Tuesday 11 August 2009

The art of Managing a we want one?

Methinks something is stirring in the Pakatan Rakyat and UMNO camps. The winds of change seems to blow ever so slowly. Diversions are being thrown around here and there by Pakatan Rakyat. The issue of selling beers in Selangor seem to take a life of its own unencumbered by thoughts of Pakatan unity. There is the ‘life and death struggle’ of Pakatan Rakyat in Selangor and the internal ‘bickering’ between PAS and DAP. For Barisan they want Selangor back and the word is out that they are confident enough to look at holding elections in Perak…it all points to the classic diversionary tactics of ‘creating a crisis’  - but by whom? Barisan or Pakatan?

What is self-evident now is that there is a growing momentum towards creating a Malaysia the people are unfamiliar with. The dismantling of the great racial divide, the real possibility of Pakatan Rakyat emerging as the next Government after the General Elections (at worse an effective opposition) and the potential demise of UMNO and the Barisan Coalition it leads as the Party in power. 

Concurrently as part and parcel of this progression there is an increasing demand by the people for transparency and openness in  Government - akin to Putri Gunung Ledang agreeing to marry the Sultan if given:

A bridge made of pure gold from Malacca to Mount Ledang;
Another bridge made of pure silver from Mount Ledang to Malacca;
Seven trays (dulang) of the hearts of mosquitoes;
Seven trays (dulang) of the hearts of the germs;
Seven jars (tempayan) of the juice of young betel nuts
Seven jars (tempayan) of the tears of the virgins
One bowl of blood from his fondest and only son.

All this makes for a vigorous and excitable population impatient for changes that they have  long waited to come. And now that the time for change is almost here – the nearness of it happening have made any more waiting unbearable. They want the changes to happen now. They want the ISA to be abolished now. They want what is wrong with this country to be corrected now. And accountability at all levels of Government now.

In this atmosphere of potential crisis – what separates order and chaos is a very fine line.

It is in the interest of Pakatan Rakyat to have the people on edge but disciplined and focused on the task ahead – the orderly transition from Opposition to Government.

What UMNO/Barisan will do in a crisis situation would decide the future of democracy in our country.

In a crisis situation the challenges to be faced by those in power, in the aftermath of any crisis, would depend on what it wants to achieve – for the country, for the people and most critical for themselves–because it present opportunities to secure leadership status and legitimacies, preferred political alliances and political exploitation to maintain their status quo. It would also present opportunities to push through desired policy ‘reforms’ for the nation’s advantage of for it’s own.

How would UMNO negotiate the aftermath of a political crisis of its own making?

The crisis could be a catalyst to creating or blocking reforms within the country. It could be used to galvanized or ‘guide’ the population towards desired goals.

There will also be a need to identify accountability. Who will accept or deny responsibility for the crisis. What failures and weakness will be hidden and what will be exposed.

Finally what will be the end game of the crisis. Will dissent be stifled if not totally eliminate? Will those in power put into place checks and balance to ensure that another crisis will not occur or will it use the opportunity to consolidate and reinforce power and their leadership position as soon as possible?

When we consider all these possibilities it is essential that nothing should happen that would turn brinkmanship to disaster and yet if we are scared to go too the brink, we will lose. There is a need for us to understand that in a crisis situation there is a clear and present danger that the resulting chaos will be taken advantage of by Barisan to secure their hold on power for the foreseeable future. We only need to see the use of the ISA to curtail dissent during Ops Lallang resulting in the arrest of so many of our own people. And since then the use of power at its disposal to ensure opponents of Barisan are incarcerated as been the norm. We cannot take that chance.

And so I urged the leaders within Pakatan Rakyat to educate and instill in its members the need to remain calm under extreme provocation, the need to refrain form overt display of anger or force when confronted by the overwhelming force of PDRM. The need for restrain in order to not allow the powers that be to create a crisis situation and to blame that resulting situation on us. For then they could proceed to assume complete control of our country and do what they want and as they please for decades to come.

We would have need for leaders within our ranks that are able to take us through these trouble time and see it through to the end so that the end result will ensure the beginning of a new dawn. Do not let them push us over the edge.   

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