22nd August 2019
UNITED WE STAND, DIVIDED WE FALL
Our nation is at a critical period. We are faced with numerous challenges, many inherited from the previous administration plus new ones, and if not handled well may cause our nation and people to suffer a long period of poverty at best, or leads us to a national breakup and economic chaos falling into a 4thworld status at worst. The last thing we need is for someone to publicly declare that Tanah Melayu is for the Malays. Wisdom has escaped Perlis Mufti Datuk Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin when he did just that in a recent video sermon.
No one is disputing there is a dominant race in national identity, as what Asri postulated. Rather than fanning fire to the already high tempo of socio-religious discourse, he should urge all Malaysians to stay united to face the economic challenges ahead. The previous administration that governed more than 60 years with a near monopoly of a dominant race (if that is what Asri asked for) in public administration had fumbled big time. Scandals were aplenty, from Bank Bumiputra Finance in the 1980’s to the mother of all scandals, the 1MBD. Yet, Asri said little or not at all against the perpetrators of those scandals.
The first year of Pakatan Harapan’s governance saw too much race and religion politicking stirred by opposition parties to derail planned reforms, and frustrated the performance of the young and not so experienced ministers. It caused the PH government to lose its bearing. There was no clear narrative of where our nation was heading. A whole year was directionless and lost.
Our Prime Minister has now announced the ‘Shared Prosperity’ concept, setting a clear direction forward. On 9 May 2019, commemorating the first anniversary of GE14, Tun Dr Mahathir spelt out the aims of ‘Share Prosperity’ and said, “To provide a decent standard of living to all Malaysians…. to ensure that all people will benefit from the nation’s wealth fairly and equitably…. that all these initiatives under its promises will be fulfilled so that all future achievements will be based on inclusivity, justice so that the nation’s wealth will be shared by all based on the spirit of shared prosperity”.
Distinctive words from the stated aim are – fairly and equitably, inclusivity, and justice. Our Prime Minister has set a tone for a new socio-economic-political construct. All cabinet members and political leaders are expected to comprehend the concept and more importantly what it entails. The learned Perlis Mufti is expected to comprehend too.
By stating that China is for Chinese, India is for Indians, Western countries are for white people, and Tanah Melayu is for Malays; Asri has instigated an unwelcomed mockery that may rip further our fragile inter-ethnic relations, and the Semenanjung-Sabah and Sarawak distrust.
We in Patriot are concerned about our economic situation and how badly our people will be affected in the impending world economic downturn. Our national debt and liabilities is now at RM 1.1 trillion, increased from RM 1.06 trillion in June 2018. Starting this year our gross export has begun to decline and this is worrying because our export has been for years a major contributor to our national income. Our household debt to GDP ratio is 83% and the highest in Asean region. If recession hits, and quite likely will be, there will be skyrocketing bad debts. Furthermore, the cost of living pressure for those in the B40, especially in essential items such as food and housing is a perpetual burden, and will continue to get worse.
Patriot sees an only way forward, which is for all Malaysians to be united and capitalised on lending each other strength. The spirit of ‘Shared Prosperity’ has no room for parochial mentality. Absolutely no room for racism and exclusivity attitude. Malaysia is for all Malaysians, and we be wise to know - united we stand, divided we fall.
BG Dato Mohamed Arshad Raji (Rtd)
President, Persatuan Patriot Kebangsaan