Tuesday, March 2

The year in review – the good, the bad and the misfires


Two more days and we’ll be bidding the year 2018 adieu, goodbye, so long, it has been a tumultuous year, full of surprises, upheavals and shocks.

But what had started as the bright shining moment in the politics of Malaysia ended the year in a cautious uncertainty although optimism and hope still flicker within most of us.

We have seen and witnessed what is possible, what is doubtful and what still remains the same, although the mission and the will to change will forever be there.

Where there’s a will there’s a way; although the path to our final destination may well be paved with stony ground, hilly slippery slopes and boulders the size of impossible may hinder and slow us down.

Change came in the form of the results of the May 9 General Elections, the 14th held since 1957 when Malaya had gained its independence from the British.

We had only seen one single political party and alliance rule our nation since then, some 61 years ago. For us in Sarawak and Sabah, it was since 1963 when we had together formed Malaysia – and it had seemed to most of us since that the Barisan National (BN) alliance would be ruling us forever.

Forever changed on May 9; most historically at the federal level and to an extent in Sabah. Sarawak won’t see its state general election till 2021, and continues to be ruled by a remnant of the old BN albeit a name change to GPS instead.

The old emperor had simply changed its clothing, without much else having seen any other renewal or reform.

Pakatan Harapan (PH) a newly formed coalition strung together by the Tun Dr Mahathir/DAP and PKR leadership has had a rather uneasy seven months trying to reform while keeping its quarrelsome members and other so-called leaders in line and not squabbling over minute matters of petty concerns; while swimming in deeper waters full of sharks, snakes and crocodiles from within and without – the latter being the old foes in Umno and PAS who having lost power and authority overnight are taking pot-shots at all and sundry behaving rather like headless chicken performing their death dance.

The alleged wrong-doers in the previous regime, their cronies and their underlings are slowly being dragged into courts and charged for their crimes and other law-breaking misdeeds – no doubt we will be witness to years of court cases as well as deals and other nefarious goings on.

At the end of the day all that we the citizens of Malaysia want to see is that justice will be served and that all the stolen monies and properties are duly returned or re-instated into their proper places.

The hiccups and the misfires, the wrong turns and the bad decision making – from the top downwards, in almost every vital ministry, has been rife and regular.

Who can forget the missteps made so many times by the newly installed minister of education? The young turk of a minister of Youth and Sports? I do not need to rehash the finer points or details here so as not to further bore you kind reader.

Suffice it to say that at this early stage of a newly formed coalition one can suffer their errors and awry decisions – but our patience is wearing thin.

At the state level, one can sense a feeling of politicians marching time, expectations being heightened and yet uncertain what the next state elections come 2021 might bring?

Is our Chief Minister confident enough to call for an earlier state election? Maybe even sometime next year 2019 or in 2020?

There are two ways of looking at the overall scenario here.

One is to call the state elections now – while the PH federal government is still in its infancy, still in a somewhat chaotic state, trying to sort out what Najib had done in West Malaysia (or not done), because so far the PH government has done virtually nothing reformative in either Sarawak or Sabah!

But yet don’t for a minute mistake that there is indeed a wind of change in the air, and the electorate has been caught up in it. Could they too be willing to risk it all and vote for a change anyway?

The other decision is to wait it out – go for the full term till sometime in the middle of 2021 – in over 2 years, with RM31 billion in the state reserves, the GPS government can do so much more for the 2.7 million Sarawakians – more development, better welfare facilities and  services – thus generating a new sense of hope and reform.

All this can only be done through the personal efforts of the state assemblymen and their underlings at all levels.

If the funds and the efforts do not filter down to the ground level all will be lost. As always there is a high risk of leakage at every level.

This decision assumes that at the receiving end of it the electorate will in return be appreciative and thankful and will recognise that the GPS government has had their personal welfare at heart; and in reciprocating will re-elect them again at the polls.

It’s not an easy decision for the chief minister.

Because if by then the new PH government at the federal level has managed to get its act together, put in all their best efforts, surmount the impossibly hard spectre of sabotage within the civil service and the continuous cyber-trooper efforts of the Umno/PAS online attacks – and made good of all its promised reforms – politically, socially and economically; then the GPS government will find it extremely tough going at the 2021 state polls.

At the end of the day, no matter when it is called, and no matter who wins it, the benefactor of it all will be both you and me, the true Sarawakian. As it should always be.