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Too much is at stake

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There is a growing consensus that we cannot allow things to carry on as they are if we want to prevent the country from plunging into an abyss, writes Anil Netto.

This coming general election promises to be a watershed in our country’s history. There is a growing consensus that we cannot allow things to carry on as they are if we want to prevent the country from plunging into an abyss.

Here’s what is at stake: We all know the record on corruption has been abysmal. That billions of ringgit have been lost is common knowledge in coffee shops the length and breadth of the country.

Thus far we have been saved by our rich natural resources especially oil. But the oil is running out now. Unfortunately, the fat cats have not stopped feeding from the trough.

The opportunity costs have been tremendous. Ours could have been a land of milk and honey but alas, a minority especially the cronies and well-connected politicians have grown fabulously wealthy while the a huge number of workers toil away at low wages. These wages are further suppressed by middlemen importing migrant workers, many of whom are paid even lower wages in return for working even longer hours.

Neo-liberal policies have worsened the situation. Privatisation and corporatisation have forced Malaysians to pay more for services – education, health care, utilities – that had previously been provided free or at little cost. The neglect of food production has led to higher food prices. And after the general election, we can expect GST, an electricity tariff hike and the possibility of national health insurance premiums (while government spending on public health care remains miserly).

Not surprisingly, the gap between the rich and the poor has grown wider over the years, and this may have contributed to all kinds of social problems (Richard Wilkinson, The Spirit Level). The latest round of civil service pay rises, now held back for review, aggravates this trend.

Our economic indicators are worrying. Household debt has soared as ordinary Malaysians struggle to cope with higher prices using easy credit from credit cards, housing loans and car loans. Meanwhile, the country’s external debt stands at RM296bn and the central government debt at RM441bn – and rising. Not only that, we are faced with persistent fiscal deficits.

How long can those entrusted with running the country continue to keep piling on debt? That hasn’t stopped them from dishing out more and more cash ahead of the general election.

Let’s not forget the host of reforms needed in a whole range of institutions that are supposed to be independent and professional but quite frankly are not. We also need to get rid of all oppressive laws and unleash the creative potential of the diverse communities of Malaysians instead of worsening the brain drain through ill-conceived or discriminatory policies.

Too much is at stake. Malaysians must wake up and stop the rot – before it’s too late.

Anil Netto is honorary treasurer of Aliran.

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

AGENDA RAKYAT - Lima perkara utama
  1. Tegakkan maruah serta kualiti kehidupan rakyat
  2. Galakkan pembangunan saksama, lestari serta tangani krisis alam sekitar
  3. Raikan kerencaman dan keterangkuman
  4. Selamatkan demokrasi dan angkatkan keluhuran undang-undang
  5. Lawan rasuah dan kronisme
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25 Jan 2012 7.57am

Anil, “Ah Cheap Kor” just doing his job, I mean Cheap stuff like intimidation and suppression It’s part and parcel on these low down …. Can’t wait for GE, that’s all. Patient…

25 Jan 2012 12.50am

To Antares,Isma n Anil, ” To Be or Not To Be “

24 Jan 2012 1.19am

Anybody who isn’t a moron or completely corrupt (or both) would fully agree with Anil’s “anilysis” – and without any doubt all of us who love this land must reclaim our courage, dignity, integrity and sovereignty as the true source of political power, as the voting rakyat. We are at the same aware that those who at present control the PDRM, the armed forces and Petronas are more than likely to cling ferociously to power (like Bashar al-Assad of Syria) and that they are stepping efforts to inject anxiety and fear into a generally docile and peaceable populace. This is one of those moments in our collective adventure when we have to make a leap of faith and take a bold step forward – even when confronted by a tank, just as the brave citizens of Prague did just before the liberation of Czechoslovakia from Soviet control. At the same time, let us acknowledge that the current abysmal state of affairs cannot be blamed entirely on a bunch of crooked politicians and their greedy corporate cronies. Each of us has to upgrade our personal integrity and… Read more »

24 Jan 2012 9.18am
Reply to  Antares

Indeed, your last point is extremely profound. How can we not elect a government that’s not a perfect reflection of ourselves? But now that we’ve (mostly) woken up, lets all of us who can, vote in the new government that reflects the new view we have of ourselves. I am extremely irritated with the low level of intelligence perpetuated by our present government. A reflection of this can be seen in the really bad English displayed in numerous posters linked to the authorities.

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