WE usually start the year with the traditional well wishes and hopes. As Malaysians usher in 2022, we have busied ourselves on New Year’s Eve by sending out such messages.
I am an optimist and have no fear of taking on difficult situations. But this time around, I feel uncertain and unsure.
The past two years have been tough ones not just for Malaysians, but the entire world, too. I have lost good friends who succumbed to the dreadful Covid-19, and those who survived but were badly affected, are still struggling to regain their health.
Many lost their jobs in 2021, and those who retained employment invariably had their salaries cut and are still waiting for their docked pay to be reinstated.
Our lives have all been made more difficult by the unnecessary and excessive politicking in Malaysia, but at least in 2021, the competing factions agreed to end their disagreements, even if just momentarily.
We have a Prime Minister who has succeeded in drawing both sides onto the same page to keep the government intact and to pass the Budget.
He has come under fire from a demanding electorate, rightly or wrongly. But imagine the dire consequences if Parliament remains at loggerheads without enough numbers to push through the Bills.
The results of the Melaka and Sarawak state elections have also proven that Malaysians have had enough of politics and want a government that’s not held at ransom by smaller parties.
This is precisely what has happened to the Federal Government. It’s a government cobbled together by partners who have no love for each other but share the common interest of holding power.
Umno and Bersatu are forced to live together like an estranged couple, with their open bickering for all to see, as evident in Dewan Rakyat.
And then there is PAS. Despite having only 18 Members of Parliament in the 222-seat Dewan Rakyat, it seems to enjoy many ministerial positions, not to mention deputies.
PAS has become a member of an awkward family, which the couple is stuck with and can’t get rid of. Clearly, it’s a thorn in the side.
In other words, the present Federal Government is like a dysfunctional household.
The rest of us are supposed to feel blessed, blissful and thankful that the family is still functional. And we must also put up with a few relatives who are clearly incompetent.
PAS has cleverly continued to play the race and religion cards, desperately holding on to the legs of the contentious parents and pleading with them to stay on, even though a divorce is imminent.
But PAS has become so intoxicated with the perks and power that they just want the status quo to continue for the full term while we are forced to suffer and endure their glaring ineptitude.
So, as we usher in the New Year, Malaysians are holding their breath and praying that the leadership will be able to reinstate trust and confidence in all of us.
Malaysians are not asking for more. We need hope. A country and its people must have hope. Leaders, if our politicians can act like that, need to inspire and lead the country.
We don’t need grandstanding campaigns with hollow messages which don’t motivate Malaysians, even though the politicians involved may think otherwise.
The size of the participation at such launches really means nothing. In this time of the pandemic, it’s even worse and ill-thought of to get people together for such theatrical ego-inflating exercises.
Finally, if 2021 had to end with the woeful display of politicians in yellow boots, water-jet spray, animal droppings, VVIP convoys with imposing police outriders and poor disaster management, we can only put our hands together and ask for mercy – from the fumbling MPs.
For 2022, let there be no curry mee reviews, and we hope what happened previously was just an unending nightmare.
And let’s keep our fingers crossed that there will be no more unconvincing press statements from the various agencies to justify the inadequacies of their ministers.
Malaysia needs leaders who can always command, cope with difficulties, show spirit and resilience, and display their true mettle.
We’re asking for real leadership that understands and accepts that this country belongs to Malaysians of all races and religions.
There is a trust and confidence deficit now. So, less talk and more work, that’s all we ask for.
I wish all readers a Happy New Year, and hope that we will truly remain happy for the next 12 months.
Wong Chun Wai began his career as a journalist in Penang, and has served The Star for over 35 years in various capacities and roles. He is now group editorial and corporate affairs adviser to the group, after having served as group managing director/chief executive officer. On The Beat made its debut on Feb 23 1997 and Chun Wai has penned the column weekly without a break, except for the occasional press holiday when the paper was not published. In May 2011, a compilation of selected articles of On The Beat was published as a book and launched in conjunction with his 50th birthday. Chun Wai also comments on current issues in The Star.