Sunday, February 13, 2011

It Takes One National Scale Disaster For People To Wake Up

We have seen recently the 18 days of mass protests in Egypt, culminating with the resignation of Mubarak and the start of the road to election process due in September. It is clearly due to people power, the mass numbers and the refusal to buckle upon the pressure by regime authorities that threaten arrests for things we do that do not amount to crime that the government finally relent to pressure. The starting point comes from Tunisia, where the moment citizens reach the boiling point and could not stand any more, they decided to come down to the streets and protest, to get the government of the day's attention.

The Domino Effect

One nation after another, other nations have started to take cue from Tunisia and Egypt. The list includes Jordan, Yemen and now Algeria. The exhilaration of people power in both countries will turn that into a domino effect. Imagine of knocking a tile of domino and in turn will knock down thousands of it in a matter of few seconds. Of course, in the process, the hegemony of United States and Israel, coupled by the big two's quest for world domination would be disarrayed with mass revolutions. Fortunately, the response in Jordan towards mass people dissatisfaction was very fast and swift, with a well-educated ruler in King Abdullah sacking the existing government and appointed another one with the key condition of mass and swift reforms.

But before the spark starts, there must be a reason to explain why the people would go down to the streets to protest. Something that in mass scale that will enrage people from all kinds of society and race that eventually realized that it is time to change, time of one party hegemony is over and the old ties that bind will have to be broken down to make it better, a.l.a. house restoration. People in Arab have already awaken from the long slumber of false sense of reality.

Sense of omnipotence too play a part of a leader's downfall. Suharto, Murbarak and even Marcos ruled a country for more than 2 decades. Same thing over and over again, with nothing much to change upon and bad track record on reforms, human rights - and still the leader wants to preside over the country again and again - to when? When they die? 

Taib Mahmud could be following the same path, fate and situation as those three people. Having running Sarawak for 3 decades, isn't it time to go? Aren't angry over mass fortunes that he has that violate the priority of Sarawakians first before his own family? Aren't there many reports that express anger over the sense of his omnipotence?

There are some points that I agreed on Dr. Mahathir's recent laments, particularly on how not even a single Muslim country is well developed because mainly on many placing religion over main priorities. In fact, Dr Mahathir should also look into Malaysia as well - the direction is too following the problem above. Some similar cases can be noted here, except that Malaysia is still a secular country because of multi-racial population and the use of English-style Federal Constitution. As what the famous scholar Al-Qaradawi said that preserving freedom is more important than going too much religion that can spook people here.

The One Common Thing That Really Makes It Happen

If we have the analytical mind, we can find out the one common thing that triggers in all those nations involved in the people revolution: national-scale disaster. A disaster that can be felt by almost everybody from top to bottom.

Most of the nations mentioned in those cases are having national-scale disasters in the form of heavy unemployment, a very weak economy, mass inflation that makes the poor more poorer, unfair people treatments and discrimination and a few other things. This has been happening elsewhere many times before. Indonesia is the best case in point, where because of the Asian Financial Crisis, Indonesia has devalued the rupiah so severely to the point that people would not stand anymore of its impact - inflation, debts, etc.. , coupled by the bad human rights track record by Suharto that people have decided to go down to the streets to protest. It might be a different case in each country, like in Philippines,  Aquino Sr's assassination after a return from exile by agents of Marcos forced the people's hand - simply killing a respected opposition figure for means of eliminating the political threat causes mass protests because of bad human rights record.

In this age and time, there are two main themes that primarily be formed as part of a national disaster - an economy disaster on the national scale or a tragedy that makes people angry in following a bad human rights track record. The former is the worst because a country will not be able to run with mass debts hanging around the neck.

Having a big number of intellectuals - figures that spur people spirit against oppression in Egypt and in Tunisia also helped to spark people revolution there. These intellectuals have liberated minds. But these kind of minds are considered dangerous to some authoritarian regimes.

Will It Happen In Malaysia?

At this point of time, I don't really think the majority of Malaysians will wake up to the false sense of reality that is around us. The Tenang by-election - using the voter situations there illustrates the present state of reality in Malaysia.

The following excerpt is from Clarissa (taken from Loyar Burok):

Well, we probably should think of Malaysia and Malaysians as people living in the Matrix. They believe they have the freedom, that the economy will improve with all these economic transformation plans, that they can still enjoy material excess and progress, that they will continue to live in comfort. I think I have written about this more than a decade ago and the situation still has not changed, not one mite.

People are still lulled by a false sense of security, not understanding that the carpet will be pulled out from under their feet anytime, at any moment. They are not unlike North Koreans in general, minus the physical deprivation and visceral torture, because they believe in much of what is fed to them. The government is smart in creating a quasi welfare state, and in creating a false sense of us going somewhere, when in reality, we are just going in circles, as what I have seen from the time I was a freshman in college, more than a decade ago.

Tenang election clearly illustrates that. Kuala Selangor illustrates that. People are still lulled by false sense of security. In other words, we are still slumbering in false reality. And clearly, it will take a national disaster for people to really wake up the fact that there are many things that have already mislead us. Simply read any article on any Malaysian newspapers that involves any BN politicians / ministers and it tastes more of a feel good thing for government. (Notice that it's play nice with government and thrash the opposition style of writing). But sometimes, it is also equivalent to lying to yourself with such sentiment.

Answer? - Not likely until disaster strikes.

The One National-Scale Disaster That Could Happen in Malaysia

I clearly believe that the next national-scale disaster is neither political, nor natural in nature (e.g, floods). Instead the next one would be economical in nature.Malaysia's national debt stands at RM 577 billion and counting. The signs of trouble of a possible worldwide scale economic bubble burst are happening now and no nation will be spared from this problem the moment the economic bubble of China or America bursts. 

When the US Dollar is no longer accepted as the main reserve currency worldwide, America dies economically and the whatever US reserves we carry in Malaysia will no longer has value. It will become a paper money with no value. Therefore, the reserves that Malaysia hold, could go below zero and the deficit becomes higher since USD reserves would not be taken into account.

The ringgit could be possibly devalued again, subsidies could be totally removed. However I was really certain that this subsidy rationalization is part of a economic hit men suggestion. Indonesia's economic collapse was also due to economic hitmen. A confession by John Perkins in his Confessions of Economic Hitmen book revealed his part in Indonesia - advising "politikus" on various things with the ulterior motive of conning the nation, billions of money out. This is no doubt is what could be happening in Malaysia in the space of one to two years time.

Once part of the integrity of a foundation has been compromised, you can see how the chips fall and it will culminate in a national-scale disaster. Not even Perkasa who screams of Malay rights, not even political games, not even hero village attitudes will save Malaysia. This is a potential global scale disaster that can bankrupt Malaysia even before Idris Jala's 2019 bankrupt forecast.

Test Case on Mitigation

Is Malaysia ready for to mitigate such risk? Not likely and I don't really believe that Najib's administration has a solid plan at all. That was the conclusion I could get. A few days ago, I have decided to query a Member of Parliament in a forum that I participated. I did not ask anything that is political, but instead concentrated on economical question in nature since the forum topic deals with East Malaysia politics and economy. I posed a question whether he is aware of possible economic bubble burst in China and America. I stressed that the answer I was keen to here is purely on personal point of view.

The answer I got is that there is a concern for the China bubble, since America is considering of forcing China to increase the yuan rate to suit US. Military might and confrontation is definitely out of the way since neither side can win in provocation contest. 

Malaysia, unlike Singapore do not have the sufficient reserves to withstand the impact of the next upcoming economic collapse. Singapore is the opposite, with reserves standing close to $600 billion SGD, with only a fraction used for its stimulus package during the 2008 recession and its currency close to the value of the US, Australian and Canadian currencies. 

The other main question that I asked was whether Malaysia has sufficient safety nets for this situation. The reaction that I got from the YB seems to tell me that Malaysia doesn't have adequate measures, with the politicking still running around and the main party seem hell bent on annihilating the opposition before national priority on all aspects. Why would Perkasa even complaint about Anwar Ibrahim's alleged plan of escape where an economic meteor is hitting Malaysia, which takes precedence over other matters?

Conclusion: With incapable politicians running and handling  the economic policies coupling with corruption index rate that has yet to improve, Malaysia is not likely to withstand that disaster long-term. Even the warning by the PM on not letting the same thing happening in Egypt is not going to work anymore, so I think that having seen the letter written by one Eunice Wong from Seremban, I don't really think that will work as one factor that could cause that is due to the government's own failings and mismanagement.

After Waking Up, Too Late To Take Back

Most of the heads and rulers of the aforementioned Arab nations with their families are found to amass a big fortune. The Mubarak family has been amassing over $70 billion US dollars of assets in Egypt and in overseas. This allegation has in fact prompted the Swiss bank to freeze the accounts pending investigation. Likewise, in Tunisia, when the former president Ben Ali left, Leila, the young wife of Ben Ali ran with mass gold - the value can feed millions of poor Tunisians there. What is concerned that if people have successfully ousted oppressed regimes, the dictators and corrupt leaders in particular will take their fortune, that the government should have and returned to the people away. It's plundering we're talking about!

The story of how Leila's obsession and antics can be equaled to Rosmah's with both of them are in housewife-style of politics. Don't get what they want, and they would call their husbands, and lamenting like a child. Not only for the two women above, there are wives of leaders elsewhere that could fall in that category.

The saying of prevention is better than cure is not likely aware by many Malaysians in this case. There are a few scenarios to illustrate the above point: if the Opposition beats Barisan Nasional in the general elections by a big majority (corrupt and greedy leaders will attempt to plunder whatever they have before going, something like in Selangor where state docs are destroyed on the night of election, and they could go King Kong), or if there happens to be a revolution like in Arab that ended successfully with leaders thrown out.

Yes, we can wake up after disaster, but at what cost? There are things too late to be done, where if not for our own coward and ignorant citizens who still are in slumber in false reality. The country's attempt to rebuild the economy after the Asian Financial Crisis goes in vain again and it could take more than the same amount of time to rebuild the economy. If the government of the day still is BN by the time a disaster like that happen, the next four letter word that people would cuss on would not be "FUCK" but "UMNO"!

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