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M. Bakri Musa

Seeing Malaysia My Way

My Photo
Location: Morgan Hill, California, United States

Malaysian-born Bakri Musa writes frequently on issues affecting his native land. His essays have appeared in the Far Eastern Economic Review, Asiaweek, International Herald Tribune, Education Quarterly, SIngapore's Straits Times, and The New Straits Times. His commentary has aired on National Public Radio's Marketplace. His regular column Seeing It My Way appears in Malaysiakini. Bakri is also a regular contributor to th eSun (Malaysia). He has previously written "The Malay Dilemma Revisited: Race Dynamics in Modern Malaysia" as well as "Malaysia in the Era of Globalization," "An Education System Worthy of Malaysia," "Seeing Malaysia My Way," and "With Love, From Malaysia." Bakri's day job (and frequently night time too!) is as a surgeon in private practice in Silicon Valley, California. He and his wife Karen live on a ranch in Morgan Hill. This website is updated twice a week on Sundays and Wednesdays at 5 PM California time.

Monday, November 14, 2022

Thhird And Final Chance For Malaysia To Move Forward

 Third (And Final) Chance For Malaysia To Move Forward

M. Bakri Musa



This Saturday November 19, 2022 Malaysians will have an opportunity to put an end to over forty years of corruption, incompetence, and mismanagement that began in 1981 when Mahathir first became Prime Minister.


            For Malay voters, it will also be a chance to expose the cruel fraud of Ketuanan Melayu (Malay Special Privileges) that has been perpetrated upon them all these years. Far from being a scheme to improve the impoverished lot of the Malay masses as envisioned by our earlier enlightened and farsighted leaders, it is but a nefarious ruse to line the pockets of our Orang Kayangan (Malay elite). This gluttonous group includes not only the sultans but also hordes of their wannabes, in particular politicians in UMNO and PAS. This perversion of what was once a noble endeavor (Malay Special Privileges) was also the handiwork of Mahathir.


            Malaysians had two earlier tries at rectifying Mahathir’s colossal errors. The first was the Tenth General Election of November 1999, in the wake of the devastating Asian economic tsunami. Mahathir must have had an inkling that he was a major factor to that crisis for he resigned soon after.


            On superficial analysis, the Mahathir-led coalition had a resounding victory in that election, winning over 75 percent of the parliamentary seats despite gaining only 55 percent of the popular votes. More telling however was that many prominent UMNO leaders would have been eliminated had it not been for “last minute” postal votes from some nearby army bases. That election was held in the background of Anwar’s massive reformasi movement against KKN (korupsikronism, and nepotism).


            The second try was on May 2018 when the Najib-lead Barisan coalition lost power. In the ensuing euphoria, leaders of the winning Pakatan Harapan were too generous in attributing their victory to Mahathir’s efforts. That led to their fatal error in inviting the sly Mahathir to take over as Prime Minister. They should have just expressed their gratitude to the man and then lead him out of the door. Had they done so, there would not have been the subsequent back door “Sheraton Move” where Mahathir schemed to block Anwar Ibrahim’s right to succeed him, as was agreed to earlier. Mahathir’s “success” burdened Malaysia with her subsequent political instability, with three Prime Ministers under five years! All equally inept; all Mahathir’s handiwork!


            Malaysia also missed the chance in having her first woman Prime Minister in May 2018. Wan Azizzah would not only have been that but also the best Prime Minister, a Malaysian Angela Markle – quiet, smart, and effective. What an inspiration that would have been for our young girls! Intellectual-wise, Azizzah is head and shoulders above the rest. At the very least she would have spared Malaysia Mahathir’s subsequent treachery that burdened the nation with Muhyiddin’s embarrassing incompetence and Ismail Sabri’s rudderless leadership.


            Or, had Mahathir let his then Deputy Wan Azizzah take over in February 2020 when he resigned for the second time, as normal practice would have it, he would at least help rehabilitate his tattered legacy after having cursed Malaysia with Abdullah Badawi and Najib Razak.


            In this election Pakatan’s Anwar Ibrahim and Rafizi Ramli are at their political prime, putting the other leaders on the defensive. Consider this poignant scene circulating in “Tiktok.” The erstwhile formidable Mahathir was about to deliver his campaign speech when a junior police officer told him politely that he could not do so as Mahathir did not have a permit. His body language as he meekly moved away from the microphone and off the stage said it all. A pathetic sight!


            Contrast him to Fahmi Reza, a non-candidate in this election. He too was told to leave a local campus because his “democracy class” did not have a permit. Fahmi however stood his ground and although he finally left with the students cheering him, he made the authorities look childish if not stupid.


            In this election Malay conservative voters, the bulk of the electorate, have not changed, or if so only marginally, not enough to change the overall electoral dynamics. What has changed is that they are now split between the UMNO-led Barisan coalition and the also Malay-led Perikatan Nasional. This triangulation works to Pakatan Harapan’s advantage.


            The other new factor is the expected influx of young first-time voters. The bulk of them too would be Malays but unlike their elders, these young voters are less likely to hew to traditional patterns. I expect them to identify more with the vigorous and inspiring young leaders in Pakatan Harapan. 


            These young voters are my reasons to be optimistic about this upcoming election. They will usher in a new Malaysia by burying the old, corrupt, and incompetent faces in Barisan and Perikatan coalitions.


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