These are trying times. Yet they are also interesting times. Interesting, because to borrow an English phrase, the game’s afoot.
And whats more interesting, nobody actually knows what the game is but from the look of it, we shall know pretty soon as it slowly makes its way out to the open.
How soon will it be? Within the next five years, from the look of it. And with the next general election sandwiched in between.
But then again, the game has been ongoing for at least for a few decades, and in between at least three general elections have been held. So whats another few more years.
What game you might ask? And when did start?
In all honesty, in my humble opinion, the game started the day the grand old man of Malaysian politics, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed (Tun M), publicly and unexpectedly announced his resignation as both President of the ruling party UMNO and Prime Minister of Malaysia.
Of course, he had to withdraw his resignation after being publicly persuaded there and then to do so by members of UMNO’s Supreme Council. Talk about drama. Even the Dallas scriptwriters could not have scripted it any better, and they thought the ‘who shot JR?’ was the pinnacle of drama.
After all, it was so unexpected and the timing caught everybody by surprise.
To use the common man’s language, coarse as it may be but so apt under the circumstances, everybody, and I do mean everybody, were caught napping with their pants down to their ankles. Even members of the Opposition. If they would admit to that.
The conventional wisdom then was that Tun M would continue on and would most probably pass away in office.
And that would most probably take years as Tun M was seen to be still in the best of health despite having had a bypass several years before that.
Everybody knew that the Tun M would not and could not last forever but things were cosy and everybody was comfortable, safe in the knowledge that the Old Man was up there, managing the country. Even the Opposition, if only they will admit it.
A succession plan had been put into place in anticipation of such an event that had unfolded but then again, the Grand Old Man of Malaysian politics has never taken kindly to hints that its time to make way for younger leaders, never mind a suggestion voiced out in public, no matter how diplomatic and reverential the language may be.
But judging by the big names that were part of the succession plan who had fallen by the wayside or out of favour, to be included in the succession plan seems to be like signing up for the soon-to-be-out-of-a-job market to anybody interested. Bar one.
And we all know what happened to him. Later. Perhaps.
But resign the Old Man did, with the overwhelming thanks of a grateful nation. Seriously grateful for who would have thought Tun M could drag this country out of the predicament that was the Asian Financial Crisis, by the scruff of the neck and in so doing, go against all the practices and wisdom of almost all financial gurus and experts.
Who would have thought that the country’s agro-based economy would have been totally replaced by a industrialized-based economy within a decade or so?
Who would have thought that Malaysia would have been that adventurous and that forward thinking by phasing in an economy that was based on knowledge and information technology?
The excitement surrounding the grand design was so contagious that even the Singapore PAP-led government was getting nervous of the possibility of being replaced as THE IT-savvy country in the region.
Tun M’s accomplishments as Prime Minister were so many and numerous that it was safe to say that Tun M was THE MAN. Go to any part of the world and they would probably have a slight problem telling you where exactly Malaysia is but tell them that you come from the land of the Petronas Twin Towers and have Tun M as your leader, everybody would know who or what you are – you are Malaysian.
Upon his retirement, the so-called Anointed One did not get anointed having suffered the ignominy of being relieved/sacked/fired (depending from which side of the political fence you are from) from the position of Deputy Prime Minister by the Old Man himself, and having suffered in silence as he watched another of Penang’s political sons, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, took the oath of high office and walked into The Prime Minister’s Department as the 5th Prime Minister of Malaysia, came out with a vengeance, doing everything possible to claim the position for himself.
Now being Prime Minister is not like what is portrayed in Yes Prime Minister. Or is it? But being The Man of the moment, everybody look up to you and look at what you do and how you do it.
I once remembered making a statement at a senior level executive seminar, saying that whoever takes over from Tun M will have a VERY big pair of shoes to fill.
And to make it worse, whether he will be allowed to fill those shoes? Question is, must it be the same old shoes that the new man-in-charge has to fill? Or he fills his own pair, metaphorically speaking?
Well, fast forward to 2015. One Prime Minister down (it’s no secret that he was forced out of office no matter how you spin it) and it seems now that there’s an attempt to force another one out as well. And a very serious attempt at that. And we all thought that was the case for sitting Deputy Prime Ministers.
The ironic thing is that ‘it was all done for the love of the country and for the love of UMNO’. But is it really? If that is so, then the whole plan must have gone pear-shaped for it is UMNO who is now suffering and be extension, the Malays.
Not the so-called elite but the normal folks. Remember them? The ones who have to work very hard and struggle to put food on the table for the family, put the clothes on their backs, schooled their kids and all this, in a climate of insecurity, both in body and in spirit, and a rising cost of living.
Without UMNO, where would the Malays be? Who would look after their interests, never mind the other races. And without UMNO, what is to become of Barisan Nasional?
We would be deluding ourselves if we say the ‘alliance’ of PKR, DAP and PAS would be the alternative. But if you are talking about the alternative to having peace and harmony, mutual respect, and the guarantee of the rights of all concerned including the Malays and the Bumiputras, then the answer would be a resounding YES.
In my humble opinion, no Prime Minister worth his salt can be expected to be a rubber-stamp Prime Minister. It makes a mockery of that exalted position of high office.
In the same vein, no two Prime Ministers are the same, as the technology to make clones of yourself has not yet being perfected, even on animals (to the best of my knowledge).
And we have not considered yet the ethical and moral ramifications of such a technological feat, never mind losing the ‘fun’ factor of trying to procreate.
Times do change and the clock does tick. Priorities have to be re-assessed and the best of plans have to be modified. But it seems attitudes have remained the same.
Backstabbing, gossiping, spreading lies and rumours, pitting one against the other are some of the shenanigans that we have seen grown over the years. Ironically, with the help of the very tools that we thought would make our society more informed and knowledgeable.
It was Facebook and Youtube, and today its Whatsapp, Wechat, Telegram and other forms of social media. Printed media is OUT, so decreed the Opposition as its government controlled. Well, with whats happening now, cyberspace is Opposition controlled and we can see what’s happening there.
That is, if we care enough to look and brave enough to acknowledge. So what is the difference? Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. Or is it the other way around?
Yes, these are interesting times. Yet they are also worrying and frightening times. With keyboard warriors pounding away in the safety of their homes and in the anonymity of the identities, these are indeed worrying and frightening times.