Shape up or get shipped out

Amateur production: Netizens are mocking the poor script and production values of the sex tape, including the choice of getting Haziq to sit in a fancy wingtip armchair, like he is trying to wish the rakyat ‘Selamat Hari Raya’.

COULD the allegations made against Economic Affairs Minister Mohamed Azmin Ali be one of those turning points in Malaysian politics? While for two days my friends and I were in the depths of despair that the new Malaysia we longed for is fast

sinking into the gutter politics of old, I am heartened by the responses from both sides of the divide.

That those who matter seem determined to nip in the bud this filthy method of killing political enemies implies hope that some lessons have been learnt. The message seems clear that Malaysia does not want to go down the same path that tore this country apart with the sacking of Anwar Ibrahim in 1998.

The youngest minister in the cabinet, Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, set the tone, stating that Malaysia deserves better. Politics should be about making lives better, not destroying lives.

Khairy Jamaluddin reminded the public of the trauma to the nation caused by slanders of the past. He urged the public to look away.

The Umno acting President, Mohamad Hassan, told party leaders, members and supporters not to get involved in such efforts to tarnish a politician’s character.

PKR President Anwar Ibrahim, who paid a highest price over such allegations, called the sex videotapes deplorable and sickening.

And Azmin Ali, the current target, categorically denied he was the man in the video and called it a “nefarious” plot to destroy his political career.

The Prime Minister dismissed it all as nothing more than “dirty tricks”. So who wants to be in the company of the unsavoury political hack Lokman Noor Adam as he tries to whip up attention to the sex videos? Or in the company of Muhammad Haziq Aziz as he reveals more salacious details and laments the lack of support? Netizens are mocking the poor script and production values of amateurs who know nothing about how gays would actually video gay sex. First of all, faces are never shown or never in focus, it seems. Even the choice to get Haziq to sit in a fancy wingtip armchair is being ridiculed. He looks more like he is trying to wish the rakyat “Selamat Hari Raya”, instead of announcing a sex scandal.

That this round of sordid scandal mongering is not getting public traction, I hope, will drive those still stuck in old politics to see the light. Malaysians do not want to be dragged through muck again to save or destroy political careers.

I hope those politicians who think and care about the future of this country will finally get serious about governing and building a new narrative for a new Malaysia. I’ll say it once again. If this Pakatan Harapan government does not get its act together and deliver on its change agenda, it will see itself back in the opposition at the next elections. Not because Malaysians want to see Barisan Nasional back in power, but because the voters want to punish Pakatan Harapan for betraying their trust and crushing their hopes. It is obvious that the PKR President, his deputy, vice-president Rafizi Ramli and their respective camps need to resolve the rivalry and ensuing distrust and bitterness this has engendered within the party. It is poisonous and venomous and undermines a coalition government that is still trying to find its feet. For us looking on, willing a new Malaysia to emerge, it is exhausting. The opposition is now finally in power, a painful struggle for over 20 years, and yet they are so willing to destroy the gains made and the trust built for personal interest.It is obvious what their priorities should be. This government needs to focus its mind on dealing with the rising cost of living and the fears and uncertainties over economic growth and wealth distribution. It needs to deal with the insecurities and anxieties of the Malays and others in B40, and the worries of the middle class. Where is the urgency needed to build the rakyat’s sense of well-being and confidence in the future? Where are the details of the Prime Minister’s economic vision of a “shared prosperity”?

I am desperate to hear more of the specific plans on how this government plans to provide a “decent standard of living for all Malaysians” by 2030, regardless of economic class, race, and geographic location. It is a promising vision that must go beyond the pursuit of economic growth, into societal well-being, for all.

Where is the roadmap to deliver on the institutional reforms promised? Where is the plan to set two-term limits on the office of the Prime Minister and the Chief Ministers? The repeal of repressive laws? Progress on electoral reform? Reform in the administration of Islam and bringing about a more compassionate Islam that will be a blessing to all?

The rakyat wants to see progress, specific plans in place, timelines set.

The new government is entering its second year now. It needs to mobilise support to build a new vision for a better Malaysia. It needs to engender faith that change is possible and all will benefit from that change towards a shared prosperity and national well-being.

The focus must be on delivery, not sex scandals and political assassinations. Instead of building a new narrative and shepherding the still faltering team to focus on their deliverables, to stay on message to give hope, provide vision, and build clarity and confidence in the country’s direction, some leaders in Pakatan Harapan, to be frank in PKR actually, are focussed on and distracted by infighting. It’s all so tiring.

Before it is all too late, shape up or you will be shipped out.

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