So, be careful what you wish for…

pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

A HASHTAG (#) for keeps in the Malaysian cyber sphere seems to be #Kerajaansepenggal — simply translated to be a one-term government.

It is obviously promoted by those opposed and unhappy with the current Pakatan Harapan (PH) government, as well as supporters of the Opposition.

Whether the hashtag has any merit or otherwise will only be known when the next general election is called.

But if anyone cares to give it a second thought, the hashtag itself represents the evolution of the Malaysian politics in achieving its political maturity, if not an ideal state of democratic practice.

Two general elections ago, if hashtag is fashionable, it would probably be #Hapusduapertiga to reflect the efforts of denying the government its two-thirds majority, something which the Alliance and its successor Barisan Nasional (BN) enjoyed until the 11th General Election (GE11).

In the GE12 and GE13, BN lost its two-thirds majority consecutively.

Despite the success in denying BN its two-thirds in two consecutive general elections, the then Opposition entered the GE14 without much confidence, though it was pushing for the end of BN rule.

Even BN was cocksure of retaining the government. Some even strutted around about regaining the two-thirds majority.

While they were probably swimming in their own pool of propaganda and believing it, or they were in denial, it did creep into the psyche of the supporters of PH whereby, the lily-livered and faint-hearted decided to abandon ship and denounce the Opposition.

As it turned out, what was written on the wall for BN was true and no matter how extensive the propaganda was, still would not change it.

Today, as BN, in particular Umno, struggles to find a footing in the opposite role, things are no more same old, same old anymore.

The outcome of elections on May 9, 2018, changed everything and ironically, the hashtag #Kerajaansepenggal epitomises the change.

Those in PH fears that it may come true and those opposed to it believe that it can come true.

If prior to GE14 the media, either by choice or force, took the position to defend and promote the continuity of the ruling party and prime minister, it today takes potshots and direct shots at the government and the prime minister.

Such is the vicissitudes of the life of a nation. From an Asian Tiger with guided democracy to a regional kitten with thriving democracy.

What is being pursued today is trying to rediscover the roar albeit defending the newfound liberties and democratic space.

All these are evolving within the space of just below a year and a half. But the curmudgeons, antagonists, contrarians and naysayers are already out with their shears, declaring nothing had changed now and that some things are not to their liking.

But the question that arises is how can such declaration that nothing had changed be true when they are freely expressing their thoughts without fear of losing their positions, income and even freedom?

Then again, to some, change is not a concept or an idea that permeates over a society or a nation. It has to be something that benefits or serves their interest and not an idea that inflects the collective psyche of a people.

Then, there are those that are urging for the government to revert to the time when the nation was governed with firm hand. That, however, raised concerns over its commitment to democracy.

To the advocates, dissent especially involving race and religion should be silenced with draconian measures and not go through the long-winded process ascribed by the rule of law.

While it may be effective as it had proven in the past, but that would only compound the concerns of nothing had changed. The trouble with resorting to such measures is that it would be justified as an evil necessity until or when an evil leader emerges and use these measures for evil ends.

Then the efforts leading to the 2018 general election will need to be rekindled and resuscitated. Even then, there is no guarantee that such efforts will rediscover the success of 2018. Worst, even thinking of manoeuvring or mustering such efforts may not even be possible, let alone to pursue it.

Truth be told, Malaya has come a long way since its independence and the formation of Malaysia.

Less than two years ago, not many would have imagined that a prime minister and its ruling party would be toppled and brought to court to face charges of wrongdoings and sitting on a hard bench which had others facing charges like him had sat on before.

Obviously, such thoughts are no more mere imaginations or wishful thinking. Leaders who disregard the law and take the nation’s treasury as his or her personal kitty should realise that similar fate awaits.

It is real, as real as the nation’s epiphany on the fateful day last year.


Shamsul Akmar is the editor of The Malaysian Reserve.