WITH the anniversary of the PH government looming, several media news have been asking my thoughts on how I would rate the administration. Normally, I do not like grading anything or anyone, even students’ assignments. To me, education is like life, it is a process. Grading seems so formalised and finalised, while life and learning never really end.
Education and life are similar in many respects. They have beginnings but never an end in one sense. What we have at our local universities are easy to rate and grade because they are not really involved in education as a philosophical or a spiritual construct but more of a package tour. You go some places, see some things, take some pictures, and then back to the bus and plane and then go home. You have a beginning and a definite end. Not so about true education and life.
The PH government was the second government put in place by the people and as it is in its early beginnings, it is a natural phenomenon of many hopes and expectations. However, some politicians in PH are turning the people’s hopes and expectations towards their own personal power grabbing agenda and this has disrupted some of the innocence of the beginning of life.
Anyway, to be true to the ‘innocence’ of beginnings for the PH, I have thought to classify it as a ‘hostage’ government predicament. We, the people must know this predicament of being a hostage in ‘power’ before we grade the administration of this country.
What, first of all, do I mean by a ‘hostage’ predicament?
Generally, in a ‘hostage’ scenario, a person or a group of persons are under some ‘threat’ and have their movements and actions restricted by an ‘external’ entity. We could even say that the external entity are the ones determining some of the important movement and activities of the hostage.
Now, I wish to introduce two kinds of ‘threatening external entities’. In the first kind, the ‘threatening entity’ holding a hostage is real, alive, and has all the force to determine the outcome of any scenario. The threat is absolutely and unarguably real.
The hostage has no choice but to act or move in a certain way to avoid self-termination by the external entity. That is understood.
However, what is less understood is my second type of ‘threatening external entity’. What is it? Well … nothing! The external entity threatening the hostage is … no one or nothing! Actually many do not know a strong and powerful ‘nothing’ can determine the fate and life of an individual. It is a psychological condition known as ‘panic disorder’. Panic disorder is a serious debilitating mental condition where the mind of a person is absolutely convinced that its body is under threat of death by some perceived medical condition made up solely by the agitated state of the mind.
Some people may laugh at this suggestion or knowledge but to those who suffer it, this is no laughing matter. Lives of many have been ruined and subjected to a shrivelled existence in a corner of one’s home, afraid of leaving the house, and doing anything in life. A fate worse than death.
I experienced this kind of condition for seven long years, which almost ended my academic career. However, through sheer determination and a 110 per cent support from my wife and children, I read, meditated, thought and battled against the condition until I emerged victorious. It is, therefore, my suggestion that PH is also suffering from being a hostage of its own conditioned mind with a ‘nothing’ or ‘no one’ as its ‘threatening entity’.
In the first scenario, the PH government is under a real and physical threat of destruction. When PAS and Umno can mobilise 40,000 ignorant Malays into the hot sun at Dataran Merdeka for the non-issue of the ICERD, there is a real threat there.
PH has taken so many beatings from civil society, who jeered and ticked off the lawmakers as cowards and backtrackers. I think that such an ability to mobilise ‘unthinking’ and ‘ill-educated’ Malays is a dangerous weapon that could easily result in a May 13 scenario. The PH government has to understandably tiptoe through this minefield of certain issues.
Secondly, the Rome Statute issue came up and showed another ‘threatening entity’, which Minister Saifuddin termed as the ‘deep state’. The deep state is a government within a government that can disrupt the elected government of the people.
With the Suhakam enforced disappearance conclusion, this deep state scenario is as real as the unseen tiger in the forest that one can hear its roar and smell its droppings. The PH government cannot be labelled a cowardly government in this sense as the deep state threat is all too real. Thus, for civil society to react the way it did by calling the government uncourageous, I think is uncalled for.
Now, for the second hostage scenario, the PH is held hostage by … literally nothing or no one! It is held hostage by its own irrational and cowardly as well as selfish fears against acting for the goodness of the people. There are so many issues that the PH can brave its own demons and beat its own psychological fears. For panic disorder sufferers, the only cure is to brave the fears and ride the horse back.
There are no two ways about it. How one does it is the subject of many thoughts and experiments in psychological analysis. I had done most of it and can give a three-hour seminar on my recovery process. Let’s look at several issues that the PH can act decisively on and not in a cowardly fashion.
Top of my list is the UEC recognition. Why is the PH dawdling? Six by-elections have passed and the Malays are still ignorantly supporting two immoral and bankrupt Malay parties. Bets against the Malays changing their stand by withholding the UEC recognition are ‘sucker bets’. The delaying tactic will not change the Malays but will 100 per cent side line the vote banks of the non-Malays. Just recognise the UEC and move on.
Second on the list is opening the postgraduate studies of UiTM to non-Bumiputeras as suggested by the founding father of the institution Tan Sri Arshad. Just do it! Let the students picket peacefully here and there and announce 1,000 scholarships for some of them. How long are the Chinese, Indians, and other non-Malays going to fork out their tax money to prop up an institution mostly benefitting one race?
Mara stands for Majlis Amanah Rakyat. It does not say Majlis Amanah Satu Kaum Saja. Many of my Malay friends with five figure salary joint incomes send their children to UiTM. Who are we kidding?
Third on my list are the public universities. I do not understand why it is so difficult for the MOE to take what Gerak had suggested to change the university administration. And how difficult is it to put up a vice-chancellor from another race?
Fourth on my list is changing school education. Although Maszlee is doing his utmost best in house cleaning, I think the people expect one small courageous act of taking religion out of the curriculum into the afternoon session. None other than the scholar mufti Dr Asri had suggested it and I think this act would speak volumes of the PH intention to actually ‘do’ something worthy.
Next would be the restructuring of the subjects that would put real value in uniting our people. That would come a bit later-lah. I also think that decentralisation of education can be an experiment worth doing. Each state would be in charge of how they would use their resources with the help of the citizens and civil society. After all, education is our concern and the children are ours. We, the people must share in the burden of change.
Fifth would be disregarding the idea of a continuing NEP just to appease the Malays. After one year it has not helped the Malay vote bank one iota. Forget it Azmin. The people want you to be a minister for all and not just the Malays. If an MP from the PH has visions of being a Prime Minister of Malaysia, be first a leader for all and not just for one’s ego or vanity. The power is not within you to decide but with the people to choose or not to choose.
Sixth, seventh, eighth and others on the list are other simple items that would not bring the ‘deep state’ into being because by that time the people will bury the deep state into the grave where it belongs. The people stand by their elected representative … warts and all! We would never allow any deep state condition to prevail.
For PH, Malaysians will watch carefully if it has exorcised its ‘hostage’ mindset and exorcised demons of ethnic appeasement to get on with the business of governing fairly and responsibly. The people supported PH once and will support it again, if it sticks pretty much to the game plan as promised.
The people are the referee and the crowd. When the whistle is blown on May 10, 2019, let the second period begin …
Comments can reach the writer via [email protected]