There has never been a Haji Raya Aidilfitri like this one in modern-day Malaysia, when Muslims and non-Muslims gather to celebrate the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting.
Firstly, never had Ramadan sales been so poor and dispirited, with one survey estimating a plunge in Ramadan sales of as much as 20 per cent compared with last year.
Secondly, never before have national issues been so dominant during Ramadan and in Hari Raya Aidilfitri open houses – questions galore about the catalogue of financial scandals, breakdown in law and order with Low Yat race riot the latest example less than a week from Hari Raya Aidilfitri and what the future has in store for the people and the country.
But so few answers!
Top among these issues include:
• the fate of the Prime Minister; whether Datuk Seri Najib Razak could survive the political challenges to his premiership;
• whether Tun Mahathir would succeed in adding a new scalp to his collection of two Prime Ministers and two Deputy Prime Ministers;
• the RM42 billion 1MDB greatest financial scandal, the MARA property corruption scandal in Melbourne, the latest bribery scandal linkingh Najib and former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah to the Australian printing of polymer currency notes for Malaysia and other scandals affecting FELDA, Tabung Haji, etc.;
• Najib’s failure after two weeks of Wall Street Journal allegation of Prime Ministerial misconduct to answer the simple questions whether RM2.6 billion had been deposited into his personal accounts in AmBank just before the 13th general elections in 2013; where the monies came from and where they have gone to;
• deepening economic hardships and crisis with Malaysian ringgit recently hitting a 17-year low when it closed above RM3.80 to the US dollar, the burdensome Goods and Services Tax, rising inflation and other economic woes.
These concerns are reflected in Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s Hari Raya message from Sungai Buloh prison, where he rightly warned that merely removing Najib from power without real reforms will not bring about meaningful change other than benefitting certain cronies.
Anwar is right as based on past experience, removing Najib alone is “not enough”.
We do not want piecemeal solutions but a serious commitment to reform and the end of corruption.
Although no Prime Minister in nearly six decades of the nation’s history had been beset with so many mega and intractable political and economic problems with his international image suffering unprecedented battering, the betting is that Najib will survive the political onslaughts on him despite increasing calls for his resignation.
Najib must now be the most unpopular Prime Minister in the nation’s history, even more unpopular than Mahathir during ther latter’s most unpopular period when he arbitrarily sacked and imprisoned Anwar Ibrahim but Najib’s chances of political survival scores a high rating because of his command and control of government and UMNO/BN resources.
Is it possible to bring about comprehensive change in the governance and administration of the country even before the 14th General Election in two or three years’ time, unless Najib changes his whole game-plan to expedite early polls?
A very tall order indeed – unless there are at least 112 Members of Parliament, regardless of party affiliation whether in government or opposition, who are progressive and patriotic enough to unite on a common national programme to Save Malaysia from becoming a failed state because of rampant corruption, injustices and collapse of good governance.
Are there at least 112 MPs to take a common stand in the national interests and rise above political party loyalties to Save Malaysia from becoming a failed state and to re-set Malaysia on a new course of inclusive and centripetal nation-building policies and programmes?
With Anwar incarcerated in Sungai Buloh prison, is there anyone else who could surface to stitch together a “Save Malaysia” coalition with the support of at least 112 MPs to re-set the country on a new course of comprehensive change in the governance and administration of the country even before the 14th General Election – with a caretaker Prime Minister and a caretaker Cabinet?
This is no easy task as already two top leaders of an Opposition party have broken ranks, providing even stronger support to the Prime Minister than Najib is getting from his own party and coalition.
This is the most urgent call of the moment, as to whether in the “worst of times”, Malaysia can find the resilience and resources to craft the “best of times”.
There is no greater challenge than this political transformation to Malaysians celebrating this year’s Hari Raya Aidilfitri.
Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri!
Hari Raya Aidilfitri Message on Thursday, 16th July 2015