What A Difference A Year Makes

Get re-elected

First Law of Office Bearers

People who sometimes wonder why Malaysia used to be described by the British as the Land of Promise should have been around during the first two months of the run-up towards the 14thMalaysian general election. 

Let’s face it: the eventual winners, Pakatan Harapan promised all and the kitchen sink. 

But wait a minute. Are we saying that Malaysians were so dazzled by Pakatan’s brilliant pledges of sweeping reform that those promises ensured its victory? 

Please. Voters were simply sick and tired of the high cost of living, Barisan’s arrogance and that 800-pound gorilla in the room called 1MDB. 

Or to put it another way, do you remember a single electoral promise by the Barisan Nasional between, say, 1975 and 2013 that sticks in your mind? 

It’s been a year since May 9, 2018 and a famous electoral upset where an unfancied Pakatan Harapan coalition toppled the incumbent government in a decision that, to me at least, was way overdue. 

But now the pundits are shaking their heads with some predicting that the new government is, at best, a one-term wonder. 

First, ignore those who credit PH’s alleged unpopularity to unfulfilled campaign promises. That is the stuff of bunkum. The BN were almost never held accountable for its campaign promises. Why should PH be any different?

Still, in all fairness PH has implemented almost 40% of its promises, which is fantastic in itself. And it maintains that the rest – except for the free tolls, perhaps – is a continuing work in progress. 

OK, the jury will remain out on that. One of the pledges, however, was putting limits on the term of a serving prime minister and that would be very remarkable if implemented. “Remarkable” because that would be like asking chickens to vote for Colonel Sanders. 

Truth be told, the only reason for PH’s declining popularity is the fiction, mainly hawked by some opposition politicians from the previous government and the Islamic Party, that it is a threat to the Malays and Islam. 

That, in itself, is well-nigh impossible for the following reasons:  

The position of both Islam and the Malays is protected by the Constitution. 

The Rulers, the protectors of the religion, are all Malay.

The civil service – from federal to state level – is overwhelmingly Malay. 

The Police and the Armed Forces – the only ones permitted to carry weapons – are overwhelmingly Malay.  

The Prime Minister, his deputy and the majority of MPs in Parliament are Malay. 

All Islamic agencies including the Syariah courts are staffed by Muslims. 

Yet, prodded by politicians desperate to make a comeback, the notion of a “threat” persists. 

It is also fueled by the largest number of non-Malay Cabinet Ministers ever; the largest number of non-Malay MPs in Parliament and non-Malays as both Finance Minister and Attorney General, respectively. 

So you can see how a “threat” argument might conceivably be developed. 

It was Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda, who famously described how a fiction might be believed. “If you tell a lie big enough and continue to repeat it, it will eventually be believed,” was how he put it.

In short, this is likely to go on until 2023. 

The best counter for that would be a simple question. What would have happened if BN got re-elected last year?

The answer – business as usual – should put the fear of God into any sensible voter. 

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