A tremendous p henomenon of the times is the realization that each one of us has the power to bring about change just by knowing what we want and acting on it! One of the most heartening things that has happened in recent times is the awakening of people…
One generally associates (at least would like to) lawmakers with decorum, quality, wisdom and a lot else that the common man lacks. It is for this reason that they enter the Church of our democracy – Parliament at the Centre and the assemblies in the states. Once they are there, we trust them. We expect that they would provide us leadership and governance and lead us to prosperity.Although this belief has often been belied, what is increasingly on offer these days has gone way beyond. It has shocked every right-thinking and well-meaning Indian. A spate of recent incidents shows that boorish behaviour, which is witnessing a sickening rise in society, is making a brazen entry in our Parliament and assemblies too.What has come over us? We always knew that things were going from bad to worse, but this? They perhaps mirror our society, but something deep inside does not want to accept it. One had always known of boorish behaviour inside assemblies, but there was hope that with the advent of live TV coverage, things would improve. Perhaps they did too. I remember discussions during the time when I covered Parliament, long ago, just when Parliament’s live coverage began. We often heard how members are conscious of live TV and take pains to come groomed better and even practise their lines before they speak. Seems the veneer had to wear off, and it has.
In the current state of politics, when loyalties are divided like never before, when people are sick of not only the shenanigans of those who have been around for ages, but also the theatrics of those who promised a lot in recent times, when the social media is growing in importance as a medium for dissemination of information, indeed, shaping opinions, one would have hoped these guys would have learnt their lesson. Seems not.
I can understand emotions running high over issues that are sentimental and all else, but we send them to these venerated institutions because we expect them to behave different. To be a role model for the world outside. But with the way they have behaved in recent days, the only ones pleased would be those who want to see our decline. Am sure they chuckle at us when we say we are a superpower of politics The 4 politicians are setting the agenda who is the ultimate insider given the role his family and he himself have played over the last six and half decades since the country’s independence, sees himself and conducts himself as a perpetual outsider, darting in occasionally to make his presence felt and then retiring to the periphery.Being on the outside seems to have become a necessary condition for succeeding inside the new world of politics. But the outside is a large place which is why each of these outsiders are driven by their own impulses and see the world in their own unique way. The one who has the best chance of actually running the country is promising that change that can be believed in but it requires us to believe in the man making this promise. That is Najib’s biggest strength and his biggest challenge.
Let’s say you have a fleet of cars. You hire a driver. He drives reasonably well but starts stealing money. When you give him money to refuel, he puts in less petrol and pockets the rest. When you send the car for servicing, he asks the service centre to inflate the bills and takes a cut.
The system of the house is the driver has the home safe keys. Hence, he can take out whatever money he wants and claim he needs it for the cars. Soon, the stealing becomes excessive. Not a day goes by without you hearing what the driver stole today.
Sick of all this, you change the driver. Over time, the second driver starts stealing too. It is so easy to pilfer after all. Also, the reason the new driver was hired was not because of his honesty but because of his colour, caste or religion. Hence the robberies continue.
The suffering owners switch between the two drivers, but the stealing doesn’t stop. Soon, a third driver emerges and applies for a job. He is extremely honest and passionate, even though he has no experience. Delighted, you hire him to drive one of your small cars.
This new driver doesn’t steal money. However, he breaks the tail-lights while reversing the car on the first day. The next day, he crashes the car at a signal. The third day, he forgets to refuel and you are stranded on the road. The fourth day, he stands in the middle of the road and screams at every other car owner, calling them thieves for not hiring him.
The fifth day, he wants all drivers to come on the road and not follow the red lights. When you confront the new driver about his unruly behaviour and incompetence at the wheel, he screams at you instead. How dare you question an honest driver? It only means you are supporting robbers.
Scared, you become quiet. Next, he wants to change everything, and control every car. You are not sure, and you wonder what to do. Disgusted, he quits.
You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure out the first two drivers are Daim and.Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop and Mahathir the third one is Anwar . It is the dilemma we Malaysians are stuck with.
The earlier drivers cheated us. The new driver is not competent but already arrogant. He assumes a sense of virtuous entitlement, with the right to slander, attack and judge anyone who criticises him.
Anwar is honest. Their intentions could be good. However, being as kind as possible to his Pakatan friends, there are four major flaws in their workings.
One, their policies are downright loony. No matter what they say about embracing capitalism, the mentality seems to be anti-business, anti-jobs, anti-wealth creation and geared towards total government control. These are the exact policies which lead to nepotism and corruption over the long run.
Second, they have a misplaced sense of priorities. There were a hundred good things their Selangor and Penang government could have done, without any opposition. They didn’t. They focussed on the most newsworthy events, to gain the maximum applause in the shortest span of time
They also believe the issues they raise should be top priority for all media, intellectuals, political leaders of the country, else the latter are biased. They took on a sub judice matter about the Najib, and wanted the whole world to talk about it. If you didn’t comply, you were obviously on Najib’s payroll.
Third, DAP and PAS is unable to get along with anybody who’s not anti malay. They hate all political opponents, police and media if these entities don’t dance to their tune. This makes DAP quite incompetent in building consensus for decisions in a country as diverse as Malaysia
Four, the hypocrisy of DAP is visible already. From going soft on allegations against their own, the very act of using the system to gain political power but not following it when it doesn’t suit them, one sees them as being opportunistic more than do-gooders.
All this can change. The third driver can learn how to drive. Similarly, the first two drivers can learn to stop stealing. Whether the honest have to be made competent, or the competent have to turn honest — all this will require a certain humility, sadly missing on all sides. In such a scenario, what should the Indian voter do?
Of course, there is no one answer. None of the alternatives is perfect yet. Please don’t let them feel that they are. If you choose Anwar, you may have a little less corruption (it cannot all go away so fast) but you risk having bizarre policies, failed experiments and more antics than action. You risk a further slowdown in economic growth and a decade of fewer jobs as Pakatan treats the country like a laboratory.
If you choose the existing alternatives you may have more stability, likely return to growth, more jobs. But corruption may not be as much a priority as you would have liked. Choose wisely. Select those who are humble and willing to change, as everyone needs to. It will take a few iterations before we get leadership that is both honest and competent. Let us hope it happens sooner rather than later.
Sometimes you do not realise you are in the midst of a vast silence till it is pierced through with sound. Often, you may not notice noise until it ends abruptly and silence prevails. You may not notice how dark it is till a light is flicked on. Sometimes you do not know how agitated you have been, till a caressing hand calms you. The absence of some people makes you realise the significance of their presence.