The people are suffering...
The people are suffering. The most disheartening thing for a member of a contemporary society to hear is for their government to say that there is nothing any of us can do about it. This is the message conveyed by the most recent, desperate moves taken by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and his government.
New restrictions are vaguely disseminated to the public and here we are, left to continue suffering in our own way. Some of us suffer from the economic uncertainties brought on by the pandemic, left unanswered by this government. Unemployment, poverty, and survival haunt our citizen’s dreams of prosperity.
Others suffer in the area of mental health. Anxiety, loneliness, and fear leave us all vulnerable to the damage of xenophobia and anger. We long to unite with friends and family. And some of us are trapped beyond the restrictions of the movement control order (MCO). Be that situations of domestic abuse, the isolation of cyberbullying, or even the hopelessness of poverty.
And we must not forget those we have lost. Almost 600 deaths are 600 deaths too many. Our lives have been put on hold for almost one year, and this has had a profound effect. Many of us do not know if we will ever be able to go back to normal, and perhaps we do not.
But what will there be on the other side of this? Will your career still exist? Will our students be able to recover from this year, to pick up and complete their educational trajectory? What future can we look forward to? And this government has offered no hope.
The unity offered through collective suffering is not enough to bring a nation back from a crisis of this magnitude. A new unity must arise from strong leadership, effective governance and a people who are true in their government, in the spirit of democracy, and in each other.
In times of crisis, people need transparency and reassurance, not what this minority government gives them. Not these sporadically planned announcements that give no clarity, no planning, and no sympathy for the people’s needs.
Instead, they incite panic as clouds gather. Muhyiddin has plunged this country into a sea of contradictions. MCO is becoming an annual exercise in futility, robbed of the meaning that gives life to tradition, leaving only the shell of a custom that produces no results. What was once called conditional, looks more and more permanent. The recovery was anything but.
So, we are back to the point where we started. The physicist Albert Einstein put it best when he said “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. Muhyiddin and his government have brought Malaysia to the brink of insanity.
What the government ought to be doing is helping the people to again believe in themselves and the strength we possess as a united nation. Malaysia should be able to enjoy the fruits of flattening the curve and being a global leader in the struggle against Covid-19.
Instead, the government has patronised the people. Treating them as insolent children in need of punishment. No, the people are what makes Malaysia. And if a government cannot trust its people, then how can it expect its people to trust the government in return. Let alone follow the constantly evolving SOPs that they hand out.
The government should be offering a consistent, detailed plan. A plan that calls for actions, holds itself to milestones and goals. When we all see ourselves as stakeholders in building our future, then we hold each other accountable, and this is the beautiful spirit of democracy brought to life.
While the present government waits for change to come to it, the strategy needs to be effecting change today so that tomorrow may be better. The present government asks us all to sacrifice, for we are all in this together, yet the government gives no evidence that it suffers along with the people, that it actually stands with the rakyat.
With each passing day, the restoration of this trust gains a new hurdle under the leadership of Muhyiddin. This reckless and desperate declaration of emergency, devoid of rational basis, places a chasm between the people and their government.
Where the fear of the blurring line between democracy and dictatorship is upheld by Muhyiddin’s appeal to “trust him”. A trust that withers by the day with each MP withdrawing their support.
Can trust even be appealed to as it has become obvious that this emergency has less to do with combating the pandemic than clinging to power that, we must remember, was attained through an illegitimate backdoor government?
Are we to trust the words of an individual who betrayed his prime minister, his party (and by extension his coalition), and most criminally the trust and mandate of the rakyat?
Clarity and assurance are the first steps in rectifying this negligence. The people should know that their government hears their voice and is working to solve their issues.
The government should be promoting the advancements of science and offering a level of reason to the public discourse that dismisses the false claims and conspiracy theories instead of muddying them with shadowy uncertainty.
Once communication is clear, then our actions need to embody a nationwide effort to combat the virus and return economic confidence. This will not be easy, and no one person can do it alone. More sacrifices stand to be made, but with good governance and restored trust, we can collectively weather this storm.
I have announced our intention to appeal to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to defend the constitution and the rakyat from this egregious abuse of power. Also, our legal team has been instructed to prepare the application to challenge the prime minister and the government of Malaysia on their baseless declaration of a state of emergency.
I implore you all, my fellow Malaysians, to not despair. In our diversity, our multicultural society, and the creative contrast we have at our disposal, the best of all possible worlds. We must continue following SOPs, most importantly wearing our facemasks properly, maintaining proper social distancing, and washing our hands. If you can stay home, please do.
We have to keep ourselves healthy to relieve the burden on our healthcare system and the true heroes that keep it afloat against unsurmountable pressure. Random acts of kindness are the easiest and most effective demonstrations of our unified commitment towards actual solutions and a better tomorrow.
I implore us all to do your part and for our government to seek the restoration of trust that has tragically waned in the past months since this virus befell us. For the people are suffering.
But we must not lose hope that our sacrifices will pay off soon enough. We must not pass over the lessons to be taken from this past year, but work to constantly improve ourselves and each other. - Anwar Ibrahim,mk