Please stay the course, PH!


THE Pakatan Harapan government is still grappling with issues real and imaginary a year after coming to power. So much has been said about the performance of the present government.

Even the Prime Minister did not give high marks to his Cabinet members. Tun Dr Mahathir Moha­mad knew what people expected from his government – short of performing miracles.

Dr Mahathir is aware that his Cabinet colleagues are a mixed bag of disparate individuals – from the brightest and the most ambitious to the weakest and the clueless.

The most famous critic of his Cabinet is none other than his media and communication adviser, the ever vigilant and critical Datuk Kadir Jasin.

To say his postings occasionally send shock waves along the corridors of power is an understatement. His writings reverberate beyond the offices of the men and women entrusted to run the nation.

Let Kadir be the conscience of the government. He speaks his heart and that is Kadir. The veteran newsman, who honed his skill as one of the most revered and hated columnists (sometimes in the same breath), is not showing any sign of slowing down. He calls a spade a spade.

To be fair to Kadir, in most cases he is not far from wrong.

People are scrutinising the pre­sent crop of politicians with a magnifying glass. They were the ones who have perfected the art of criticising the previous government. It is easy to criticise and condemn but it is not easy to put forth workable policies for the rakyat.

People want results, tangible ones. Kadir opined that a year is too long for anyone to learn the ropes. He was blunt – resign if you are not up to the mark.

There is a limit to the blame game. The success of the “Apa Malu Bossku” campaign by the former prime minister proves how easy sentiments can be swayed to a different direction.

The perception out there is the bread and butter issues have yet to be resolved. The cost of living is unbearably high for the lower-income group. The prices of essential goods have not gone down.

There is no GST to blame. The economy is not in the best of health. Companies are shedding workers. Unemployment, especially among graduates, is worrying.

Many of the campaign promises have yet to be fulfilled.

Take the case of the problematic National Higher Educa­tion Fund Corporation (PTPTN). The confusion is palpable. There have been conflicting statements from those in charge. Unrealistic campaign pro­mises are suffocating PTPTN.

The least that can be done is for PTPTN to think of a new business mo­­del in order to sustain itself. De­­faulters are taking the organisation for a ride.

Unlike a bank, for every ringgit PTPTN gives out, at best it can get back 63 sen.

Out there politics is murkier than ever with the racial and religious cards being played unashamedly. The country is more divided than ever before.

The clarion call that Islam is under threat makes a lot of sense to most people out there. The accusation that the bumiputra agenda is being eroded is real too. And the best excuse is that the government ditunggangi (literally, taken for a ride) by DAP leaders with their sinister motives to harm Malay and Muslim interests.

The Umno-PAS kerjasama (coope­ration) is something to be taken seriously.

Never underestimate the menace of gullibility. People believe what they want to believe. The voice to save Bangsa Melayu (the Malay race) and Islam is at its highest pitch ever. It is hard to ignore those voi­ces. Social media, the tool utilised to the maximum by the current lea­ders and supporters when they were on the other side is now a weapon of mass destruction used effectively and relentlessly by their enemies. Suddenly, they are on the defensive now.

There are even rumblings from within the ranks, is it worth it to stay the current course? With the people’s faith in them slowly ero­ding, economic uncertainties a formidable challenge, and who will be the next prime minister still hotly debated, Pakatan is in for a painful second year. But the truth is, what choice does it have? The ways of old have proven disastrous. Most people want to move on. They are willing to support Pakatan.

Pakatan, after all, is promising a hope for a better Malaysia. The people voted them in for that. They didn’t expect Pakatan to solve all the woes of the nation in one year.

People want changes as pro­mised.

It is not easy to stay the course. There is no quick-fix solution to the systems already desecrated for decades. Pakatan leaders had the right formula to win an election, now it is incumbent on them to prove that the same formula can sustain them, and more importantly, win them the next election. Four years is not a distant future.

Johan Jaaffar was a journalist, editor and for some years chairman of a media company, and is passionate about all things literature and the arts. The views expressed here are entirely his own.

The Bowerbird Writes…