After all that has transpired over the past 16 months since Pakatan Harapan swept into power, Charles Santiago said like everyone else, he too, tinkered with a tiny flash of hope.
However, the DAP lawmaker lamented that Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad had dashed this with his remarks that there is no room for PKR president Anwar Ibrahim in the cabinet.
Describing Mahathir's explanation for this as ridiculous, Charles said: “The premier's words only goes to show that we are more focused on holding on to power rather than nation-building.”
“I am privy to the whispers on the ground. People are now willing to give Anwar a chance, fearing Mahathir is back to his old tricks,” he added in his Merdeka message this afternoon.
The Klang MP said after Harapan won the national polls, he was confident his observations in the run-up to Merdeka, year after year, would be positive.
“I envisioned writing about a government that kept its electoral promises, was people-friendly, focused on nipping the cost of living, worked at actually increasing minimum wages, revamped the country's education system, promote inclusivity and the list doesn’t stop here.
“After all, many of the former opposition leaders, who currently make up the cabinet membership and were elected to parliament, risked everything to speak truth to power.
“But on the eve of Independence Day, I realise how naive this thinking was. Today, we are not the champions of the people. In fact, people are livid and feel betrayed.
“And if another general election is called now, chances are we will lose Putrajaya,” he added.
Celebrate people's power this Merdeka
Recalling the euphoria of the people on May 9, 2018, after the fall of the BN government, Charles said the current sentiment among the people is having swapped a corrupt regime with an authoritarian government.
“Mahathir is adamant about a national car while Entrepreneur Development Minister Mohd Redzuan Yusof, is focused on a flying car project.
“A total of RM980, according to the government, doesn't reflect poverty although this means a family of four will have RM8 to spend a day.
“And we wonder why the people, who voted us into power, wouldn’t feel cheated,” he added.
Despite his bleak assessment and Mahathir having dashed his hope, Charles said this is still not the time for despair or to give up on a fledging government regardless of the anger and frustration.
“It's a time to help shape the new government in the interests of its people. We have a collective responsibility in helping the Harapan government to wake up.
“We can all take pride in the fact that we haven’t given up and won’t stop trying to make Malaysia a better place for everyone.
“Let's stand up and be counted. This Merdeka, let's stand up for Malaysia and raise voices against bad governance and poorly thought out policies,” he added.
Come tomorrow, Charles said when the nation marks its 62nd Merdeka, Malaysians must celebrate the fact that the power is in the hands of the people.
“And that they are free to make choices and decisions that will benefit themselves, their future generations and the country. Even if it means giving Harapan the red card at the next polls,” he added.