A disease that could kill Malaysia

It has taken a mammoth crisis like MH370 to expose Malaysia’s worrying state of affairs, says Faisal S Hazis.

A media conference on the MH740 in progress - Photograph: themalaymailonline.com

A media conference on the MH740 in progress – Photograph: themalaymailonline.com

 A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 from Kuala Lumpur bound for Beijing went missing in the wee hours of 8 March 2104. After more than two weeks of an unprecedented international search operation, the disappearance of the ill-fated aircraft remains a mystery, although debris has been spotted southwest of Perth. My heartfelt thoughts go out to the family members of all the passengers and crew.

The tragedy that struck MH370 has put Malaysia under international scrutiny. One of the main talking points has been the way the Malaysian authorities have handled (or rather mishandled) the crisis. “They’re handling a huge global issue as if it was domestic politics,” lamented Clive Kessler, Emeritus Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of New South Wales. Kessler is a well-respected scholar on Malaysian politics and society.

Others went as far as pointing fingers at the incompetent leadership of the BN-led government for the lack of progress in the search operation. Even China expressed its frustration at the Malaysian government for the perceived holding back of vital information and its slow response to the crisis.

Dominant party syndrome

These criticisms, which did not come from Malaysian opposition leaders, are fair and spot on.

Clearly, the MH370 saga reveals the BN-led government’s long-standing deficiencies. The focus of international criticism against the Malaysian government is not so much on the failure to locate MH370. Critics acknowledge the challenges and difficulties in the search operation.

But the Malaysian government’s lack of leadership, slow response, questionable assets, flip-flopping statements, lack of empathy, authoritarian attitude and an obsession to blame the opposition for all its failings has become a source of bemusement and ridicule. These shortcomings have long been embedded in Malaysia’s system of governance due to the BN’s long dominance of Malaysian politics. These symptoms are merely reflective of a secretive, oppressive and incompetent regime.

Litany of stupidity, incompetence and abrasiveness

Unfortunately, Malaysians have had to live with the BN’s dominant party syndrome for over five decades. In fact, a great majority of Malaysians have accommodated the BN’s failings.

Recently, Malaysians were again reminded of this BN syndrome. Deputy Home Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar showcased BN leaders’ tradition of making stupid and senseless comments by informing Parliament that child rape statistics are higher within the Malay community since Malays are less willing than non-Malays to accept child rape.

When elections have been continuously rigged by the dominant BN, incompetent and backward individuals end up winning. Worse, they are then made Ministers or Deputy Ministers.

Over in Sarawak, the newly-minted Chief Minister Adenan Satem also portrayed another manifestation of this BN syndrome. While campaigning in the Balingian by-election, Adenan urged voters to vote BN as a show of appreciation for the outgoing Balingian state assembly member and former chief minister, Abdul Taib Mahmud. According to Adenan, failing to vote for the BN would amount to being tulah (cursed).

In a dominant party system like Malaysia, the incumbent does not bother to engage the people through policy or debates on issues. It merely buys support or, in the case of Adenan and Balingian, simply coerces them.

And when the dominant party smells resistance, it would quash threats as evident from the conviction of two top opposition leaders recently.

Sadly, the litany of the BN’s dominant party syndrome is likely to plague Malaysians. This is the cost that Malaysians have to bear as a result of continually returning the BN as the country’s dominant ruling party.

Enough is enough

It has taken a mammoth crisis like MH370 to expose Malaysia’s worrying state of affairs. Let us not ignore another manifestation of this BN dominant party syndrome like what we had to during the Lahad Datu intrusion last year. The opposition and several groups took the Malaysian government to task for the way they mishandled the intrusion. But the BN-led government and the general public merely brushed aside these criticisms as ‘being unpatriotic’ and unfair.

By ignoring the BN’s dominant party syndrome, we are allowing the BN to destroy our beloved country. Let us save Malaysia which deserves better. Enough is enough. A majority of the Malaysian electorate want to put a stop to this rot as evident from their rejection of the ruling BN in the 2013 elections. What about the rest of you?

Faisal S Hazis

Co-editor, Aliran e-Newsletter

25 March 2014

Faisal S Hazis

Dr Faisal S Hazis is an Aliran executive committee member and co-editor of our e-Newsletter. A Universiti Malaysia Sarawak lecturer, he published Domination and Contestation: Muslim Bumiputera Politics in Sarawak (2012).

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2 Responses

  1. BN or shall I say Umno is still around because of the system in place that the schmucks in Umno must have seen will come one day. Therefore they have their lackey, nominated as an EC, to ensure the EC will put in place the various measures their survival. These are evident in the latest results of he last GE, where 7 to 8 thousand voters can have an Umno MP to represent them when another opposition MP will need 70 to 80 thousand voters to represent them. This is clearly day light cheating and what a ‘good job’ the Umno appointed EC has done !

  2. TH Lim says:

    Malaysian have been ruled by the current government since independence for over half a century. Most, if not all, have been controlled by the government to eat, speak, listen, think and act by the BN-led government just like a cow being pulled by the nose to go where its owner wants. This scenario was acceptable by the masses, not by choice but perceived neccessity, immediately after independence. However, to-date, the situation is getting bad to worst and Malaysians are still being ruled as though the country just achieved independence. The internet have now allow the masses to keep abreast with current affairs affecting them and the antics of the government. As more and more Malaysians are informed and realised the deficiencies in the BN-led government, they began to look for an alternative government. Even an ex-PM realised the effect and power of the internet as Malaysians are beginning to see-through the dictatorial actions of the government that he would censor the internet if given the opportunity. Question is, can he get his opportunity again and would it be acceptable by the masses now? It is time the government MUST review and transform itself if it intend to rule for another half a century. Otherwise it is just a matter of time to see a change !

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