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Pendapat / Opinion

Look at the bigger picture

The wheel of change moves on and those who were down go up and those who were up go down. – Jawaharlal Nehru

At least one prominent leader of the Islamist party has come up with a sensible suggestion: stop the internal bickering and concentrate on statecraft. The opposition may have the experience in managing a state but governing a country is altogether a different ball game. It requires great skill, acumen and judgment to promote the welfare of the people while at the same time balancing the needs of a diverse society.

The ruling party can claim it has solid experience in managing the affairs of the country, but after more than 50 years in the saddle, it has lost its sense of direction and purpose as it had veered onto the wrong side of the road in pursuit of obnoxious policies.

What can the opposition offer? It must put on its thinking cap and start planning its moves. The general election is near and there is a strong favourable wind blowing in its direction. There is a growing feeling that this time around, the trophy may change hands and the country may see new masters taking charge of its destiny.

The Orange Book is a good start with its goals clearly spelt out but more must be served on the platter. The opposition manifesto, when it is unveiled, must further set forth what the coalition will do when it comes to power.

Many things have gone awry in this country in the past few decades. There is an undercurrent of dissatisfaction and unhappiness with the way political and economic affairs are being managed, with the growing realisation that something drastic must be done to stop the rot.

Public anger did boil over onto the streets only to see the protest crushed. The arrogance of the government knows no bounds: it treats its citizens like chattels who can be used and abused at the whims and fancies of the political overlords. Statecraft has become an art of deception and exploitation.

Now the opposition alliance with its disparate ideologies and beliefs has given the people an alternative path to a more promising future. Can it manage the country more efficiently than its rival? No one knows the answer simply because it has never occupied the centre of power. Its long years in the political wilderness have not equipped it with the skills necessary for managing a larger stage.

Voters continued to cast their lot with the devil they know rather than the devil they don’t. The gathering storm may change all this old familiar scene.

Squabbling must stop

The ruling party senses that its grip on power is loosening and its commander is extremely wary of calling for polls now. At every chance it gets, the government of the day never fail to exploit the seeming disarray in the opposition rank to its advantage.

With ample help from its mouthpiece, it has been going on an aggressive campaign to bolster its argument that the bickering in the opposition camp reflects the latter’s inability to rule the country. But the people have grown wiser to all these propaganda tactics and want to believe that the other side can and will do a better job at governance.

But the squabbling must stop. The Islamist party and its partners must refocus on the bigger picture: how to rule the country once the opposition alliance triumphs at the polls. They must sit down now and begin tossing ideas and proposals on how they can solve the many ills plaguing the nation.

There must be a collective approach and agreement on all the issues thrashed out. All the spat over Islamic laws and Islamic state must take a back stage. Malaysia is a story in diversity and no one should try to rewrite a different line that would only upset the delicate balance and exacerbate an already tense situation.

The Party of God, the Party of Democracy and the Party of Justice must all find common ground if they want to be the government of the day. Each party cannot push its own selfish agenda at the expense of the wellbeing of the people.

No one party should impose its will on the other. In matters spiritual, the guiding light should be the individual’s moral upbringing, and in matters temporal, the beacon should be the Federal Constitution.

All the three players, who themselves have been no less vociferous in their criticism of the government, must live up to public expectation that they can produce a more viable plan that can pull the country back from the brink.

Statecraft is serious business. Politicians who “throw themselves into public affairs and treat political activity as a pastime” have no business to embark upon a public career. Public service demands the highest level of integrity and commitment. In the overall scheme of things, people yearn for “peace, freedom, plenty, concord” while rejecting strife, medieval laws, ethnic supremacy.-FMT


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