It has been a tough year for Malaysia, and in fact, for the whole world, really.
But for us here, it’s been a combination of the pandemic, the economic fallout stemming from it, fissures in our already fragile race relations, a dreadful disaster with the recent floods, and significantly, a shambolic and unreliable government.
This convergence of a multitude of woes has made it a terribly hard year for Malaysians.
Perhaps the one epiphanous moment for me, this past year, was when I realised that our government is literally surplus to requirements. We seem to manage perfectly well without any involvement from them.
For example, in this recent flooding crisis, rather than being useful to us and acting fast to quell the spread of the calamity, collectively they actually got in the way and fudged things up.
The litany of blunders and missteps made by our somewhat inept politicians over the past two weeks, during this full-blown national crisis is public knowledge and made excellent fodder for meme-makers.
Our bloated cabinet is simply choc-a-block with gaffe prone ministers.
At this time of emergency, it was ordinary Malaysians that organised ourselves as best we could, and went to the aid of our fellow citizens.
Even as the government machinery was lackadaisical at best, individuals, groups of friends, non-government bodies, spiritual and religious organisations all bandied together and got down to providing boats, rescue operations, food-relief, temporary shelters and general assistance.
What we saw from our government on the other hand was absolutely abysmal.
It took them a good three days to even muster up their apparatus to get down to the ground and do their jobs. In this ensuing period, millions of ringgit of property and possessions were lost, people were displaced, and the death toll kept rising.
Of course, some in the government played the blame game. Others were supposedly on their year-end vacations overseas. Some opportunists simply posed for cameras and pretended to work. And yet others, who held important portfolios in disaster management were just nowhere to be seen.
A friend quite aptly said, “… the flood victims were crying for boats, but what they got instead was show-boating politicians”.
Malaysians had no time for all their shenanigans. We got to work and did our very best to help.
Who can forget the wonderful Gurdwara Sahib in Petaling Jaya that opened its doors to Malaysians of all races to join in and cook food for the flood victims? Thousands of meals went out from here.
Even before the government made any official announcement, local mosque leaders didn’t think twice about opening their doors for those in need, and turned their places of worship into temporary shelters for all flood victims, regardless of religion.
As the water subsided, squads of Malaysians sprang into action, without prompting and just driven by their compassion for each other, to join massive clean-up operations in the affected areas.
All this was done, not because of our government, but in-spite of them.
It is a commonly held belief that a government has three fundamental responsibilities towards its citizens. It is supposed to provide; protect; and invest in talent and infrastructure. I think you would agree that it is doubtful if our current government is doing any of this.
How did our government “provide” for us during this national disaster?
People had to wait for help for up to 48 hours on their rooftops before anyone from the government showed up. But on the contrary, citizens mobilised boats and went on their private rescue missions to help anyone who needed it, almost immediately when the catastrophe struck.
Did our government “protect” us during this tragic time?
No, they got in the way of people helping others. Rescue boats were used for photo-opportunities. Ambulances were stopped to allow official motorcades ferrying ministers around, and pretend clean-up operations were stage-managed by some in power.
Has our government invested in “talent and infrastructure” that would thwart calamities like this?
I’d say it’s a loud no to this one. We saw a hopeless lack of coordination and disaster management. And government officials and agencies were awfully sluggish and chaotic in sorting the problems out.
And as for infrastructure, well, we all recognise now that it is the lack of planning, zoning and proper environmental assessment before building, which is a major cause of this “natural” disaster.
This, together with unchecked and clogged-up drains or waterways. And, irrigation and drainage pumps that are in a dreadful state of disrepair certainly made things worse than they already were.
So, the question we all need to ask ourselves is this; why do we need a government, if they can’t even do the most fundamental things in their job specification?
As we close this difficult year, we ought to say “thank you” to our fellow Malaysians who immediately came to our rescue, and we should thank our lucky stars that we share our nation with such thoughtful and kind people.
And perhaps, we should just say a resounding “no thank you” to our current politicians.
As 2021 draws to a close, let’s all wish for a better year ahead for Malaysia.
Source : FMT