If there is a word to describe the current political scenario, it should be 'chronic'. It is habitual and dangerous. We thought politicians from both divide would help to push through some positive reforms by practising responsible politics.
It looks like a replay of old dirty politics again. Malaysia's negative international image is self inflicted. The fact that Anwar's sodomy trial gets higher priority over more pressing cases such as PKFZ financial scandal, the two stolen jet engines, scores of corruption cases, serious economic bottlenecks, rising crime and others suggested that this country odd choice.
Even Zulkifli Noordin's spat with his party received better coverage (front page headlines) compared to any of the issues mentioned above. Misplaced priority is eroding the role of media as a society's watchdog.
Remarkably issue such as the canning of 3 women under the anachronistic Islamic law for committing illicit sex was reported only after the sentence was meted out. We must address this serious deviation of judicial practice in this country.
Malaysia's image as a moderate and modern Muslim majority democracy is seriously being undermined by these cases including the use of 'Allah' by non-Muslims, arson attacks on places of worship, worsening racial and religious understanding and others.
While we are busy squabbling over politics, religion and race status, there are more important undercurrents which are threatening to sweep everything away;
1) Malaysia's industrial development structure may have collapsed. The lost of skilled workers and best brains (more than 15%) may have a huge impact on industrialisation in Malaysia. Skilled labour is needed to push the economy towards a higher value chain and to innovate. Only an advanced economy can help to raise the nation's income per capita. What is our hope to industrialise and innovate if we are short of brains and skills? What has been done?
2) Economic stagnation means decline if countries in the region continue to improve. Malaysia has not found a new economic strategy to move the economy ahead. Najib's New Economy Model is expected to receive lukewarm support from his own party. Right winged groups such as Perkasa have warned against the restructuring of Malay affirmative action or NEP. Without seriously promoting innovation and meritocracy Malaysia does not have the necessary inertia to push itself ahead of the pack in the region. Feet dragging from the current regime means there will not be any serious policy reform in the next few years.
3) Singapore's new resorts will pose a threat to Malaysia's service industry. The new resorts and other supporting industries are expected to create more than 50,000 jobs. Malaysia's best in the industry will be tempted to capitalize on these opportunities. This will result in more brain drain from the country. Malaysia's service and hospitality industry will have to depend more on unskilled foreign labour which may lower service quality.
4) A lack of industrial development means the economy remains narrow based. Not enough jobs are created to keep our best people in the country. Highly skilled people may not be able to find the right job to stay put. Hence, it is a chicken and egg situation. Without enough opportunities and new industries created, it is difficult to keep skilled people in the country.
5) Malaysia is still practicing nepotism and unhealthy racial policy. Growing conservatism is a push off to most investors. Even local investors are deserting the country and investing elsewhere.
6) Najib's 1Malaysia policy should really look at ways and possibilities to work with the other coalition. It should not be just a mere slogan to attract votes. Without a real unity and focus on the real socio-economic issues, the decline may reach a stage where is it might be irreversible.
Some have asked about Malaysia's prospects. I am tempted to tell them that change may be beyond our lifetime if the current situation persists. My advice would have been "run if you still can".
But we must not give up on this country. Bad politics is the culprit. The majority community must see beyond the superficial to know that the current practice is hurting them more than helping.