Why Reforms are Necessary


By Fathol Zaman Bukhari

ipoh echo editorialI was an unwilling guest at a relative’s wedding last weekend in Teluk Intan, the town noted for its leaning clock tower, lobsters, pineapples and Mastan Ghani restaurants. Why was I unwilling? The reason is simple enough. I dreaded the kind of people I was about to meet. And knowing well that so-and-so would be there, only added to my misery.

But not wishing to disappoint my kinsmen, I made the 60-mile journey, nonetheless. The object of my ire was one distant cousin who is a policeman by profession. Many years my junior, he has made a niche for himself in the police force. From a humble PI (Probationary Inspector) at the bottom rung of the promotional ladder, he is now a SAC 1 (Senior Assistant Commissioner 1). What is more worrying is his affiliation. He is with the Special Branch and is attached to Bukit Aman where the inner sanctum of the force is located. Let us call him Tuan Oss, for want of a better name and identification.

It was Tuan Oss who, at another wedding reception in Petaling Jaya, in early July 2011 warned us to keep away from Bersih 2.0, as the Police would come down hard on the protesters. Tuan Oss had dismissed claims that the clarion call for free, fair and clean elections by Ambiga, as a figment of the Opposition’s imagination. “They’re nothing but trouble makers out to disrupt KL traffic,” he exhorted. And to reinforce his statement, he arrogantly declared that should any of us dare to do the unthinkable, he would not come to our aid.

What happened on July 9, 2011 is now history. Bersih 2.0 protestors got whacked and almost 1,400 were apprehended, finger-printed and their mug shots taken. After a good rest at the Police Depot in Jalan Gurney, they were released.

Fast forward to Sunday, June 3 – location the main marquee of the makeshift dining hall in front of my relative’s house, 3 miles outside Teluk Intan. My nemesis, Tuan Oss was there. After the usual greetings we settled down to serious business. Oss was in his element claiming victory for the handling of Bersih 3.0 on April 28. “Once the protestors breached the wire barriers we fired at them,” he exclaimed. He was referring to the mayhem that took place towards the end of the rally when Police fired their water cannons on those who broke the police line near Merdeka Square. “We fear a repeat of the Tahrir Square occupation in Cairo.”

I could still accept his shameless boasts up to this point. But when he referred to some of the leaders as communist agents bent on turning the country into a socialist state that was the last straw. I asked him to differentiate between communism and socialism and whether they are one and the same? He stumbled for an answer. Obviously, this braggart did not know his stuff. If this is the kind of officer that fills the upper crust of the police force, I pity the country. It reminded me of the time many years ago when, as a student at the armed forces staff college, an academician had asked us the same question. Unfortunately, none of us could give an answer. We were fighting Chin Peng, a devoted communist, yet none of us knew what communism was all about.

Tuan Oss ought to know that socialism is defined as “any economic theory advocating ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods.” Communism is “a system of government in which the state plans and controls the economy, and a single party holds power over the people.”  One is economics the other is both economics and politics.

What we need now is change. We need people knowledgeable enough to run and manage the country, not morons like Tuan Oss. That is why reforms are necessary. Over the past four years Malaysia has undergone some significant changes, many of which are attributed to the general election of March 8, 2008. When the ruling coalition lost its two-thirds majority in Parliament and conceded defeat in five of 13 states, it triggered shifts in the way policies and politics run in this country.

Of course one cannot expect the incumbents to take these losses lightly. The number of false accusations, civil suits, explicit sex videos, peaceful and ugly demonstrations, etc., only exacerbates this friction. The coming GE 13 will be the ugliest-ever electoral contest since 1955.

The manner in which Penang and Selangor are managed under the Opposition is food for thought. Public participation is encouraged where projects and programmes are concerned. It may not mean much but it is definitely a step in the right direction. Zambry’s cycling diplomacy is a direct result of this change.