Tuesday, May 01, 2012

People's Day

Today is International Labour Day recognizing the contribution of employees in producing goods and services to sustain the society and economy. I join them and salute them for their hard work in bringing income home to their families, feeding and educating their kids and even supporting their aged parents. I also salute the employers for providing opportunities to the community to become employed. Together they form vital partnerships that make a nation prosperous. Since nearly everyone works, except those who are ill, handicapped, retired or super wealthy perhaps we should celebrate today generally as People's Day and rejoice in our collective strength in making our societies stronger and more liveable. If only the governments know how to harness their skills, knowledge and experience to develop the nation. After all it is the people who make up a nation and a nation is great, or mediocre, because of the way their people are.

But great nations, and great people, also suggest good governance, and poor nation and mediocre people, bad governance. A nation that fail to grow in stature and wealth must blame on its governments, and ultimately on its people for not choosing their government wisely, if they have the choice. A nation where its people are disenchanted, angry and felt uncared is a nation awaiting implosion. Malaysia has never seen a public rally the size and anger like the BERSIH 3.0 movement last Saturday. Reports estimated 250,000 to 300,000 supporters turned up as compared to about 50,000 at BERSIH 2.0 last July 9. Publc rallies point to failure of a government in managing the people's welfare. While BERSIH 3.0 is about electoral reform, the underlying supporting causes why people participated is also to vent their protest against the government for failing to contain a rising inflation that is not cancelled through higher income especially for those at the entry levels and engaging in unskilled work. Even the government's announcement of minimum wage of RM900 and RM800 for West and East Malaysia respectively is met with rejection because they are unrealistically low. But how can employers afford to pay higher without driving some out of business due to inefficiency and low productivity? For years we've tried to create a trained and productive workforce and failed and this failure now haunt us.

When people are angry their natural reaction is vent their frustrations at the authority. So my take is BERSIH 3.0 will lead to a bigger public demonstration either before or after the general election. My take is also this time there will be greater use of force from both the demonstrators and the security forces, and the damages will be severe. In the worst case scenario, the government will either enforce emergency rule or be forced to resign. Internal dissension arising from disagreement over how the prime minister handled, or mishandled, the rally himself or proxied through the police or his home minister, will create fallout and weaken his leadership.

We've heard often that people are kingmakers. Malaysians today are realizing they have unused power to evoke change and I believe the incumbent government is worried after what took place last Saturday. Today Malaysians have a choice - to stay status quo or change. The world over governments are being overthrown through disenchantment over the way the people are treated. From my viewing and reading of evidence and analysis of BERSIH 3.0 Najib Razak has lost the 13th general election even before it is held.

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