Malaysia is no Egypt

by Tricia Yeoh
25 April 2013 – 07:54pm

NEGATIVE advertisements are flooding mainstream newspapers in this very electric season of the 13th general election campaign, but many fail to convince. One full-page advertisement caught my attention, paid for by the MCA, a component party of the Barisan Nasional.

Its title reads “Ubah (Change) for the worst? What can we learn from the Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, Syria and Bahrain free fall?” and describes what it imagines to have taken place in these countries during and after the Arab Spring.

The advertisement outlines the following series of events: “People get fed up with the government; Ruling party is forced to step down; Civil war in the streets and chaos in the country; Political instability, economic turmoil; Economy goes down, unemployment goes up; People get fed up with new government; Want to go back to the previous government.”

These are incredible generalisations about the named countries to create an argument against changing the government in Malaysia.

Change they did

I had the privilege of attending the 9th Aljazeera International Documentary Film Festival last week in Doha, Qatar, where my documentary on the late Teoh Beng Hock was competing. At the festival, documentary makers had the chance to share their stories from around the world.

Many films portrayed stories of hope and liberation juxtaposed against oppressive regimes, which included the Tahrir Square uprising in Egypt.

In the documentary After the Storm: A New Beginning for Egypt’s Economy, it was clear that although Egypt continues to struggle with poverty and unemployment, these were caused by decades of the previous regime’s economic mismanagement which distorted competition and benefited the wealthy at the expense of the poor.

Second, it also showed how it is precisely because of the revolution that locals were now more optimistic and able to take control of their own economic situation.

By placing this poorly thought-through advertisement, is the MCA then implying that Egyptians ought to have been content with their previous leader Hosni Mubarak, and continue living under such appalling conditions?

This would have made them out to be weak and spineless, supporting a regime that would shamelessly continue to subject them to atrocities.

Different circumstances

Equating Malaysia to Egypt is inaccurate, since both countries operate under different circumstances and contexts.

Although this country is suffering from a heavy national debt and tremendously unhealthy levels of wastage and corruption, it is nowhere close to the conditions in which the Egyptian uprising took place.

In fact, each point laid out in the ad can easily be rebutted. First, Mubarak was forced to step down due to a people’s revolution; in Malaysia, any change in government would take place as part of the normal processes of democratic elections.

Second, it is presumptuous to predict that there would be chaos in the country should there be a change, since Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has already committed to there being a peaceful transition of power should it come to pass.

One hopes he will also ensure all accompanying government agencies like the police and military would assist in this.

Third, the ad assumes that the economy would get worse under a new government. The financial performance of Pakatan Rakyat state governments over the past five years speaks for itself, with budget surpluses and higher savings than ever before.

Bank Negara Malaysia, Securities Commission, Bursa Malaysia, and other fundamental institutions would also play their roles to responsibly ensure that no major shake-up would take place, safeguarding interests of investors and businesses.

Finally, the ad says that as a result of these upheavals, people would get fed up and want to return to the previous government, to which anyone who believes in free and fair elections would say, “By all means!”

Should there be dissatisfaction in the new government, it is the voters’ prerogative to change them when the time comes.

In the documentary, the filmmakers do not present a rosy Egypt – far from it, since there is much work to be done, reversing years of deep structural failure in the government and the economy.

Perhaps if there is a lesson to be learnt from their story it is that first, when the time is ripe for things to change for the better, this will be inevitable since it rides on the sentiments of the people. But second, that when such change does come, people must acknowledge the difficulty of correcting deeply entrenched wrongs.

Overhauling a system will not take place overnight, and so Malaysians must be willing to persevere over the long run as a new government works out the many intricate problems of a bureaucracy that has been for so long under one political coalition – accompanied by its problematic systems and structures.

Until polling results are known on May 6, perhaps political parties ought to present more rational and intellectually responsible advertisements to the electorate.

  1. #1 by Albert Choong on Sunday, 28 April 2013 - 12:22 pm

    These goon leaders from Make Chinese Angry party think that Malaysians are literate but without critical thinking power! And we will believe their stupid propaganda that the Arab Spring phenomena in the Arab countries will bring more harm than good if it happens in Malaysia in the 13th. GE!
    We do it the Malaysian Way! The Malaysian Spring has been coming forth strongly since the last GE and will be fully groomed to a FULL MALAYSIAN SPRING on 05-05 by all loyal and true MALAYSIANS! ABCD! Any But Cap Dacing!

  2. #2 by SENGLANG on Sunday, 28 April 2013 - 1:54 pm

    Why UBAH? To stop the rot. I have one good reason to UBAH.

    PKFZ, one is enough for me to have the conviction that only UBAH is the solution.

    The “SOME UNTOLD STORIES ” will be remain untold until UBAH become reality.

    From now on just being FOCUS AND GET OUT ON 505. VOTE IT RIGHT INI KALI LAH

  3. #3 by mauriyaII on Sunday, 28 April 2013 - 2:09 pm

    The founding fathers of our country had a noble and farsighted vision.They achieved independence from the British through a give and take policy and hard work.

    After the late Tunku and Tun Razak, the leaders of UMNO BARU/BN hijacked the economy for themselves. They have become so used to wealth and power, all at the expense of poor Malaysians that they dare not face defeat which is staring at them in the 13th GE.

    The UMNO/BN had along played the divide and rule game with fear mongering and divisive policies. The component parties in the BN government danced to the tune of the ultras in UMNO BARU because they did not want to be marginalized. They did not care for the members who elected them to represent their cause.

    All the leaders of MCA, MIC, GERAKAN, PPP and other small parties in Peninsular Malaysia only cared for the crumbs falling off the UMNO table. They did not represent the masses that elected them. They were so fearful of the evil dictator and his various nefarious schemes to make himself, his family and cronies filthy rich that they did not lift a finger to question the official apartheid policies that were implemented under the guise of NEP.

    Now when the ghost of an Arab Spring appears in the horizon, they are making unfounded allegations against the OPPOSITION. The leading newspapers under MSM such as Utusan, the Star and the tv channels are questioning the intelligence of Malaysians. They have become tools of the government to oppress the people further.

    Not a day goes by without idiotic write-ups in those papers. They are painting the UMNO/BN government as ANGELS and the OPPOSITION as devils, not capable of ruling the country.

    Repeated lies, distribution of pornographic cds might have worked before but the rakyat are better informed now. So if they think that all the stupid and moronic advertisements in the MSM is going to win them the 13th GE, they are as stupid as the masterminds behind these moves.

    The 13th GE is for the OPPOSITION to take over Putrajaya. The RAHMAN prophesy will come true. That will bring about a NEW ERA for ALL MALAYSIANS.

  4. #4 by Loh on Sunday, 28 April 2013 - 2:45 pm

    Najib has tried very hard to convince people that the government cares about the ordinary Malaysians, for the sake of getting their votes. But Najib has failed to prove to Malaysians that he is free from the clutch of Mahathir and Mahathir’s cronyism system of government. Najib even went out of his way to prove that he took Mamakthir’s order to field Ibrahim Ali against PAS by creating the first case in UMNO history of not fielding a candidate for election.

    Najib said that his BN is trying to redeem itself after losing a few MP seats and a few state governments. Najib will do a proper reform if he loses the federal election. Let us give him a chance to do the real reform by voting BN out on 505.

  5. #5 by Winston on Sunday, 28 April 2013 - 3:00 pm

    Well, well, well!
    The reasons why the ruling party wants to hold on to power are very obvious for everyone to see!!
    They can carry on doing more of the same old, same old!!
    And the icing on the cake is that they will not have to answer for their crime spree during their five-over- decades-tenure of Putrajaya!!
    If they think that they are smart, Malaysians must prove the them that as voters, they are no longer gullible!!!
    Prove this in GE13!!!!
    JUST DO IT!!!!!!!!!!

  6. #6 by john on Tuesday, 30 April 2013 - 3:25 pm

    This MCA (Malu Cina Association) has become so desperate as to threaten the chinese community to vote them in. Otherwise, they (as part of ruling coalition) of all other party should assure all of a fair, free, clean election. They just thinking for themselves – own self interest only !.
    Go fly kite !.

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