Our problem is not the sharks but the rodents - By Commander (Rtd) S THAYAPARAN Royal Malaysian Navy
Thursday, November 02, 2017
Malaysiakini : “People who don't expect justice don't have to suffer disappointment.” ― Isaac Asimov, ‘The Robots of Dawn’
COMMENT | At the beginning of this year, as reported by Reuters, Mexico’s lower house of Congress was changed to ‘Chamber of Rats’ on Google Maps.
“Pranksters changed the name of Mexico’s lower house of Congress to
the ‘Chamber of Rats’ on Google Maps on Tuesday in the latest dig at the
political class during a testing start to the year for the country’s
government. The lower house, also known as the Chamber of Deputies,
became the ‘Chamber of Rats’, using the Spanish word ‘rata’, which is
also slang for thief in Mexico.”
I found this very amusing not just because as a Malaysian I could
relate to those pranksters who were merely (and correctly) relabelling
the politicians whose corruption was screwing up the country, but also
because as we all know the real problem here in Malaysia is not the sharks
but the rodents. The rodents who infest the system that would carry on
operating even if all the sharks were hunted to extinction.
These rodents are aware that as long as the sharks are there, they
are safe from scrutiny. They understand that with the way the system
works, with its many sacred cows of race and religion, most things are
permissible. The current Umno grand poobah's mistake is not that he is
allegedly corrupt; it is that he disavowed the traditional system and
political personalities that nurtured him.
Mind you, it is never a good thing for democracy – if that means
anything – to tell your political base that you would hunt down your
political opponent if you won the election. The Malaysian Official 1
(MO1) is a legal issue - not a political one - hence, the proper
response should be that you have an independent attorney-general, an
independent judiciary and an independent state security apparatus to
handle the legal issues that MO1 poses.
MPs have bigger fish to fry
The legislative branch of government - the people who are voted in to
bring change - have bigger fish to fry. This is not personal. This is
supposed to be about “saving Malaysia," not “saving Malaysia from Najib
Razak”. This is about saving Malaysia by dismantling a system that could
create another MO1.
Of course, this is assuming that the Umno state relinquishes control
and that the current prime minister chooses not to exercise his National
Security Council powers. Better yet, if the Umno state does relinquish
control but the shark (or sharks) have fled with their suckerfish to
more placid waters; this would again be just another excuse not to do
anything worthwhile but be content that the MO1 is gone.
Instead of stoking the base with threats of hunting sharks, what
should be advocated is that our compromised institutions would be
reformed and the first 100 days in office would be spent carrying out an
agenda of change which should have been planned before assuming office. Instead of the “lock him up” nonsense, what the opposition should be
doing within the first 100 days is dismantling the ecosystem which
allows sharks to thrive. Within that first 100 days, Pakatan Har pan
should be embarking on a process that would see the repeal of all those
laws which are anathema to a functional democracy.
Harapan should be proceeding with an agenda to ensure that Malaysians
regardless of race and religion are allowed to contribute to the
development of this country without being hampered by racists and
religious ideologies that have separated us for decades. Now I am not saying that MO1 should be let off the hook but that is
the work of an independent attorney-general, judiciary and state
security apparatus which should be done in a bipartisan manner. What the
politicians of Harapan should be doing is beginning that long arduous
process of repairing the damage that the long Umno watch has done to our
institutions and society.
Not about settling scores
“Saving Malaysia” is not and should not be defined as a single-issue
project. You tell young people that the prime minister is corrupt and
they will tell you that the whole system is corrupt. They are not
personalising this issue. They understand that the system is screwed up
and politicians do not really want to change it. Politicians seem to
want to settle scores. If the opposition does not like this
characterisation, then perhaps it is the way that Harapan has framed the
DAP’s Kerk Chee Yee claims that young people’s expectations are different
from the older generation. This would really depend on which youths you
ask. Young people are talking all the time but politicians are not
listening to them. The establishment and opposition political classes
groom young people to fit a mould instead of encouraging new ideas which
could possibly change the system.
If young politicians express anything other than the usual
traditional pragmatism, they are vilified. Check that. They are not even
in mainstream politics because mainstream politics is defined by
certain agendas which are supposed to be egalitarian and progressive but
in reality, they are just the same old game of political bromides
instead of real policies shifts.
So, what we are left with are young politicians who ape what their
elders are saying and young people have this uncanny ability to smell
bull manure a mile away. So they shrug their shoulders and attempt to
work the system or reject it wholesale; thus, what we are left with are
partisans who think their single-issue concerns will save Malaysia.
But here is the thing. All young people need is one moment to believe
that change is possible. If they see a new Harapan government acting in
a way which is completely different from the way Barisan Nasional did
things, they would rise to the occasion. Except, of course, they see how
the opposition state governments handle things and they come to the
realisation that there really is not much of a difference between the
coalitions, and they decide that they want no part of it.
That’s why so many of young people leave the country. And you know what I think about that(in aprevious column):
“If you want people to stay and fight for their rights, you must be
able to demonstrate that staying and fighting is something that is
worthwhile. We are not yet at the stage where you can point to
incremental changes (elsewhere) and say that this is progress. We are a
developed country with narratives that are evidence that religious and
racial plurality is something we had, but lost like many Islamic state
narratives in countries all over the Middle East.”
Go hunt your big fish but remember that the Parliament of rats would be waiting for you when you return.