Malaysiakini Letter

Malaysians must change, not just the gov't

TK Chua
Published:  |  Modified:

It is common to blame politicians for causing disunity among a country’s people. They “divide and rule” us, so to speak.

But have we ever asked why Malaysians are so easily divided and exploited?

Malaysians must first ask why politicians and political parties have repeatedly used race, religion and economic insecurity as baits and with much success. Are Malaysians ignorant, insular, chauvinistic, insecure and fanatical to begin with? Otherwise, how is it possible for us to be so easily hoodwinked and diverted?

We heard about 1MDB, Tun Razak Exchange, Bandar Malaysia, East Coast Rail Line (ECRL), the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR), numerous “gateways”, cities on man-made islands, investment in Mongolia and Virgin Islands, massive borrowing and loans, but somehow we could not relate all this to our plights in poor housing, flash floods, roads full of potholes, water supplies disruptions, deplorable public hygiene, poor-quality potable water, expensive medicine, reduced overseas scholarships and massive budget cuts for universities.

Have we ever asked what the primary function of the government is – a mega-developer, an international dealmaker, a service provider or a benefactor of the common people?

Many of us received BR1M handouts, and government servants and pensioners may soon get another round of bonus payments. Many government consultants and contractors will continue receiving lucrative fees and payments. Members of administrations, senior government officials and MPs will continue getting their above average salary and perks including official cars, housing allowance, free petrol and approved permits to buy luxurious marques.

Did we ever ask how all this has been paid for? Have we ever asked why are we are so burdened with GST, subsidies cut, low wages, high tolls, depreciating ringgit and escalating prices?

Many of us are “religious”. We listen and follow our religious leaders diligently, sometimes mesmerised by their ever-eloquent sermons and decrees.

But have we ever asked whether any of these leaders is able to put food on our table, to secure us a better paying job, or make us more socially and economically mobile. More than that, have we ever heard them telling us to be more compassionate, harmonious, and sensitive to the needs of others? When are we going to wise up to critically appraise the rhetoric dumped down our throats.

We are also constantly told to be conscious of our race - the Malays must maintain political power, the Chinese economic clout and the Indians whatever they still own. This is the only assurance of “our future” against the onslaught of “other races”.

But have we ever looked around to see the real beneficiaries of any race-based policy? Trust me, it is not race per se; it is always the well-connected within your race working, colluding and conspiring with the well-connected of other races.

Is Jho Low a Malay-Muslim? Are Goldman Sachs and all the convicted bankers in Singapore Malays-Muslims?

Crony capitalism, an economic system characterised by close, mutually advantageous relationships between business leaders and government officials, is by definition is not race-based.

I think Malaysians must change. We must be more aware of the ongoing baloney and be more assertive of our demands for priority and good governance. Chauvinism, racism and bigotry will not get us anywhere. They are red herrings that divert our attention. Seriously, our wellbeing does not depend on them.

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