Political turmoil grips Malaysia

As I write this on Monday Feb 24, Malaysia is gripped in political turmoil, with all sorts of political manoeuvrings and jostling for power.

Mar 01, 2020

By Anil Netto
As I write this on Monday Feb 24, Malaysia is gripped in political turmoil, with all sorts of political manoeuvrings and jostling for power.

The last time we checked, in the 2018 general election, the people willed a new Malaysia, rid of a horrible kleptocracy and tainted politicians and officials who were working for their self-interest. Even today, most Malaysians are fed up with those who manipulate ethnicity and religion for their political ends.

A few of the personalities involved in the attempt to form a ‘back door’ government last weekend have been tainted by corruption allegations or charges. The attempt thus far has not won widespread support, going by the lack of enthusiasm and jubilation on the streets. This was in sharp contrast to the anticipation and euphoria that greeted the new government in 2018.

In a parliamentary democracy, the people have a sacred right to choose a new government. It is not for politicians to decide.

Recent events should serve as a wakeup call to all the politicians in our country.

They were elected to serve the interests of the people, not their own selfish interests or the interests of their cronies or vested corporate interests. They were elected to uplift the lives of  ordinary people, especially the vulnerable and the marginalised. They were not elected to put in place mega-projects that will financially burden the country, degrade the environment and enrich the coffers of the companies concerned. They were not elected to put their own political interests ahead of public interest.

They were not elected to introduce neoliberal policies that enrich the wealthy and large corporations even further while removing subsidies and assistance for the poor and the marginalised.

Political power is an aphrodisiac. The more one has, the ‘higher’ one gets, and it comes with the trappings of power and wealth.

Some politicians forget they were put in their positions by the people to work for the people’s interests.

This reminds me of the intense exchange between Pontius Pilate and Jesus on the theme of power in John 19:10-11:

10 Pilate then said to him, ‘Are you refusing to speak to me? Surely you know I have power to release you and I have power to crucify you?’

11 Jesus replied, 'You would have no power over me at all if it had not been given you from above;...

So, political power is a sacred responsibility bestowed from above. And to what ends? To serve selfish vested interests or to serve the people and protect their rights?

In the washing of feet, Jesus showed us what real leadership was all about: serving the people, to be a servant of the people ie servant leadership.

When the Bishop of Rome was asked if he had become a star, he replied: “You know what the title was that popes used and that must be used? Servant of the servants of God… He is somewhat different from a star.”

It takes leaders of real integrity to overcome the temptations of office — power  and wealth — to work in the interests of the people. Even Jesus was not spared: he was tempted in the wilderness with the trappings of great power and wealth. Too often, politicians embark in politics with the wrong motivation. Or they may enter politics with noble idealism but along the way, they get sidetracked by the lure of astounding wealth and “the good life”.

This is why we need politicians of great integrity on both sides of Parliament. They are entrusted with a noble responsibility — to serve and protect the interests of not just the people but also the Commons. In this era of climate change, they have a heavy responsibility also to protect the ecosystem and build climate resilience. So, in these grave times, we ask the Spirit to bless Malaysia and its people so that justice, peace, freedom and ecological awareness will flourish and usher in a new Malaysia. May we continue to celebrate the diversity and bounty that the Lord has blessed this nation with.

May the Lord protect us from the corrupt, the power-hungry, the greedy and those with evil intentions. Let us remember the Lord’s reassurance in Isaiah 41:10: “do not be afraid, for I am with you; do not be alarmed, for I am your God. I give you strength, truly I help you, truly I hold you firm with my saving right hand.”

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