are worth at least RM500 million, deputy ministers RM250 million and so on. Not to be outdone, civil servants have gotten into the act as well and now every level of government from the highest to the lowest reeks of corruption.

Why is this happening? The reason is because if the head is rotten then the rest of the body will follow. And I put it to you that the only sure way to reduce this disease is to change the government. This is not to say that Pakatan Rakyat are all angels but this serves as a warning to all political parties that the rakyat is watching.

We can vote you in, we can vote you out too! Whichever party in power had better be vigilant and be on their toes. The people is sending a clear message that they no longer tolerate corruption, cronyism and nepotism. Three strikes and you are out! Gone are the days when leaders can act with impunity and plunder endlessly.

I hope I have not been too long-winded putting my message across. There are many more issues which I want to talk about such as eradicating race-based parties and moving towards ideology based parties but this will suffice for now.

Please vote wisely, cast your ballots with your head and not with your heart. Our children and children’s future is at stake. Malaysia is a beautiful country blessed with abundance of natural resources, stunning scenery, friendly people and lovely food. Let us not go the way of Zimbabwe!


* This article first appeared in Free Malaysia Today

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *