What went wrong in Malaysia

The politically motivated prosecutions of Anwar Ibrahim and Karpal Singh on 7 and 11 March respectively, and the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 on 8 March have so far disappointed, distressed and mocked most of the Malaysians.

The first incident allowed us to see the government’s serious backpedaling on basic rights and democratic process in our country. The coincidental timing that happened for the overturned acquittal and nomination for Kajang by-election is beyond me—which clearly is a politically-motivated move to disqualify Anwar from contesting in the by-election.

And it is really disturbing to see the renewed persecution of our Opposition Leader who is currently the icon and hope for a better Malaysia. The 5-year prison sentence, overturning the 2012 acquittal, is undoubtedly a move to sideline him from politics.

The same goes to Karpal who was convicted under the draconian Sedition Act which Prime Minister Najib vowed to repeal in favor of a new National Harmony Act before GE13.

Specifically, Karpal merely expressed his legal opinion on a constitutional matter during the political crisis in Perak in 2009, saying, “In law, the decision of the Sultan of Perak can be questioned in a court of law.” Yet he was found guilty of uttering “seditious words” and was fined RM4,000 by the High Court which may disqualify him as an MP.

It’s sad for me to see these two MPs being convicted weeks after I asked my friend in KL to buy their latest biographies. If there’s one thing I’m certain of them, they are the unsung heroes of Malaysia.

The second incident revealed the serious inefficiency and incompetence of our government mechanism to the world. With Malaysia handling such an unprecedented national crisis, it followed by an unprecedented global scrutiny.

All those false leads and speculations from the mass media and social media came a halt on 24 March when Prime Minister Najib appeared on the press conference the second time. He announced that based on the new satellite data, it concluded that flight MH370 which scheduled to fly from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing “ended” in the southern Indian Ocean after using “a type of analysis never before used in an investigation of this sort” from the British aviation officials.

Malaysia Airlines said that “we have to assume beyond a reasonable doubt” that the plane went down in the ocean, far off its course to Beijing.

One cannot deny that both announcements were vague; did nothing to explain why and how the plane made an abrupt left turn back to the Peninsula Malaysia and eventually cruised west into the far southern reaches of the Indian Ocean.

Without having any debris found in the southern Indian Ocean, both announcements have perplexed and angered many. Yes – such a bizarre crisis would be difficult for any government to deal with, and a fair amount of uncertainty and confusion is likely to be expected. And one can argue that it’s unfair to blame and expect our government to handle this crisis professionally and expertly.

But how can we tolerate when press conference was announced at last minute and delayed, no questions to the PM, lack of effective communication and coordination between agencies which resulted in contrasting statements and delayed revelations?

With the same ruling BN-coalition governing without transparency and efficiency for decades, I believe it came as no surprise to Malaysians having various authorities dealing with the plane crisis – the shaman a.k.a Bomoh 1Malaysia performing rituals with coconuts and bamboo sticks to help locate the plane, Malaysia Airlines taking care of the grieving families and the government ham-handling the global glare of attention. However, I’ve gotta say, thanks to Malaysia’s good diplomatic ties, a total of 26 countries had involved in the search mission, as to date.

Throughout this whole whirlpool of crisis, Malaysia is not the only country that has learnt a lesson; the world too has leant from it. And I feel sorry for the bleeding Malaysia Airlines to have faced this terrible tragedy. Some condemn MAS. To my belief, we, Malaysians should not condemn our very own national carrier. Am I supposed to support Malaysia Airlines in becoming a third-world flag carrier? Definitely not.

No matter how the locate of flight MH370 may turn out in future, I hope Malaysia will progress better. All criticisms, cuss and mock were intended only to make Malaysia a better nation. In the end, we, Malaysians are the beneficiaries and that is one thing that we need to understand clearly.

It is entirely premature to say what happened to flight MH370. People will continue to speculate. It does however help to lay down some logical possibilities. And I’ve gotta say, I’ve read one version which got me into believing. But we will never get to the bottom of this plane mystery if they fail to locate the still-functioning black box deep down the Indian Ocean. Hopefully, they will locate it ASAP.

Nevertheless, it is not early for the BN-led government to draw lessons from their decades of unsteady performance. They must start to commit themselves to transparency and openness. This will help to recover and safeguard our already damaged reputation and most important of all, our dying democratic multiethnic society. Their alternative will not work in 2014 and I dare say Malaysia will certainly kiss Wawasan 2020 goodbye if we continue to be governed under this kind of regime.

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