People don’t seem to learn from history- you can never get to status quo ante- to what it was before. Dr Mahathir had his 22 years- whether he comes back as mentor and be an indirect PM or arranged for his horse to lead the country, it will not happen. Similarly, the joker who stakes a claim as the Sultan of Melaka as well as some others, they forget that lesson in history. We can never go back to what it was before. The days of absolute rulers and discretionary rule are over.
The difference between some of us in wanting Najib to step down as leader of this country is; one side wants a return to strongman politics, while the other wants to usher in a progressive government which governs according to the rule of law and carries out more just and equal policies. The first group wants status quo ante- to what it was before. What it was before were the halcyon days of Mahathir’s rule. The tactical advantage the first group has is that it can point to a central figure representing its particular political preference while our side, sad to say cannot provide such a figure yet.
Are we going to allow the return of the good old days of better organized pillage and plunder instead of the free-for all dip in the teller under the current leadership? We don’t want status quo ante and we certainly reject the hubristic government of Najib.
Let me say at the onset here- the reason why Najib enjoys an extended political life much more than he actually deserves is because decent people like Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, too refined and principled, refuses or is hesitant to move in. to my mind, he is the only credible central figure able to command respectability and the widest appeal. It’s puzzling why he is slow off the mark. So allow me to respectfully remind Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah of the statement: ‘All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing’.
The admiration for autocracy is reflective of the general rejection of indecisiveness and detachment associated with the current leadership. The Najib leadership is not helped either by stupid remarks from insensitive political duds. Eat less sugar to prevent diabetes, eat other things if chickens are expensive, use other roads if you don’t like paying tolls, leave this country for another if you don’t agree with Putrajya. These are intellectually lazy arguments coming from thoughtless persons. Why are these confused signals thrown around contemptuously? These things happened, because Najib overplayed the elegant silence game. He doesn’t have the courage and conviction to step in and stop these nonsensical sound bites being spewed. He is not seen as stoic, cool and collected but viewed as disturbed, withdrawn and empty-headed. There is a large vacuous space between those ears.
The idea of an over-assertive and decisive leadership is appealing. More so when people now realise that Najib leadership lacked firmness and decisiveness. Perhaps it stems from a taciturn and timid personality who wants to please everyone. When he took over as PM, one of the advice he sought from a former DPM was how to handle Dr Mahathir. Imagine that!
Now, that is a revelation. His idea of managing the country is to please everyone. Things like weeding out corruption, selecting the best men for a good government was far from his mind. Using government machinery as a tool to bring about progress and cultural change.
Managing the ship of state was far from his mind- pleasing everyone was his primary objective. He was told to treat Mahathir like a child throwing tantrums- pay attention and treat Mahathir well and all will be all right. Obviously he hasn’t- because strongman Mahathir exercises more influence over the UMNO warlords than just being a spoilt child.
Our side wants Najib to leave in order to pave the way for the creation of a just government- democratic, upholding the rule of law, carrying out policies that give all round decency to our citizens. Admittedly, the problem with our side, we haven’t yet got a central rallying figure who can command all round respect and confidence.
When the ship is captain-less, it is directionless. When the ship of state is leaderless, the country is aimless. There’s a sense of hopelessness in the air, emitting the stench of decay. How do we describe our leader? Only one word comes readily to mind. Hubris: which means, extreme pride or arrogance. Hubris often indicates a loss of contact with reality and an overestimation of one’s own competence or capabilities, especially when the person exhibiting it is in a position of power. As I have said in an earlier article, after completing his presidential speech, Najib remarked that he has given a good speech. Of course it was a good one given the adulation and the usual ululating from a sanitized crowd. There is a saying attributed to a Greek Philisopher that Whom the Gods would destroy, they first make mad.
The Chinese in particular have no limiting sentimentalism to change a government. They have this cultural concept of the mandate of heaven. When a leader is blessed to rule, he receives the mandate from heaven. The mandate is withdrawn when he is no longer fit to rule. The Mandate of Heaven was a well-accepted and popular idea among the Chinese people. It places the problem of political choice in a simple manner; leadership is changed in accordance to the giving and withdrawal of the mandate of heaven. The concept was often invoked by philosophers and scholars in ancient China as a way to curtail the abuse of power by the ruler, in a system that otherwise offered little other checks to this power.
The Mandate of Heaven had no time limitations, instead depending on the just and able performance of the ruler. Throughout the history of China, times of poverty and natural disasters were often taken as signs that heaven considered the incumbent ruler unjust and thus in need of replacement.
Malays on the other hand has an inbuilt limiting sentimentalism. They complicate political choice. We can’t change because who will look after us? We can’t change because our religion will be threatened. We can’t change because our rulers will be removed. We can’t change because there is no alternative to UMNO. We cannot remove Najib because he is the son of Tun Razak and because he has red lips. Whereas, if we simplify the matter, we only need to evaluate the performance of Najib and the members of his government. Najib is worse than sleep-prone Pak Lah.
Just look around us. We are plagued with an increasing number of problems with catastrophic implications. As a result of financial imprudence, the government needs to increase taxes. It does that to finance the burgeoning bureaucracy and to spend on projects by cronies. That’s all to it. No mystery there. Spending on welfare is reduced and cut to allow more balance with the government to pursue other business projects. The cost of living is rising, evidenced by the all-round increase in prices of essentials such as clothing, food, housing and education.
Now, those are clear signs, the mandate of heaven or God’s political subsidy must be withdrawn. It must be returned to us, the rakyat.