Normalcy trumps Harapan’s emergency rhetoric - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Tuesday, January 19, 2021
Malaysiakini : History tells us that authoritarianism seldom bode well for the
common women, children and men. I know for sure, the Malaysian people
want, and deserve more than the tyrannical authoritarian autocracy that
Muhyiddin has ushered us into. - Howard Lee on Twitter
The opening quote by DAP leader Howard Lee is indicative of the
disconnect between political operatives and the rakyat of Malaysia.
Saying that the current prime minister ushered in a “tyrannical
authoritarian autocracy” is the kind of ahistorical statement that is
right up there with the propaganda “saving Malaysia'' that failed
Pakatan Harapan so badly.
When you have a religion of the state
which determines the cultural, social and economic destiny of the
majority of this country, you are already in a kind of autocracy. When
certain words are verboten to some Malaysians based on race and
religion, this is tyrannical. When you have news organisations afraid of
touching upon certain "sensitive" issues, this is authoritarian.
that’s not really the issue. The issue is that for the average rakyat,
this emergency has not affected them in the kind of way that Harapan
political operatives think it has.
Do not get me wrong, I am of
the opinion that Lee is amongst the young leaders of this country who
actually could be of great help in reshaping the trajectory of this
country. His tweets, especially those in Malay, are interesting because
what he does; unlike others, he is presenting a coherent
counter-narrative which seems to trigger many of the ketuanan political operatives I know.
emergency is playing out like just another power struggle, between the
ruling political class, for the rakyat. The MCO (movement control order)
for certain states has more of an impact than the emergency declaration
Even with potential military boots on the streets, the
rakyat have been desensitised because, during the first MCO, the
military was involved. Not only were they involved, but for the most
part, they carried out their duties professionally and the curve was
flattened. Things went back normal until the political class decided to
play their games and we got back to square one.
political operatives say that there is no need for an emergency because
there are adequate laws to handle this pandemic and the designation of
an MCO serves the same purpose, this is the reason why the majority of
the rakyat do not seem so concerned.
Because they see that the
only people in a practical sense affected by the emergency are political
operatives. Maybe if parliamentarians donated their salaries to the
rakyat during the duration of this emergency, that would dispel the
negative optics of this being merely another political struggle between
parties craving power.
At the moment, they have bigger issues to
worry about, and for some people. especially for those who are used to
operating in a feudal system after years of political and social
indoctrination, a decree by the king and the non-existent difference
between a lockdown and an emergency is not the galvanising force some in
Harapan think it is.
I have no idea how Harapan, which claims to
be an alternative to PN, is handling this emergency issue. Mind you, I
think they should be concentrating on the pandemic, which I believe is a
better avenue to express the failings of this government than the
desperate attempts by political operatives to appeal to the king.
Speaking of the pandemic, kudos to the DAP’s Ong Kian Ming on his 10 questions
to the Health director-general. Embedded in those questions are the
foundation of opposing this emergency by relying on the science of rate
of transmission and the like to demonstrate that the emergency is
unnecessary, but at the same time, not making the emergency the central
issue, but rather the health and economy of the rakyat.
to the question of how Harapan is handling this emergency. Folks like to
claim that this is some kind of existential threat to democracy in this
country. The reality is that democracy was always hanging by a thread
in this country.
Repressive laws that were supposed to be
overturned when Harapan entered Putrajaya were ignored or worse because
suddenly not spooking the Malays became a big issue. Or maybe Harapan
understood that such laws were useful when it came to dealing with a
certain segment of the rakyat.
As with the response to the
pandemic, Harapan political operatives are all over the place when it
comes to presenting this emergency as a threat to democracy. The
waffling on joining the special consultative council is really bad
Of course, you are not going to have much power in this
council. Power is not the point here. It is sitting in on the council
and assessing what is being done for the rakyat by the PN government. It
is being the voice of the rakyat even if it means being a small voice
in a big echo chamber and attempting to influence policy - and here is
the important part - relaying this to the base and the rakyat.
petitioning the king which basically means that you are telling the
royal institution that they were hoodwinked by the prime minister is bad
optics to the crowd you claim you do not want to spook.
that not everyone in Harapan is on board with this demonstrates to the
rakyat that Harapan is in disarray and this all seems like another
attempt of “politicking” in the political class.
leader Anwar Ibrahim says that the government should be offering a
consistent, detailed plan, but the fact is that the rakyat are suffering
because state governments, which include those controlled by Harapan,
are not offering them a consistent detailed plan and all they do is
blame the federal government.
In mylast piece,
I wanted to know what the Harapan strategy was for dealing with this
pandemic. This really should not be such a difficult question to answer.
Some DAP political operatives emailed me news stories of what
individual political operatives were doing, and while I applaud these
initiatives, this is not a national strategy.
But then again, you
may not need a national counter health strategy to build grassroots
goodwill. I would argue that Harapan carrying out all these initiatives
could gather momentum which could translate to political gains.
problem of course is that this narrative, instead of being compiled
into a greater narrative, is subsumed beneath the emergency narrative
which does Harapan no real political good.
Those MPs who petition
the government to allow F&B outlets to operate beyond the 8pm
restrictions are doing far more than engaging in the emergency rhetoric
that is of interest to nobody except the base.
People who are
struggling remember those who helped them out and those who just tried
to gain power. They do not understand or have the time for the fact that
democracy is failing when they do not have enough money to put food on
More of these types of strategies and publicising it to
the hilt together with Harapan MPs highlighting individual struggles of
ordinary people are far more effective than the emergency rhetoric they
are engaging in now.