Friday Jottings: The demise of stale reforms

FIRST, the tell-tale signs were floating in the air, then the writings started appearing on the wall and now, what went around seems to be coming around.

And it’s probably time to consider reformati, a play of Malay words between reformasi (reformation) and mati (dead) be added to the lexicon of the Malay language trove.

A trust deficit towards Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (picture), the Prime Minister, has indeed widened and his supporters are not doing anything to reverse the situation but are instead, contributing to the damage further.

In many ways than not, the blame lies with the supporters as much as the PM himself.

From the word go, after Anwar appointed Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, then scandalous and facing dozens of cases in court as his deputy, his supporters bent backwards to justify it.

The justifications were indeed self-serving – that Zahid’s support was needed to thwart the green wave and the only way for Anwar to secure the PM-ship.

Little did they realise that it was a compromise made to secure power. Simply put, it is Machiavellian at its worst – akin to appointing a wolf to guard the chicken coop.

Though hanging like an albatross around the neck, the nation and Anwar’s supporters moved on, believing and trying to convince themselves that it was an evil necessity that would be supplanted by good governance bringing in better tidings.

Unfortunately, the optimism was truly misplaced as Anwar embarked on a reroute away from the reform path he promised, which journey started a quarter of a century ago after he was sacked as the Deputy PM or in pledges made more recently in his party’s manifestoes and election campaigns.

His volte face on the PM not taking up the Finance portfolio told what he thought of the manifesto and pledges.

And that it needed the likes of Rafizi Ramli, a lead critic of the PM being the Finance Minister during Najib Razak’s administration, affirmed how compromised they had become apart from the emergence of a new breed of hypocrites.

Everything seemed to start to fall into place, albeit in the wrong place, when Nurul Izzah was appointed into the Finance Ministry, cronyism or rather, nepotism started rearing its ugly head.

With that, reforms or rather the promised reforms continue to slide down south and what makes it worse, there doesn’t seem to be any serious attempt to check the slide, let alone pursue them.

Alongside the self-destructive mode are similarly unsavoury dramas on the side-lines such as the retention of anti-corruption head honcho Tan Sri Azam Baki, personally and individually identified by Anwar and Rafizi and the rest of the reform hordes as an antithesis to busting corruption.

But of course, that was before Anwar and his reformers occupied Putrajaya.

Today, Azam is accepted as the paramount graft buster and his brother’s use of his account to trade shares is as uncontaminated as that of a pasar malam peddler.

Then there are the cases of the yet-to-be-seen, let alone sail littoral combat ships (LCS). What was once scandalous is today innocuous.

Those are some of the backtrackings on tangible issues, neither perceived nor conjured.

Even in terms of the philosophy of reforms are being compromised without remorse or shame.

The refusal to extend allocation to opposition members of parliament (MPs) unless they support the PM is anti-thesis to democratic reforms.

Anwar’s choir boys arguing that the MPs were only required to discuss the allocations with the PM contradicts Anwar’s contention on why should such allocations be extended to the opposition MPs if they continued to criticise and curse him.

To make matters more nauseating, opposition MPs who declared they had decided to support Anwar saw the allocations hastily disbursed to them – it smacked of corruption by whatever measures.

Enter the brown-nosing youths of Anwar’s political vehicle who lodged police reports against an activist, Badrul Hisham Shaharin, better known as CheguBard, who used to be from their reformasi midst, for calling Anwar a dajjal, the equivalent of the Antichrist.

Either they were not born yet when Anwar started his reformasi movement in 1998 or they decided to take brown nosing to an unassailable echelon, the fact is that using disgusting labels on political opponents was the movement’s original.

Lest they forget or be unaware, Mahafiraun and Mahazalim were among the copyrights they had reserved to the then PM.

The point is that, when the supporters and even Anwar were reminded of these acts which were anti-thesis to reforms and democratic practices, they were always quick to in turn remind critics of previous administrations indulged in them as well.

This is where they lost the plot.

Anwar and his supporters had no right to such defence as their political platforms were to clear up the nation of such practices committed by their predecessors.

Simply put, they had urged voters to rid the previous administrations and leaders if the populace wanted to rid the nation of such practices. In essence, they had styled themselves as the saviour to the nation which had been corrupted by those practices.

So, they are held to higher standards and expectations, not because the nation is delusional but because they promised the best from the government.

Instead, they reneged on the promises of reforms and practised what they had condemned and justified it as merely doing what the previous governments and leaders had done.

Nothing changed and Anwar continues with his rhetoric of being the leader for the downtrodden and displaced. It may have caught the imaginations of the naive in the past, but today, even the most gullible find it unattractive and can see through it.

For that, there is reforbasi, another word from the critics, that could be added to the lexicon of the Malay glossary. It is again a play of Malay words relating to reformasi and basi.

Reformasi remains as reformation. Basi simply means stale. – pic BERNAMA


  • Shamsul Akmar is an editor at The Malaysian Reserve.

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