MAY 19 ― Newly-installed Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is now seemingly backtracking on his statement asking people who don’t accept the results of the general elections to leave the country. He is saying that it was his personal opinion and not an official line.
Going forward, anytime Ahmad Zahid makes a statement, he should first qualify as to whether it is personal or official. The public have a right to know. Opposition lawmakers should, in the course of parliamentary sittings, make him state each and every time he opens his mouth as to whether he is speaking in his personal or official capacity.
The government of the day will have to contend with public sentiment, more so in these times than ever before. Trying to threaten those with dissenting views with arrests and crippling dissent by abusing the government machinery will not work any longer. The fact is that that so many Malaysians are disenchanted with the system of governance in the country, with the general election just being a manifestation of the widespread loss of confidence by the public.
The Barisan Nasional thinks that it is their right to expect the public to support them. Statements being made that a certain race had withdrawn support from Barisan Nasional despite all that had been done for that race is the heights of hubris. There is no birthright where it concerns political support. It has to be earned ― time and again.
Political awareness in this country has changed, where people have become more mature. By merely servicing constituencies and ensuring that drains are not clogged will not ensure support during general elections. Such work ought to be left to local municipalities in the main. At the level of Parliament and state assemblies, people now expect proper representation and judgment from their representatives. These concern higher level policy decisions involving a broad swath of matters such as the economy, social issues, national reconstruction, etc.
The war for talent in an economy which is becoming more integrated globally by the day is becoming increasingly intense. Asking people to leave the country because they disagree with the way things are done exhibits the real interest of such people in the overall well-being of the country. It is either their way or no way ― regardless of the consequences faced by the citizenry.
The government of the day should not just preach inclusivity; it should walk its talk. Therein lays the challenge. Sloganeering and jingoism seem to be the focus, and the people can look beyond that. Inclusiveness will necessarily mean that differing views and positions are accepted as part of the system, in the real sense and not based on the convenient definition of the government of the day.
An honest appraisal of the election results will reveal that the urban middle class has lost confidence in the ruling party, with the rural community following suit very quickly. If the ruling party wishes to genuinely get back the people’s support, they should address the unhappiness of the people and then leave it to the people to decide as to which party should rule the country.
A vibrant democracy will only serve the country and her people better. As Winston Churchill once stated in the British Parliament, “Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”
Malaysia is at a place in its political evolution where the people are hungry for change. This has to be recognized and no amount of gerrymandering, manipulation of the mainstream media, and threats will change this. The horse bearing the torch of people demanding change has bolted, and the barn door being closed behind it will be an exercise in futility.
* Callistus Antony D’Angelus reads The Malaysian Insider.
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider