The Pakatan Harapan (PH) government’s announcement of the new economic model of “shared prosperity” on the one-year anniversary of its administration comes on the heel of a slew of commendable initiatives. The ongoing cleanup of corruption in government, reduction of the cost of the previous government’s mega-projects thus saving the government billions of ringgit, revitalization of Felda (Federal Land Development Authority), and more press freedom are some of its noteworthy efforts.
It has been a good start. While some are disappointed that more was not done, people need to be reminded that Rome wasn’t built in a day. It will take some time before the full effects of the changes are evident. No doubt, reforms have taken a backseat but that might become a priority under subsequent prime ministers. It is unrealistic and putting unfair expectations on the government to deliver all its manifesto pledges in one year.
A little more time will allow for PH’s shared prosperity model that promises the distribution of wealth to all, irrespective of race or religion, and on a needs basis rather than a race basis to kick in. Some analysts have predicted that the economy will turn before the end of the year and reflected in a strengthened ringgit against the US dollar at RM4.10 — perhaps better — from the current RM4.20.
Everything hinges on an improved economy and the government — and the people — must guard against the threats to economic progress. Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahahir Mohamad was right in throwing the spotlight on the PH coalition partners to cast aside differences and work together as one entity. If they don’t, the country will risk the danger of becoming a “failed state”.
Tun hit the nail on the head. The threat is from within; it is not external. The threat will come in two forms: disgruntled Malay politicians and Islamic terrorism. Both will foment in the current culture of Malay politics — if vested interests are not sacrificed for the good of the nation.
Toxic Malay Politics
It is expected that desperate, disgruntled politicians will resort to anything to wrest power and get back into government. Such opposition members really can’t match the government initiatives with counter proposals and can only give their opinions (not facts) and use innocuous issues such as the Rome Statute to whip up Malay sentiments by playing on race and religion against the government. They succeed because their supporters are used to the old way of getting some money for their votes and will go along with whatever their leaders say.
The current tendency is to give in to the demands of Malay leaders for fear of antagonising their supporters. What the PH leaders don’t seem to understand is that it is not the supporters but the leaders who are creating trouble and causing political instability by playing the race and religion cards and this is reflected in the hesitancy of the market to pick up.
To neutralise them, get round the leaders and get to the supporters directly. Perhaps, for the short-term, PH needs to go on a nationwide roadshow to tell the people what is being done for them. This, together with the filtered down effects of the shared prosperity economic model in time, will eventually make the Malay supporters realise that they have been backing the wrong horse. The shared prosperity model will benefit the Malays mostly because they are the majority.
This is real and in our midst. There are a couple of videos circulating in which an Australian imam warns of the reality of Islamic terrorism in our midst. Imam Shaikh Tawhidi, an Australian and Shia leader, believes that jihadists are setting up a caliphate worldwide. It is hard to verify if he is truly an imam, but what he says is worth investigating, knowing how crafty and reckless jihadists are in promoting their agenda.
There have been some reports locally that the police are aware that Islamic terrorists are operating locally, hiding in plain sight by marrying locals and setting up businesses here to fund their ambitions.
This is an issue that needs to be addressed and not taken lightly. Terrorists survive in extremely conservative Muslim communities where no one questions the religious leaders. The majority of Malays fall in this category and they may not know that they are being used. The police needs to step up its anti-Islamic terrorism efforts to ensure that jihadists have not infiltrated the government or the political system or local communities. If they have, they need to be identified and rooted out.
There is also a need to counter the traditional Islamic narrative with a more modern one. Instead of nurturing and tolerating hate preachers like Zakir Naik, there is a need to expose Muslims to the scholars of their religion who present a better face of Islam.
If the nation progresses but Islam remains hijacked by the jihadists, that is a time bomb waiting to happen — if unaddressed and unneutralised, that will be the threat that will derail all the plans that the PH government is striving for and our future will be nothing but a failed state.