Malaysiakini Yoursay

Yoursay: Harapan, focus on economy and stop dancing to '3R' tune

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YOURSAY | 'A hungry and jobless person is a political devil's haven.'

As support ebbs, how can Harapan turn the tide?

JW: So, we have different views (from these five political observers) and they are pretty good. They nailed down the issues which Pakatan Harapan must do something about if they want to stay relevant and not get kicked out, come GE15.

But where to start? What should the main focus be, to begin with?

It is pointless to do everything at once because the resources and human power are not there yet. Harapan’s leadership is sorely needed on this, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad notwithstanding, for many of his ideas are just taking us back to what he perceived to be the good old days.

I suggest starting with what activist Fadiah Nadwa Fikri has offered - dismantle racial and religious politics, while doing something along the lines suggested by analyst Wong Chin Huat, namely breaking the hold that the Umno-PAS narrative (about Malays and Muslims) has on many Malays.

So far, the Harapan government has failed miserably on the latter. It does not appear to have a concerted plan to counter the Umno-PAS narrative, as evidenced by the pathetic failure of its handling of the ratification of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Icerd), and, to some extent, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

I suspect many in the Harapan government are still influenced by the Umno-PAS narrative on Malays and Muslims, including, to some extent, the prime minister. And many of the younger members in the Harapan government appear clueless about what they should do to counter this Umno-PAS narrative.

It is not that the bread and butter issues are not important. Of course, they are.

But many Malays, I believe, are still entrenched in their thinking by the 60 years of Umno-PAS narrative that the Malays/Muslims have been besieged by the non-Malay "pendatang and ill-bred".

Fairview: As a layperson and not one of those intellectual analysts and commentators, my view is for the government not to succumb to the extreme elements who use race and religion to undermine the government.

Focus on the economy as a priority. When people have jobs, food to eat, a roof over their heads and their children get a good education, they will be more amenable to changes and reforms.

A hungry and jobless person is a political devil’s haven.

David Dass: Fadiah is absolutely correct. End race-based politics. Alter the perception of many Malays that race-based politics is the only way to protect and preserve their interests.

It will not be easy. It will take time. But it must be done.

There are forces bent on keeping the races apart. These are people who exploit racial distrust for personal or political gain.

There are talented non-Malays whose skills and talents can be harnessed for the benefit of the nation. When politics is focused on race, the calibre or quality of individuals is subordinated to race, and individual talent or ability is ignored and lost.

Cogito Ergo Sum: With no money in the coffers, there is little wriggle room for Harapan.

But people do not understand the magnitude of the previous regime’s excesses and the dire state of our finances. This information is not getting down to the grassroots, and Umno has a very efficient propaganda machinery that makes Harapan look like small boys and girls.

Their racist and bigoted rantings are very effective to whip up racial sentiments and a siege mentality. Everything seems to be under threat. And it is working because no serious attempts are being made to counter the preposterous allegations.

TehTarik: Indeed, the problem is that the government is short of cash after decades of kleptocracy and profligacy.

Nearly 60 percent of the budget is used to pay for salaries of civil servants, pensions, debt repayment and subsidies. About 25 percent is for operating costs of the government (hospitals, schools, government-linked companies, the Islamic Development Department, et cetera).

And 16 percent of the budget (RM50 billion) that is meant for development is entirely borrowed. That is why our public debt is nearly 100 percent. Add corporate and household debt, and you get a grand astronomical total debt of 250 percent of the gross domestic product.

We have been living beyond our means on borrowed money. Unfortunately, revenue from oil and gas is rapidly dwindling and some estimate that we will run out of these hydrocarbons over the next decade.

Unless the civil service is drastically trimmed, we are heading for a financial meltdown sometime over the next decade. Harapan just doesn't have the funds to satisfy the handout needs of B40 and lower range of M40 (a total two-thirds of the population) who have zero savings.

If people receive without working, then there must be people who work without receiving.

The Wakandan: The problem, obviously, is with the person of Mahathir. He is too big a figure to be ignored.

Unfortunately, Mahathir is not a pro-reformation person. He is basically an Umno person. This is the problem. He wants Harapan to be a BN 2.0, his brainchild, except without Najib Abdul Razak this time around.

So that is our problem now. He succeeded in overthrowing Najib. His job is done. He has overstayed that purpose. It is time for him to go, otherwise, he will bring Harapan down with him.

The original Harapan script was right - Mahathir’s sole purpose was to help to defeat BN, lead a transition government for about two years and then allow a new crop of reformation leadership to take over.

Unfortunately, he made a false start to negate much of Harapan’s aspirations, which will be difficult to undo later. The damage has been done, though it is not too late.

Harapan should have used the momentum of the GE14 victory to push for the promised reformation and their election pledges. Instead, Mahathir did not do that.

Poor Harapan. It seems Bersatu is just a marriage of convenience with the other Harapan parties.

Fairplayer: My advice - keep to the Malaysian agenda as promised in Harapan’s GE14 manifesto.

Start with the B40 income group. Meet their basic needs. Stop singing and dancing to the “3R” (race, religion, royalty) agenda - it was not on the GE14 plate. It's boring and repulsive.

Do your best to fulfil all your GE14 promises. You have another four years to prove your word. We hope to see good progress in the next 100 days.

The above is a selection of comments posted by Malaysiakini subscribers. Only paying subscribers can post comments. Over the past one year, Malaysiakinians have posted over 100,000 comments. Join the Malaysiakini community and help set the news agenda. Subscribe now.

These comments are compiled to reflect the views of Malaysiakini subscribers on matters of public interest. Malaysiakini does not intend to represent these views as fact.

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