May I suggest that the first goal of the vision to transform Malaysia would be to give the opposition every chance to become a credible and effective alternative, in the context of the nation. The problems PR is experiencing now is inevitable. As time goes on the weaknesses in these parties, masked previously by the fact that nothing much was really at stake, will surface.
The Micah Mandate
Someone, in writing about managing change, made the point that when change is first envisioned it is usually in very broad idealistic terms. That vision needs to be broken down into manageable stages with goals that are more realistic and have a shorter time frame. The point is that a broad idealistic vision should set the direction and a series of smaller steps, building on each progressive advancement, must be developed and set in motion. Failure to do this results in ultimate disappointment and the need to start over and over again because broad idealistic goals are just too far in the distance to be a good and realistic measuring stick.
I have just read RPKs piece entitled The crossroads of my life. There RPK shared his disappointment with PR:
Malaysia needs change. Initially we thought that Pakatan Rakyat would be that agent for change. But after more than two years we are not seeing Pakatan Rakyat walk the talk. And because of events like the Selangor PAS internal skirmish between the liberals and the conservatives, the Selangor DAP mud slinging, the Perak DAP public quarrel, and now the PKR party election fiasco, it appears like the three Pakatan Rakyat parties are no different from the parties in the Barisan Nasional coalition.
Can we trust Pakatan Rakyat to be that agent for change? All I can see is the same shit that we see in Barisan Nasional. The only thing is the ! shit in Barisan Nasional is bigger. But shit is still shit, whatever the size.
I am proposing a meeting of the members of the civil society movements to discuss where we go from here. The focus must be about how to seek change as laid out in The Peoples Declaration. Can the current political structure serve our purpose of seeking this change? Can Pakatan Rakyat still be that agent for change?
The vision is no less than the radical transformation of Malaysian society. The vehicle, it seems, is PR, probably with Anwar as the standard-bearer. Instead of focusing on what can be achieved, which can become the platform for further reform, RPK and others in the civil society movement have begun to be disillusioned with PR politicians. What they fail to appreciate is that having good politicians who have the nations best interests at heart, is the result of reform, not the basis for reform. Changing people is the hardest task of all.
Malaysia has known only one party rule realistically. Without very deliberate policies to ensure that good talent become political leaders, and strong personalities making sure these policies work (think Singapore), one party rule inevitably will result in a decline in the calibre of politicians (no competition). Then once poor calibre politicians form the bulk of the ruling party, corruption will be inevitable. Then the crooks will move in because it will become the way to make lots of money. By this stage it will be very difficult to change because crooks do not play by the rules. Only where there is competition in the political realm can we hope to begin to roll back the rot. Similarly, the opposition being as weak and ineffective as they have been in the past few decades (not necessarily their fault) will result in a dearth of talent willing to enter opposition politics.
Why are the civil society stalwarts so surprised that now when some form of real power and perhaps payoff! is now within the reach of those in PR that you see problems surfacing?
May I suggest that the first goal of the vision to transform Malaysia would be to give the opposition every chance to become a credible and effective alternative, in the context of the nation. The problems PR is experiencing now is inevitable. As time goes on the weaknesses in these parties, masked previously by the fact that nothing much was really at stake, will surface. The parties will have to deal with these weaknesses. Even in this process we should expect and allow for mistakes by party leaders.
Secondly may I suggest that members of the civil society raise up politicians of their own to boost the calibre of those in PR. I think that in doing so they will also learn the constraints and problems faced by politicians.
What is the time frame necessary for the above two goals to be achieved? Certainly not in two years!
I do not hide my disappointment and disgust with Malaysian politicians and Malaysian politics. I feel we can no longer trust politicians from both sides of the political divide. It may be time to take back power from the politicians and give it to the people. But how do we do that? I dont know. And I hope by December it would be clearer.
Power returns to the people when the civil service becomes truly professional and independent, when the police force, the law department, the judiciary become truly professional and independent, when the society is educated and empowered by a press that is truly professional and independent. This involves so many people that I think it will take a generation before this can become a reality. But it has no chance to take place as long as we dont deal with the cancer that is our political system today.
Letter & Opinion From Joe Public