COMMENT | Emergency puts democracy into an induced coma

Steve Oh


COMMENT | Emergency may mean different things to different people but one thing is certain - a nation under an 'emergency' requires emergency attention, just like a sick or injured person requires exigent medical aid.

Malaysia is under an emergency but many think not for the reason given by the government.

The Perikatan Nasional (PN) Emergency, spelt with a capital 'E', is only a pretext, they claim. Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin is afraid to meet his Waterloo if snap polls happen now, the critics argue.

After all, no other country in the world with more serious Covid-19 cases have suspended their parliament. The effect is to put democracy in a coma.

At such a time, a country needs all its elected brains, good or bad, to be working hard to resolve a national and global crisis, not keep many members of the government and opposition in parliamentary suspended animation.

Declaring a state of emergency is not a help but hindrance because it adds further uncertainty to an already confusing situation. The government has all the power it needs to get on with the job of fighting Covid-19 without emergency powers. It has done it before. Administering and living under an emergency only makes it harder for everyone.

Whatever the much-criticised pretext, one cannot overlook the real emergency, separate from Covid-19 and detracted by it. That reality of a failing nation extends beyond a defeatable Covid-19 virus. The intangible and indefatigable 'viruses' infecting the nation pose a more lasting threat to the country.

For this reason, I opine the real emergency is not only about Covid-19 and its mismanagement as one politician wrote. It is about the mismanagement of the country as a whole.

Today social media is not bereft of irate articles mostly written by Malays who are fed up with their politicians who have hijacked, betrayed and shamed their race and religion and cheated the nation. They are called names I will not repeat here.

Besides the political shortcomings, a video of former head of Institute of Islamic Understanding Malaysia (Ikim) Syed Ali Tawfik Al-Attas titled ‘The road to hell is paved with good intentions’ critiques the malaise in the Malay-Muslim world.

Former head of Institute of Islamic Understanding Malaysia (Ikim) Syed Ali Tawfik Al-Attas.png

Reform is the urgent need of the hour he reckons, albeit his exposition of life after death in the grave must be frightening for Muslims.

Perhaps the ‘road to hell is paved with bad intentions’ is a more apt title, but the writer is a gentleman and practitioner of diplomacy.

Still, it has not deterred the corrupt who carry on as if there is no tomorrow and persist in their dark-hearted ways that Syed warns against. So religion, according to him, is another casualty of the state-sponsored mismanagement.

Lack of competence

The recent halal certification scandal emphasises the peril of false religiosity Malaysians are subjected to as Syed lamented.

An endemic, even a pandemic, is no reason to disable a country's democracy, unless there is utter chaos and risk of civil unrest. Emergency is an unhelpful distraction and ineffective when breaches of the movement control order (MCO) are still happening, as people observe in various places.

The Covid-19 pandemic is incidental. The other viral problems of a political nature are chronic, some systemic, others ideological, resulting in a nation facing many diverse problems and an unguaranteed future.

The problems persist unresolved not for lack of competence but on purpose and due to the absence of a clean, efficient, trustworthy, just and caring administration. There simply is no safety mechanism for the people when those in power resort to unfair, unconstitutional and even dirty politics.

The pandemic will come and go, but unless there is radical reform the nation will suffer the long-lasting ill-effects of a corrupt system exploited by undesirable, untrustworthy and unprincipled leaders.

All that talk of a high-income nation is just talk. Wawasan 2020 was another time-proven Dr Mahathir Mohamad pipe dream. Sadly for Malaysia this twice and two-timing former country leader has not lost his penchant for making false promises. But voters twice bitten are now twice more sly than the wolf who tricked them.

As I write, I received an appeal to help feed 3,000 blind Malaysians unable to work because of the lockdown. A Malaysiakini report places the figure at 5,000. That's the tip of the iceberg of emergency hardships and suffering in the country. Will the government offer emergency aid to them and multitudes of Malaysians in desperate need?

Various NGOs and religious groups work in overdrive to help them. This is the Malaysian spirit that will defeat the 'viruses of hate'.

Covid-19 may not be man-made but the human-caused 'nation-destroying viruses' are politically manufactured and far more pernicious, more pervasive and more problematic. How do you vaccinate against abuse, corruption and moral failure in a seriously flawed government led by questionable politicians?

We thought GE14 produced the cure only to realise it was a dud. But if you don't succeed, try again and again until you attain the people's aspiration for decent governance. Never give up.

The cure is eviction

Political change is not a game for faint hearts. It is a challenge for the desperate weighed down by their politicians' corruption. If you give up striving for good governance, then resign yourself to live in a flawed and failed state. And prepare to suffer.

It is time for like-minded Malaysians from all backgrounds to unite in a momentous and opportune time in their history to evict the political overstayers, the criminal plunderers, the religious phonies, the megalomaniacs and proven real enemies of their nation.

The danger of vote-splitting in GE15 is real. The reform movers who want to replace the incumbent politicians in Putrajaya have to rise above personal ambitions and party politics to adopt a common strategy of success. If there is a will, there is a way.

Voters must not let the politically virulent viruses of racism, religious extremism and corruption infect the system and fool them. Strengthen the antibodies of checks and balances. Hence the importance of a functioning democracy.

And if the system is infected, rid it with the cure - eviction. Call and vote out the virus-spreading politicians.

Don't vote in known corrupt politicians and determine to vote them out of office when they are found to be corrupt. Only the voters can administer the crucial electoral vaccine before GE15 because the incumbent government won't let the other politicians call for a snap election. Emergency is the anticipated pre-emptive strike, people already know.

Even before the Sheraton coup, the government was in a state of flux. Public confidence in the government is now at its lowest ebb in recent times. While the Covid-19 is like a passing tempest, albeit leaving a lingering unseen viral haze, racism, religious zealotry, corruption, neglect of the hardcore needy are troubling chronic foul winds bearing infestations.

The nation urgently needs emergency treatment, period. Whether Muhyiddin has the gumption to make radical changes is a moot point. Without reform, Malaysia will sink. Muhyiddin needs to dig deep but how when he is sitting on top of a political sinkhole? His arms and legs are tied politically. The emergency merely postpones the day of reckoning for him and others.

The menace of Covid-19 is evident and so too the social and moral meltdowns caused by the failure of corrupt and callous politicians and dishonest citizens as their cohorts.

The criminals in politics are still active and pose a threat to the rule of law and possess not only bucketloads of money but the temerity to tell the government what to do. The country faces a bleak future if it does not mend its errant ways and lock up convicted crooks.

The vaccine against bad management is 'DVIKON' - the acronym for 'Don't Vote In, Kick Out Now - the black sheep of politics. And black-hearted politicians will face a divine backlash more terrifying than losing office.

STEVE OH is an author and composer of the novel and musical 'Tiger King of the Golden Jungle'. He believes good governance and an engaging civil society are paramount to Malaysia being a unique and successful nation.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.