Here is a Look East ‘lesson’ the government should avoid at all cost.
I AM surprised that anyone is surprised that Pakatan Harapan lost so badly in the Tanjung Piai by-election.
Even from my distant perch in Petaling Jaya, without visiting the Johor parliamentary constituency, I knew Barisan Nasional would win the moment they announced their candidate.
Datuk Seri Wee Jeck Seng was a popular two-term MP with a strong track record who lost by a mere 524 votes to the late Dr Md Farid Md Rafik in GE14.
Wee was beaten by a self-confessed political novice because he was caught in the tsunamic uproar against Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his arrogant cohorts.
The untimely death of Dr Farid provided Wee with a second chance and the timing was just right for him to create his own tsunami against the Bersatu candidate and Pakatan itself with a landslide win.
Numerous political commentators and analysts have explained that the voters wanted to teach Pakatan a lesson.
I am at least glad that Tanjung Piai voters had a worthy candidate in Wee to do so and not make do with some undeserving half-wit to send the message.
Truly, Pakatan has no one but themselves to blame for the humiliation. Enough of us citizens were convinced by Pakatan to vote for change on May 9,2018.
We spontaneously coined the euphoric term, Malaysia Baru, as we thought with the change in government, there too would be a change in how Pakatan would administer this nation.
Our euphoria and hope have largely dried out in just one and a half years after May 9 because the now not-so-new leaders in power sound and act a lot like the previous ones who got booted out.
Race and religion are still the favourite tools of many politicians on both sides of the political divide.
As I have said before, Malaysia Baru was the longed for dream of non-Malay citizens.
The 20% of Malays who voted against Barisan merely wanted to get rid of Najib, nothing more.
The few who actually want change to see a fairer, more equitable, secular nation like Siti Kassim, Zaid Ibrahim, Mariam Mokhtar, Tawfik Tun Dr Ismail, Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa, Zainah Anwar and Prof Dr Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi and dare to speak out are largely rejected and demonised by their community as sellouts and traitors to their race and religion.
And so devious politicians quickly pounced on that mindset and spooked the community into believing that by voting out Umno, they had unwittingly let in the fox into the chicken coop.
The fox is, of course, DAP and non-Malays.
Buoyed by that initial wave of support and goodwill, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad could do the unthinkable and appoint several non-Malays to key positions which were previously off-limits to them.
And so Lim Guan Eng became Finance Minister and Tommy Thomas got the Attorney General’s post and the reason given was that they were appointed based on merit.
But the attacks against them, to remove them, have never stopped.
It is always the same old foxy chant: Malay rights, security and Islam are in danger of being stolen from right under their noses by non-Malays if the community is not careful.
Sadly, the present government has done very little if anything to counter such old tired chestnuts which have conked the heads of generations of Malays into fear and loathing for the non-Malays, particularly the Chinese.
Rather, it preferred to show Pakatan is as good as Barisan as a pro-Malay and Islamic government by defending controversial Indian preacher Zakir Naik, maintaining the pre-matriculation programme quotas and introducing the jawi script to primary schoolchildren.
But from how Tanjung Piai Malay citizens voted, these efforts didn’t move them after all.
The truth is after stupidly abolishing GST instead of improving on it, in the months Pakatan has been in power, it has done very little to really better the lives of ordinary citizens. You can keep blaming Barisan for all the ills and mismanagement but for only so long.
As for the Chinese, their disappointment and anger were further fuelled by the decision to cut the federal funding to Tunku Abdul Rahman University College (TAR UC).
Lim’s justification is hard to swallow.
He said he would give back the RM30mil annual grant the moment MCA relinquished control of TAR UC because the government doesn’t give funds to other privately-owned educational institutions.
Lim also reiterated that the government had no interest or intention of taking over TAR UC.
This is what puzzles me: if not the government, then who does MCA sell TAR UC to?
If they sell it to private investors, then its status will be no different from say SEGi or KDU colleges which do not qualify for government grants, as stated by Lim.
So who’s to run TAR UC if MCA gives up its stake in it just so to get the RM30mil?
And let’s be fair here: MCA has been very honourable in how it has run TAR UC as well as Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman. These institutions have benefited thousands of Malaysians of all races.
That’s why there is now growing support for fundraising activities for TAR UC led by ordinary Malaysian Chinese.
The whole political situation has been made worse by the ugly infighting within Pakatan factions and nagging doubts and uncertainty of a smooth succession handover.
Interestingly, we were warned how the Pakatan cookie could crumble by a foreign resident living in Kuala Lumpur.
On May 25,2018, just days after GE14, The Star published a letter from Tsumugi Hashimoto.
He wrote about a “coalition (that) ruled the country for decades. No one expected it to be defeated. When people first saw the stunning result, almost everyone was at a loss for a while. Then they realised it was the beginning of a new era. I am not writing about Malaysia. I am writing about my own country.”
Tsumugi was referring to how in 2009 Japan’s Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) defeated the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) which had been in power since 1955: “When I was young, it seemed the LDP would reign forever but then DPJ won the election with a super majority. I believed my country had finally got a two-party system and that DPJ would introduce some measures which LDP had ignored for a long time, such as an effective child allowance system and an open immigration policy. Not only I but also all the people hoped that those measures would spur Japan’s sluggish economy.
“Sadly speaking, this was a delusion. What we saw after the election were endless internal fights within DPJ. Our elected representatives immediately engaged in internal fights again and again.”
Tsumugi’s next words are ominous: “Many Japanese people felt betrayed and as a result, DPJ lost terribly in the next general election. DPJ doesn’t even exist now. The party dissolved like sugar in water, and so did our hope for a brighter future, the two-party system and a more democratic policy process.
“LDP is back on the stage now and it looks set to reign forever again. I feel like my country will never change the government even if the ruling coalition is extremely corrupt.”
In his appeal to Malaysians to not make the mistakes his country did, Tsumugi wrote: “I hope your politicians will maintain order and cohesion and help each other to serve the rakyat. If they start internal fights due to selfishness like the politicians in my country did, you should stand up and tell them that unity is crucial to building a better future.”
Malaysians in Tanjung Piai came together to do just that.
Now the ball is back in Pakatan’s court. Will it harden into rock sugar or dissolve completely?
It only has a few short years to decide.
Or rather for the rakyat to decide.
The views expressed here are entirely the writer’s own.
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