Sunday, March 9, 2008

spotlight on malaysia

Malaysia is our closest neighbour - do take some time, "look" and "see" what's happening around us. 8 March 2008 was their election day.

as a Singaporean, what are your feelings towards Malaysia on the whole? What is particularly familiar to us would probably be frequent news reports of Singaporeans getting robbed (or killed) while in Johor or KL.

my parents had Malaysian roots before assuming citizenship of Singapore. So, in my younger years i had the chance to experience life in Malaysia during visits to relatives, etc. I thought, Malaysia before the 2000s was better. Somehow.

i visited Penang in Jan 2007. We should know Intel once based their regional operations there. But it was no more. My impression of Penang at that point in time - it can do better to attract investment and tourism dollars. It seemed sleepy and losing its vitality.

before this GE, there were several eye popping signs of a complacent and ignorant government, which i read from ST:

1. Mahathir's stinging criticism of his successor, Abdullah. I believe there were reasons for the former to do so. As read from Pak Lah's wiki entry, Mahathir accused him of lying. If you visit the entry, you'd see Abdullah sleeping. This is a deliberate move by somebody, because it seemed many people remembered him as a sleeping politician (or PM).

2. brandishing of the keris (traditional Malay dagger) by UMNO Youth leader. There was even a remark - "UMNO is willing to risk lives and bathe in blood to defend the race and religion." Alarm bells rang...

3. slowly increasing restrictions on freedom of speech. The Star was bought over from a tycoon, because it was not really speaking too well of the government.

4. protests by Indians because of under-representation at various levels. The reputation and credibility of MIC, a party that is part of the National Front alliance was badly scalded. As reflected from the latest election result, Samy Vellu, the leader of MIC, lost his seat to opposition. He is almost politically finished.

during the Mahathir administration, i don't really remember protests of such scale. Maybe he was shrewd enough to keep the situation under control.

5. threat by Abdullah to make Chinese vote for BN, otherwise they won't be represented. This broke the camel's back by angering the Indians and the Chinese. So is this PM representing all races of Malaysia, or his own?

this quote reflects the voices of the rakyat (people):

Pak Lah,
If you truly love this country, you ought to know that your government has moved nowhere the last four years. We were full of hope that you will begin to dismantle the baloney built by Mahathir when you first became PM. You have 90% of the seats in Parliament, what else do you need? Yet you squandered the opportunity and continued the business as usual and used the same incompetent and corrupted cabinet ministers. Some said you are being restrained by vested interest groups and UMNO old guards constantly watching over you. But I disagree, you are an old guard, and you represent interest group too.

As the PM, I think you have no idea how frustrated ordinary citizens felt about this country and this government. We have every opportunity to be the first rate nation in the region. Yet you and your government have continued to indulge in good for nothing politics and squandered all the wealth of the nation. Singapore has nothing and today the Island Republic is in the midst of buying stakes in four largest banks in the world - Citigroup, Merrill Lynch, UBS and Lehman Brothers. What have you got show Pak Lah, given the enormous amount of oil and gas revenue. Where do all the monies go?

I think the rakyat have had enough of UMNO led government. Today may be many Malays in the rural areas are still not fully aware of the abuse and mismanagement perpetuated by you and your government. But the time is coming. By next election, the process of transformation that shall begin tomorrow will take its course.

as election results stream in, BN is in danger of losing the 2/3 majority in parliament. Previously, this wasn't a real problem at all. Abdullah and his allies are in serious political danger.

as 'political winds' change, Singapore will be indirectly affected as Malaysia's policies (and sentiments) towards us change. And good luck to all my rich Malaysian Chinese friends and their businesses.

links: Malaysiakini, Lim Kit Siang's blog

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