The following article is submitted to the Editorial of Malaysia Gazette by reader, Syed Kamal.
Mahathir asked if we really are the same Malaysia under the previous government. Given our current circumstances, it’s pretty easy to say yes.
In his blog post addressing his detractors he cited growing digitalization as seen with going paperless and cashless. These were already underway before Pakatan Harapan.
What Malaysians asked for was a new vision that represents Malaysia Baharu – one that includes Malaysians from all walks of life.
Instead, we got a return to Malaysia Lama – one that is characterized by Mahathir’s own brand of outdated and dangerous thinking.
Take for example his recent comments on the poor, Malaysians remain poor because they are “unproductive” and “do not contribute to society in a way where society would repay them”.
Does this include our paddy farmers, fishermen or factory workers – who tirelessly work to earn a living under increasingly tough economic circumstances?
Or your average Foodpanda or Grab Drivers unable to find jobs despite their higher education due to our government’s continued submission to private sector players that flourish by paying peanuts to foreign workers?
Inequality remains the key issue faces Malaysians of all backgrounds – Mahathir’s trickle-down policies of the 80s have not come with parallel job expansion and wage increases.
While this demonization of the poor continues – Mahathir is back to his old habits. His cult of personality in Bersatu have spent most if not all of their time placing their friends and family in key ministerial portfolios.
Even Mahathir’s golden boy, Syed Saddiq is not immune from this given that there seems to be Bersatu appointees in every corner of KBS.
More worryingly is the appearance of mobilizing government entities and funding to build up the party’s own fledging grassroots machinery as seen in Syed Saddiq’s own Youth Power Club (which is coincidentally being run by an ARMADA member).
The everyday Malaysian man, woman and child are asked to tighten their belts and hold their noses expecting their elected representatives will do the same.
Instead, we have a government that considers buying a new fleet of Vellfires while cutting down on social spending.
Our Ministers don’t even have to courage to implement a minimum wage of RM 1500 even according to according to International Trade and Industry Minister Darell Leiking , the nation’s productivity grew 2.2pct in 2018, ahead of China, Japan and Australia.
No wonder that 61% of Malaysians surveyed in November felt that the country was on the wrong track, with only 26% thinking the opposite according to a recent report by the Merdeka Centre.
In the background of this economic malaise is an intense cultural anxiety–as Pakatan Harapan continues to turn its back to the promise of a multicultural Malaysia Baru.
Backtracking on key manifesto promises such as recognizing the United Examination Certificate (UEC), the removal of the RM30mil matching grant for the Tunku Abdul Rahman College and introducing khat calligraphy in schools have become part and parcel of this government’s signature brand of indecisive policymaking.
This does not sound like the action of a government that works.
The honeymoon period is over, and what we are seeing is a government that seems to be actively seeking to lower the bar on how to act when in power.
So who’s the real unproductive ones now Mahathir?