Economic prospects look gloomy. Government institutions appear compromised. Some RM2.6bn has reportedly found its way into the Prime Minister’s bank account.
Incredibly, we are told it is a donation from the Middle-East? Does that mean we have a ‘foreign-funded’ prime minister? Or, if the money was meant for Umno, that the party is foreign-funded’?
Imagine if opposition leaders or parties or NGOs had received a fraction of that money from foreign sources. What would have been the reaction from the BN or their media? The recipients would immediately have been labelled stooges of foreign interests by the powers that be.
Many ordinary Malaysians are now asking, where do we go from here? Is there hope? What happens now?
I think there is hope for change – and this is what the leadership fears most.
1. Umno has lost the propaganda battle
More and more people are aware of the plunder that is taking place, as can be seen in the drop in the popular vote for the BN in GE2008 and a further drop in GE2013, when the BN lost its simple majority of popular support.
The online media played a big role in creating this awareness. That is why those in power are cracking down on The Edge and Sarawak Report. And now they want to control online news portals via registration.
But someone please tell them, we are living in the digital age, and there is no turning the tide back. There is no going back to the nostalgic days (for the BN) when, if you wanted to publish, you had to apply to the KDN for a publishing permit.
Now, anyone can publish online; anyone can be a citizen jounalist online or over social media.
Malaysians have got a taste of democracy and they have savoured it. They want more, not less freedom of the media.
2. The BN has lost public trust following that “donation”
Everywhere you go, people are talking about that ‘donation’, making all kinds of snide remarks.
How do you counter such distrust? You can’t – not even with the best public relations team. Lim Kok Wing quit his role. The prime minister’s PR boys face an impossible task.
The MCA, MIC and Gerakan have long since lost any relevance they may have had, leaving beind just Umno in the peninsula and its allies in Sarawak and Sabah.
The era of cynical racial politics to boost popularity is over – though some still hanker for the Old Politics of race and religion and will do their best to resuscitate it with the help of right-wing groups and religious conservatives.
3. Umno is deeply divided and fears the next election
Former Umno members can now be found in the DAP and PKR. Ex-ministers are now lending a hand to the opposition parties, and, in the case of Zaid Ibrahim, are calling for a 100000-strong rally.
Johor, the bastion of Umno for so long, should now cause sleepless nights for the Umno leadership. Muhyiddin, the Johor MB and the palace held a private meeting recently.
Up north, Kedah MB Mukhriz Mahathir’s Fan Club uploaded an old video on their facebook page that showed Najib calling for political financing to be channelled to official party accounts. Mukhriz himself recently visited Muhyiddin after the latter was dropped as deputy prime minister.
Mahathir has been quiet of late. But when Mahathir is quiet, Najib should be worried. It probably means the former PM is thinking of his next move.
Indeed, the 3M’s – Mukhriz, Mahathir and Muhyiddin – should prove to be a handful for Najib to manage.
Umno supporters themselves appear at a loss as to how to defend their party leaders while others are struggling to come to terms with the enormous “donation”. Expect some of them to sway in their support.
4. MACC officers are upset
The MACC guys appear to be unhappy with what’s going on.
Sometimes it takes a blatant injustice or oppressive measure against someone close to you – a relative, a colleague, a friend – to wake you up. I believe this is what the MACC guys are going through with the arrests and interrogation of their colleagues and the disruption of their work.
Their unhappiness has created a crack in the general state apparatus that has propped up leaders in the past. In fact, opposition leaders and activists have been rallying to the side of the embattled MACC officers.
MACC officers have even held prayers invoking Allah for divine intervention! If their prayers are answered, why, the corrupt will have every reason to quake in their boots.
Many more honest civil servants need to stand up and do their duty to the country without fear or favour. Malaysia needs you to serve the Rakyat with honesty and integrity at this critical time.
5. Civil society taps into public revulsion
The Bersih 4 rally has been announced. Tomorrow the journalists are gathering at Central Market. They will be able to tap into widespread public disgust as more and more become aware and conscientised.
Let me give you an example of how much the ground has moved: for a long while, outside NGO circles, I was considered to be the ‘NGO’ guy, the maverick, among my circle of friends, ex-classmates and relatives. These are people from all walks of life who are busy with their own lives and professions.
Well, today, these very same people are the ones sending me messages, articles and cartoons pouring scorn at what is going on! I just lean back and marvel at how times have changed.
Now everyone can be an “activist”. The people have awakened.