It takes courage to be a Malaysian citizen.
It takes a lot of guts to be a member of an opposition party in Malaysia, but it takes more courage to be a member of the rakyat, who are desperate for change for a better Malaysia.
Yesterday, the Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Noor Rashid Ibrahim, announced that people who gather to “force and threaten the government to do something are wrong”. He warned that they could be charged with sedition.
Noor Rashid did not explain what people should do if their complaints are not resolved. The failure of the government to listen to the people has convinced them that they can make themselves heard only by participating in marches.
Instead of fighting crime, the police monitor marches across the nation and spend time chasing tweeters. The people want an end to injustice and corruption; they want to mend their fractured society. Najib Abdul Razak has failed to address the 1MDB scandal, and he offered no explanation on the allegations of the impropriety of his wealth. He has allowed Umno-Baru politicians and lawyers to make a mockery of the judiciary with their obscene roadshows.
The rakyat’s support is in great demand by both the ruling and opposition coalitions, but who does the ordinary citizen turn to when he has a complaint? The ruling party will sweep the issue under the carpet. If he approaches the opposition, it will politicise the issue.
Money issues are fuelling the debate across Malaysia. The majority of the rakyat seem to have no concern about the poor who are entitled to financial aid like 1BRIM, but many object strongly when the system is abused, as can happen with the NEP.
Individuals who are well connected, or “ada kabel ke atas” as the Malays would say, enjoy the luxury of setting up crony companies. Their existence is assured as long as financial gratification and other perks are channelled to the people in power.
Let us take, for example, a person who wants to bid for a government tender. He knows he has the necessary skills and experience to complete the job on time. He quotes a fair price to do the work.
Sources allege that one of two things can happen.
The person who has made the bid will receive a visit from a representative of a politician or the director of the relevant department “for further “discussions”. Over an expensive meal, the representative will request a hefty deposit – to “secure” the contract. The deal will include a share of the profits to be paid regularly to the person who facilitated the tender. This practice has alienated many legitimate companies, including bumiputera companies, from participating in government projects.
Alternatively, when the person who tendered the bid finds that he has been unsuccessful, he then becomes aware that the exercise of inviting different companies to bid was a facade. It was to give a semblance of transparency when, from the start, a politician and the department director had already decided to award the contract to a crony company.
This is fraud. It is stealing the rakyat’s money with the collusion of people in authority. The price of the job will have been inflated to pay off the co-conspirators. Short cuts will be taken in construction, so that less money is paid to the workforce, cheaper goods are used and safety precautions ignored. The results of poor workmanship, like collapsing structures, come later.
It is not just about money. What about the people who are denied true justice or who fail to secure a fair investigation when family members die in mysterious circumstances in government premises? What about children who are denied educational opportunities? What about unresolved murders? Where do all these people go to voice their concerns?
Tomorrow, Malaysian Progressives in the United Kingdom will be holding a demonstration at the iconic location of Old PalaceYard in London in front of the British Parliament. It is to highlight injustices in Malaysia. It is a peaceful demonstration to proclaim our right to better governance. It is also about restoring the integrity of the rule of law. It is about making a stand.