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10:46am 26/11/2022
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Civil society, uncharted waters and backseat drivers
By:Prof Dr. Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi

In today’s article I wish to remind civil society of its “failures” in causing the fall of Pakatan Harapan government.

This article is to ask civil society to reflect and use wisdom before they start becoming backseat drivers for the new PM and the unity government.

We are all in uncharted waters and the demands of civil society, however well-intentioned, principled or well researched may cause ripples in our TikTok society that may turn into a tsunami wave of destruction on the new and delicate unity government.

However, before that I wish to dwell first on the term “unity government” as well as remind us all who our politicians are as shown in the five harrowing days after GE15.

Firstly, I would like to question the use of the term kerajaan perpaduan or unity government.

I happen to think that the name unity government is not a good name, but the name used by Iswardy Morni may be interesting to consider.

He uses the name Kerajaan YDP Agong. His reason was that it was the YDP Agong who was solely responsible to bring selfish politicians into rethinking their priorities for the nation and not themselves…at least for the moment.

Many civil society people may totally disagree with this name because it speaks of “royal interference.”

You see, this is the main problem with Malaysians and civil society who do not speak Bahasa Melayu and do not understand the adab Melayu and Islam. This is why civil society’s call for many well-intentioned issues like human rights, LGBTQ and underage marriage became fuel for the opposition like PAS and Bersatu to further fan the fires of religion and Malay dignity.

I would like to use the name kerajaan perpaduan or unity government as opposed to Kerajaan YDP Agong, but we must all remember that the man behind the present government was the patient and wise YDP Agong who handled our selfish and small-minded politicians.

Anwar and Malaysians are in uncharted waters with the formation of this unity government. Because of this, all of us, including civil society must understand that rocking the boat with unthinking statements and demands will cause a mutiny and then every one will lose.

Just as soon as Anwar was sworn in, one civil society started demanding that the new PM not continue with a bloated government as in the previous one.

This backseat driving must stop. It MUST stop! Firstly, the speaker of that NGO, however well read, well researched or well spoken, does not have one iota of experience dealing with Malaysian politics, Malay politics and Islamic issues.

Yes, the subject calls for prudence in economic spending, but when the opposition is trying to buy the MPs with promises of lucrative posts and projects, it requires a non-civil society approach to save the unity government.

We must remember. We are in uncharted waters. We must remember that we are all not politicians.

Then there is another NGO starting to demand English in public schools.

Didn’t the NGO know about all the terrible and dangerous TikTok about Malay supremacy and Islamic dignity that had swung the voters to the PN side? Don’t demand-lah! Don’t be a backseat driver. Don’t make Anwar’s job more difficult than it already is.

Both these NGOs don’t have a damn clue how to talk to the likes of Hadi Awang or Faizal Azzumu. These politicians work on a different realm altogether.

Anwar has the credential of Islam and Malayness to begin a dialogue on prudent spending or education in his own way and in his own time. Civil society must not demand everything now, now now!

Truly, I am completely at shock at the way civil society carries themselves as if they own Malaysia with their specific issues and demands.

First of all, civil society must practice restrain. Speak only with reflection and wisdom. Do not speak just with tables and pie charts. Politicians like Hadi and Peja don’t care much about those data.

Secondly, always “request” for “pertimbangan” and not we must have this, we must do that, or we must all jump and skip.

Even though we are in a democracy where the elected representative like the PM are our servants, that does not mean we can talk harshly and emotionlessly to the servants.

Furthermore, in a twist of strangeness, the elected representatives are also our “leaders.” So, speak with adab or decorum.

Next, we must no longer talk badly of BN and Umno. Yes, some may have issues of corruption and skeletons in their closets, but we must not treat them with disrespect. It was Zahid Hamidi and the Agong who saved the day for Malaysians.

Like it or not, Anwar would never have been sworn in if not for those two.

I am not trying to be pro-Zahid or justify his crime, if he has any, but this is realpolitik.

Those who are married know very well how different each spouse is to each other, but the fact remains that they will always need one another because of their differences.

Many NGO personalities think they are the saviors of humankind from their lofty values and principled stand, but they do not know the sweat and dirty sides of war.

Once you are on the muddy political grounds of battle, you need to think on your feet while they are both trudging through mud and blood. So, don’t think you know everything-lah!

Finally, civil society must practice speaking in Bahasa Malaysia with the proper phrasing and adab so that the opposition can never use the idea of disrespecting Melayu as fuel for their election TikTok campaign.

Selangor may fall if the unity government does not do its homework and the civil society does not watch their mouth or what they say.

We must remember. We are in uncharted waters. We must remember that we are all not politicians.

We have seen Anwar the idealogue, idealist and moralist, but now we must trust Anwar the politician, the Melayu and the Islamic reformist.

Please trust that we do not know everything and we have not experienced realpolitik.

Give time, keep silent for a while, speak with wisdom and above all, trust in our leader-representatives to guide us through for we are all in the same ship.

(Prof Dr. Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi is Professor of Architecture at a local university and his writing reflects his own personal opinion entirely.)

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Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi
Anwar Ibrahim
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