Side Views

The last mile — Liew Chin Tong

JULY 2 — Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was today slapped with an additional charge in addition to two existing ones over the April 28 Bersih rally.

Fifteen years ago today, on July 2, 1997, the Thai government was forced to float the Thai baht after failing to defend it from attacks, sparking an unprecedented Asian-wide crisis. Contagious free falls in Asian currencies led to economic meltdowns and political crises subsequently.

Hence the start of the Malaysian epic tragedy of political and economic stagnation. It was the beginning of the end of sort for Barisan Nasional’s political monopoly. It exposed Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s emperor-with-no-clothes game.

After a painfully long 15 years, Malaysia is now a nation in waiting for change. And, we are walking the last mile of a long, tedious journey.

Chow Kon Yeow, MP for Tanjong, has called Anwar a “bakal perdana menteri” (future prime minister) in an interview with a Penang-based Chinese newspaper recently, to which Anwar half-jokingly replied that he has had that title for the last two decades.

When the Thai baht was floated, Anwar was acting prime minister, supposedly to succeed Dr Mahathir soon after. Instead Anwar was sacked, detained, beaten to near death in custody by the then national police chief in September 1998 and imprisoned, only to be released six years later in September 2004.

For the past 15 years, instead of being accorded a level playing field to vie for national leadership, much of Anwar’s time was wasted in prison cells and court rooms for charges that would never be levelled at a political opponent in a genuine democracy.

But this is not just about Anwar. This is about all of us. I was just 20 when the worst-ever haze clouded the Malaysian skies in July 1997. The haze still troubles us 15 years later, similar to that of our political stalemate.

To say our economy has stagnated is an understatement. And, we know the human cost of an economy which does not unleash its full potential. We know the effect to society when government fails to distribute fairly.

Whether the general election is called within this year or by April next year, it does not matter anymore.

The month of June has come and gone. We, the people, can declare a victory of sort because our resolve for change has scared Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak from calling the much-touted June election.

The next general election is not just about the conclusion of the tumultuous post-2008 years or a platform for Najib to look for political legitimacy. The 13th general election is the one that we bid farewell to Malaysia’s ancien régime.

Not only Pakatan Rakyat, representing the voice of the majority, must win the next general election and consign Barisan Nasional to the opposition, we must win with a convincing majority.

Not only do we want to reclaim our nation from cronies, pirates, thieves, racists and gangsters, we must go beyond just tweaking the current opaque system.

The last decade-and-a-half was a sad episode in our history. It is our collective onus to update the nation’s visions with new mindsets, paradigms and frameworks that will shape the lives of millions of Malaysians for the better.

This is our historic opportunity to do the right things, together, in the last mile of a long walk that began 15 years ago. — The Rocket

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.

 

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