Times of change | Selangor Times
Issue 118


Times of change
Writer: Fahmi Fadzil
Published: Fri, 03 Jun 2011

Of late, we’ve been inundated with talk about withdrawal of subsidies and subsequently the change in the price of sugar, RON95, gas, electricity, etc – some of which has happened, and some of which (for whatever economic or political reason) has not.

And of course, all this talk has helped fuel the rakyat’s imagination that something big is rolling our way, in the form of the ever-looming 13th General Election.

Again, much about the date of 13GE is speculative, something which only Datuk Seri Najib Razak is privy to – or at least, that’s what we’ve been made to understand. Yet it seems impossible to talk about changes happening around us right now without recalling the days, weeks, and months preceding the 12th General Election, and the resultant mood or climate surrounding public sentiment.

I still remember the heated talk of “ubah gaya hidup” back then – particularly vivid is my recollection of this YouTube video done by Youth4Change which parodied the BN administration’s sentiment that when the going gets tough, the rakyat gets changing (if petrol prices skyrocket, just change from a car to a motorbike, to a bicycle, to...??).

This time round, the BN administration has been a bit more savvy in laying the ground for potential change in basic goods. For instance, when it came to sugar, they floated the “healthy lifestyle” and “anti-diabetes” campaign. Very smart, which kind of reveals that there are sharp public relations operators walking the hallways of Putrajaya these days, and obviously sharper (or more sensitive) than during the times of the previous tenants of the fourth floor.

But what about the petrol and gas prices? Well, the “performance” of Umno Youth in fighting to stay the price of RON95 should suffice to lower any temporary negative public sentiments. “At least someone spoke up for us” might be the perceived public’s response.

In any case, there are no changes in these prices for now at least, even if the total amount spent on subsidies balloons to somewhere closer towards the RM20 billion mark. The Najib administration is literally biting the bullet.

And so, going forward, are we going to expect no change at all? Of course not. These are sensitive times. The 13GE is near, so there shouldn’t be too much rocking of the rakyat’s boat. But would this discussion be different post-13GE? Maybe. But that’s speculative, and it all depends on who sits in Putrajaya then!

But an observation: any government operating in these “post-Arab spring” times are becoming more sensitive to rumblings of the populace. Perhaps, within the Malaysian context, the days of being quiet and just accepting orders from above are over.

Perhaps the popular mandate is not so obviously within reach of any particular group, and thus all who vie for it must appeal more exhaustively for the rakyat’s ears.

Perhaps these days, the people are more easily roused, organised, galvanised, becoming a somewhat not-too-silent threat hanging by the bedsides of those who sleep with power.

Whatever the case may be, the days leading up to the 13GE will be very exciting indeed. We can already see the ratcheting-up of sentiments by all sides, which is a double-edged sword that must never be allowed to be raised above our heads.

In fact, we must do what we can to allay such negative sentiments and work together to maintain peace and calm in the country.

Come 13GE, no matter what kind of change takes place, no matter who walks the hallways in Putrajaya, we can only hope and pray that change happens democratically, under peaceful circumstances, and with our national dignity, sanctity, and sanity intact.


 Selangor Times



Also by Fahmi Fadzil:

Awaiting local, federal elections

THE Malaysian political scene feels like it fits right in with the work of absurdist playwright Beckett’s play entitled ‘Waiting for Godot’, where two characters – Vladimir and Estragon – wait patiently for the arrival of Godot, who never arrives.

New beginnings

Farewell 2012, Hello 13GE

WHAT a year it has been! Who would’ve thought that much of these past 11 months would have sped by with such ferocity?

Reconsidering elected representatives

What is the role of a member of Parliament? A state assemblyperson (ADUN)? A local councillor? 

The day after...

In my last article, I wrote about the need to imagine the hours, days, weeks, and months following the 13th General Election (a most enigmatic event, whose precise date is and will forever be a mystery... until it is called!). 

Change must come but not with violence

A few days ago, I read an article by Liew Chin Tong, the MP for Bukit Bendera, entitled “The Last Mile” (The Rocket, July 2, 2012).

Let’s keep thuggery out

I have been working for Nurul Izzah and Parti Keadilan Rakyat since October 2010.

Cleaner, freer, fairer, better

It’s been a good nine months since the epic Bersih 2.0 rally of July 2011. I still remember the days that came before that mammoth gathering - the tension, the stress, the uncertainties, and most of all: the unyielding desire of the rakyat for free and fair elections - and realize that, given the special circumstance that we are in today what with polls being weeks or months away, those thunderous days may not be repeated verbatim.

Tale of two gatherings

This past week saw several different yet, from my point of view, important gatherings of people standing up for what they believe in. I want to write a little bit about two gatherings in particular, and highlight what we may (hopefully) learn from each.

Of sacred cows and secret condos

It’s been a while since my last article appeared in Selangor Times - things have been moving a tad bit faster than usual; even now I’m writing in between completing other tasks, but no matter.

What a year!

“Buka tutup buka tutup mata, dah habis satu tahun.”

TTDI residents ready for futsal 'match'

A few Fridays ago, I received an email from my neighbourhood security-watch committee about a new project that had suddenly mushroomed in our little corner of Taman Tun Dr Ismail: a futsal court.

Neighbourhoods under siege

OF late I’ve been thinking a lot about neighbourhoods – all these places where we grew up, started our own families, and basically watched the nation go by.

Cleaner, fairer, better?

PRACTICALLY everyone who is reading this already knows about the July 9 rally organised by the Bersih 2.0 coalition. I believe that many of us were there on the streets on that historic day.

Maafkan kami

I’m not sure if you’ve been following the news, but earlier in June I was kind of in the news as I had to apologise for some things that I had tweeted in January.

Sarawak, show us the way

The recent Sarawak state elections were such a learning experience for many Malaysians. Irrespective of whether we were active participants in the political battles on the ground, or just curious observers reading the news on Twitter, it is clear that Sarawak – and the rest of the country – can never be the same again.

The Malaysian resistance

These are “artistic impressions” of thoughts circumambulating the increasingly controversial Mass Rapid Transit (MRT)
project. I chose to say “increasingly controversial” because we all know we need this infrastructure and thus any opposition to it appears to reject a very public need.











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