Monday, 3 November 2008

NEP & 'New Politics' : Delusion & Hope

The are high hopes among certain quarters of a more decisive executive, with the end of the Pak Lah/ 4th-floor Boys era.
It is now confirmed that Najib, although by far the most scandal plagued politician in Malaysian history, is to become the new Umno boss – at least so it seems. And according to BN ideology, what good enough for Umno, is good enough for Malaysians at large.

Although Umno now does acknowledge some of its shortcomings, it is far from ready to articulate its ideas in a coherent manner, when it comes to explaining themselves. Maybe it highlights the lack of ideas – so much so that it only illustrates the confusion that's taking place within. Much of the chest-thumping “Ketuanan Melayu” and “Social Contract” (a la Umno) rhetoric has appeared to have faded a little, despite some efforts to revive it. There is much posturing, empty rhetoric and flip-flopping. There are great efforts afoot in the MSM to lend the Umno-ites credibility via spin.

Todays article in The Sun, “Nazri The Opposition Slayer” by Zainon Ahmad, extolling the “dynamism” of Nazri was one laughable piece of work on one who resorts to street language in the august house. Apparent there's nobodyelse in the BN, who can match LKS's debating skills!! It appears to Zainon, that “he (Nazri) seems to be the only one who can stand toe to toe, nose to nose and eyeball to eyeball” with Uncle Lim!!!
With this confession of sorts that Nazri is the best man that they have, to me, it seemed to be a testimony to the lack of talent within the litter of “talent” left behind by Mahathir's loathing of intellectuals. The prospect of an all powerful “supreme advisory council” being in place to pull the strings on the PM as a symptomatic solution to the mortal illness within, may yet render Najib another impotent PM and Umno leader.
Despite Umno's (and many Malaysians' too) nostalgia for the economic “happy-days” of the eighties/nineties, many are quite anxious about the prospect of Mahathirism once again gaining traction in Umno under Najib. Knowing Mahathir's aversion for criticism, it would be interesting to see how he deals with the intellectual bankruptcy that plagues Umno or the current global economic meltdown. the vote banks, beyond playing the blame game.

The next generation of leaders would fall into the same trap of “politics of hate & fear” which the current is in, should there not be "political awareness" and the spirit of nationhood. It would be rather simplistic of one to say that people only care about "these things" – meaning “Money” - and if addressed, all will be fine and dandy. The economy alone wouldn't solve problems.There are things that money cannot buy – a good education & knowledge based on “values”, ethics, philosophy, honour and human dignity. Not the religious dogma, or fascist rhetoric that has been fodder for unthinking minds all these years, to perpetuate the delusion of the NEP & “Ketuanan Melayu” or the “need for a strong government”.

As things are, Malaysians only care for their own well-being/ comfort, and don't give much thought to socio-political responsibility. The youngsters of "our generation" are next to politically illiterate" and are oblivious of their rights or national well-being. They are happy to sacrifice their humanity & rights at the altar of delusional prosperity, for the political expediency of pirates. They are quite comfortable in their psychological ghettos, like the vernacular schools, ethnically exclusive "villages" and racist institutions, reinforced by BTN/UUCA in the institutions of "higher learning" which are nothing more than glamorized ghettos (they aren't “Universities” in my book).

The result is, the creation of unthinking automatons who who'd applaud all that their political master spew. Soon enough, in the intellectual & moral vacuum, a general sense of despair would set in, wherein each group seeks solace in their own psychological ghettos, only to create a fractured society that can be easily manipulated into confrontation. In this vacuum intellectuals, the people seek solace and hope in the mindless ramblings of charismatic politicians/Godmen who pass rhetoric/ judgments/ edicts that are totally at odds with the spirit of nationhood.

The people don't demand that they are given "quality" anymore - what matters is just the semblance of it and that they can go on existing blissfully.
They don't understand that their children would be made to pay the price of their indiscretions. They don't care if their wealth is squandered by “holidaying political elite families”, as long as they get their apparently generous “peanuts & freebies” from the pirates.
They work longer & harder to make ends meet and live 'comfortable', “modern”, urban lives, so much so, they “don't have the time” to think or even care what politicians do or say. Others would just study/work towards quite another end - to migrate – and maybe rightfully so, to achieve their dreams, because they don't see the need to "belong" to a Malaysia which doesn't allow them to “Be Malaysian” within its borders. They wouldn't fight for it, as it “isn't worth the trouble”, and feel that it is better to seek the other way out to escape the subtle persecution of the NEP. These successful and industrious people are therefore perceived as “penumpang” by small-minded racists, oblivious to the loss of precious human capital.

Malaysians need to bear in mind that, while Mahathir is in his late-winter and Anwar/LGE are in their autumn, it is the next generation of political leaders in Ezam, Nik Nazmi, Husam Musa, LGE, Nurul Izzah,Tony Pua et al who'll need to drive home the idea of nation building based on progressive ideals. Patriots, like RPK and Uthayakumar who are currently incarcerated, will be our moral guardians.

It remains to be seen if the likes of Najib, Muhyidin, Hishamudin, KJ, Toyo or Mahathir Jr. can measure up and accept the realities that stare at them in the face.

Right now, this is where “hope” lies.
The onus is on the Pakatan Rakyat to dismantle the legacy of a Mahathirist Umno - educate the masses of their social responsibility, without the government babysitting. Civil society movements play a crucial role in guiding the government in making policies. Religiosity needs to be sent to the back-burners, and any attempt to indoctrinate the masses to become docile and subservient followers of “godmen” should be put to a stop. The Judiciary needs to be given the space and independence in needs, to interprets the law without the interference of the executive or legislature.

While hopes for a bright future may not exactly be fat, it is all we have, when everything else is lost. That hope will depend a great deal on the sincerity of politicians in PAS - that they will discard the hypocrisy practiced by their godmen, which has made them look bad thus far. PAS definitely plays a major role in determining the outcome of such an endeavor - they will determine the direction that Muslims (in their camp) take in achieving progress.

They need to shed their image of hypocrisy and admit that they are politicians first, and godmen second. PAS needs to realize that Islam is at once their strength and Achilles Heel – and are thus subject to manipulation, should they insist on their veil of religiosity. They should learn to differentiate between detrimental dogma and the positive "values" that would help nationhood.
While PKR and DAP can only work towards that end, ultimately it is Pas, and not Umno (and their 'allies') which will determine if sectarian politics in Malaysia will be put to an end.
It may be that I give too much credit to PAS as the "moral determinant", but I couldn't be too far from the truth.