A failed state is defined as a nation in which the government has lost political authority and control, resulting in being unable to fulfil the basic responsibilities of a sovereign state.
Among some of the causes are economic collapse, breakdown of governance, corrupt and ineffective security forces, absence of a level playing field for citizens, those in power are kleptocrats and a weak, corrupt government.
Based on this, most would agree that Malaysia is not a failed state as some appear to be claiming. Not yet at least. On the surface, everything appears to be pretty normal.
Most people have enough food on the table and earning a living is not impossible although the wages are a bare minimum in many cases. It appears that only the B40 workers and their families, who comprise 50% of the population, are struggling.
However, this is not a benchmark one should use to claim that we are doing okay and headed for recovery as some leaders seem to be crowing. Honestly, we are in a very fragile situation, with many issues threatening to be the tipping point.
Though many issues began a decade ago, all the current failings could have been corrected by the Pakatan Harapan government when it took over in 2018. But the coalition failed for many reasons.
Perikatan Nasional, which outmanoeuvred PH, with treacherous MPs switching sides, took the reins at a time when the Covid-19 onslaught set in.
With a bunch of what appear to be inept leaders desperately trying to cling on to power, many actions of the current government can be construed as heading towards making Malaysia a failed state.
Just too many incidents of late have shown that corruption, power abuse, impunity, political treachery, religious, racial bigotry and actions to remain in power at any cost have resulted in major cracks in the country.
One of the main concerns in international security associated with failed states is enabling it to be a safe haven for underworld kingpins with the protection of the police force and immigration authorities. And we have it, as most of us know already.
The exposure of a cartel within the police force which is said to be working with the crime lords is an example of how an important apparatus has been pawned to the underworld.
While there is a glimmer of hope with the recent crackdown on money launderer Nicky Liow and his large network which includes senior cops, many Malaysians are, however, not expecting for this scourge to end anytime soon.
You can’t blame them for being a wee bit pessimistic. Some feel those nabbed may eventually go scot free. They find it hard to believe that police cannot trace this one fugitive who has blown their reputation to smithereens.
Deaths in custody, allegations of police brutality and chain remands among others continue unabated and have put the police force in a bad light although there are many good officers.
Then came the issue of teachers groping students for the so-called “period checks” and sexist teachers who indulge in “rape jokes”. And what does the education minister have to say? “We have investigated thoroughly and could not find any such cases.”
Come on minister, if you expect anyone to come forward, you will not find any. You have to change your rules.
Once such teachers are exposed with evidence, they should be purged from the system. Keeping them in the same school or merely transferring them out is not a solution.
Then there is the matter of recordings being made of private phone conversations. This is scary indeed as most of our telecommunication networks are owned by the government directly or indirectly.
This implies that “big brother may be watching”. If the state apparatus is being used to illegally wiretap private or official conversations, we are no different from North Korea.
PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang, who is revered as a demi-God among his supporters, shocked Malaysians when he declared that whoever opposed the current state of emergency was “worse than a terrorist”.
This is the same leader who said corruption must be viewed from an Islamic perspective despite knowing that graft cuts across race, religion, ethnicity or nationality. Hadi should be careful as some Malaysians take his words as gospel truth.
The list does not end here. You have an undemocratically appointed government which is refusing to let Parliament sit, and using the Emergency Ordinances to bypass certain requirements to spend public money.
You have threats and coercions used to usurp the choice of the voters by making elected representatives switch parties, putting the federal and state governments in a continual state of threat, just waiting to fall at the slightest move.
Recent abuses of laws for political ends appear to be the last vestiges of freedom of expression. If the leaders can’t even accept political satires or cartoons, then we will be reduced to a bunch of non-critical robots.
And of course, the mindless and unfair penalties being dished out on struggling Malaysians trying to survive during these challenging times is mind-boggling.
What we know is that the longest ever third Covid-19 wave, which began in September last year, is tearing the nation apart.
But the generally poor planning and execution of the vaccination programme, in which croupiers at the Genting Highland casino got priority over many other deserving Malaysians, shows that all is not right.
To make matters worse, the minister in charge of vaccination Khairy Jamaluddin said he was not aware of this and had no control as it was a state decision. This by itself is a failure.
So as we can see, the recipe is ripe for Malaysia to become a failed state if things are left unchecked.
Unless a general election is called and Malaysians decide to make some positive changes to the political landscape by electing the right people to lead the nation, we are headed south. Period.
The desperate plight of poor Malaysians coupled with the latest political shenanigans of the nation’s leading parties amid an indefinite lockdown are signs of the descent of a once-proud nation, a column on Bloomberg read on Friday (July 9).
Mr Daniel Moss, a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering Asian economies, said the white flags flown by Malaysians to signal a need for food and a bit of cash were “shorthand for discontent at the atrophying state and troubled economy”.
The politicians, meanwhile, are caught up in a years-long saga, the most recent twist coming from Umno, which declared “it will leave the ramshackle coalition presided over by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and urged him to quit”.
Mr Moss warned that this may not be the end of the machinations as the United Malays National Organisation (Umno) was split between the members who wished to reclaim the party’s dominant position and MPs who wanted to keep the “nice cabinet posts” that Mr Muhyiddin had given them.
He said impoverished folk had raised a flag of surrender with no hope and little desire to overthrow the government and in any case, it wasn’t clear these days that there’s one to topple.
“The country’s prime ministers were once given grudging credit for stable leadership, albeit with authoritarian traits. However, lawmakers have proven breathtakingly unable to coalesce around a figure or programme to guide Malaysia through this plight,” Mr Moss wrote.
“The nation is beset by multiple crises — social, economic and political — fed and worsened by each other. It may only be a slight exaggeration to invoke the dreaded label of a failed state.”
He said the surrender flag captures the end of a strutting, can-do mentality, or “boleh.”