Of sacred cows and secret condos
Writer: Fahmi Fadzil
Published: Fri, 17 Feb 2012
It’s been a while since my last article appeared in Selangor Times - things have been moving a tad bit faster than usual; even now I’m writing in between completing other tasks, but no matter.
The point is, things in Malaysia are becoming more and more interesting with each passing week. It just seems like in the last four years since the “political tsunami” of 2008, we’ve yet to have a dull moment!
2012 began with quite a bluster - the early morning roughing up of undergraduate Safwan Anang and others who were demonstrating outside Universiti Perguruan Sultan Idris (UPSI) against the sentence that was to be meted out against one recalcitrant student, Adam Adli. Twitter Jaya was up in arms upon finding out that the young lad had been so severely mistreated, although news that he had been beaten to a pulp was consequently found to have been a little exaggerated.
Nonetheless, once again it is proven that social media is one of the best channels for information distribution - of course it says little about the integrity/credibility of that information, which is something we’ll have to work harder on to ensure/verify in the future.
And then came the Jan 9 verdict on the trial of Anwar Ibrahim. The thousands who gathered outside the KL court complex were dumbfounded when the acquittal decision was read out - and all the phone lines were clogged, it was practically impossible to send out an SMS.
More troubling on that morning, of course, were the three explosives that went off at 10am. Todate, we have yet to get a clear picture from the police on who could have been behind such mischief.
Since then, Malaysians have been treated to an increasing number of news stories that befuddle, bewilder, and bewitch. Top of the pops, of course, is the National Feedlot Corporation (NFC) debacle. I won’t elaborate, as I’m certain all of us are well aware of the details; but what I would like to elaborate on is the amount of distrust the rakyat has towards the powers that be has grown exponentially, and particularly among those living outside urban centres.
Some put it down to the fact that cows are easier to “see” compared to the RM12 billion scandal that is PKFZ (heck, I think most of us have trouble following the details of that case), or RM7 billion armored personnel carriers, or whatever else have you. I think that there’s truth to that; but more so, I think this is the straw that broke the rakyat’s back.
The details that have been forthcoming (not from the accused, as you can imagine) have been ghastly - covert purchases of condos, tracts of land, a luxury vehicles and more - and perhaps are merely the tip of the corrupted iceberg into which the proverbial ship of this nation has smashed into.
And we’ve not even gotten into the protracted issues of 1Care, Skim Amanah Rakyat (SARA) 1Malaysia, or even the “special loan scheme” that EPF is supposed to extend to low-cost house buyers in KL. My assessment is that with the prying open of the cowgate, expect a less than sympathetic rakyat when it comes to details on how public monies are being spent.
And unfortunately, public monies are being spent almost like there’s no tomorrow; the ratio of our government debt to GDP, according to IMF figures, stands at over 56% - higher than other Asian country - and this is reaching nearly unsustainable levels.
In the final analysis, what matters most is that the future of the rakyat and of this country is not left to hands that have a penchant for cash, cows and condos. But only the results of the upcoming (read: anytime between now and the first quarter of 2013) general election will tell if we’ve all learned to make the best decision we can.