On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Focus on the real issues

While the politicking continues to take centre stage, Malaysians are tired of the charade. There are other issues to be concerned about.

I AM tired and I believe many Malaysians are fed up too with the non-stop politicking in this country. Politics has become a national obsession.

Our leadership seems to be losing its grip at a time when we are looking to them for clear directions and for an assurance that the Malaysia we know is still intact.

Perhaps the 1MDB controversy has dragged on too long and has distracted the attention of our leaders, what with fresh allegations on an almost daily basis.

Malaysians, especially those in the urban areas, are greatly disturbed as the players fight to convince their listeners that they are the ones telling the truth.

We want the Auditor-General to quickly complete his report and hand it to the Public Accounts Committee and also for Bank Negara to share with us its findings. It is still our hope that they can reveal the facts, without any tinge of political biasness, for the true picture to emerge.

The integrity of these institutions must be kept intact and we certainly want to evaluate their findings.

The issue of accountability and integrity aside, there is genuine concern among many Malaysians that our nation is drifting towards a mono religious country with greater conservatism while open-mindedness and tolerance are frowned upon.

But many of our Cabinet ministers have, regrettably, chosen to remain silent when they ought to be standing up for the rest of us Malaysians. We don’t even know what they are thinking any more.

Anyone following the news in Malaysia today would know that we have to put up with a whole lot of issues.

Do we really even care about whether eateries should be closed after midnight or if the length of a woman’s skirt conforms to some dress code? And why do we have to spoil the joy of our gymnast winning a gold medal by condemning her attire? Come on, get real!

It is to the credit of some of our Rulers that they have spoken up on these issues while our politicians choose to keep silent.

One can imagine how gymnast Farah Ann Hadi must feel to get a personal letter from the Sultan of Selangor Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah congratulating her on her performance and telling her not to take to heart negative comments from narrow-minded people.

There is this perception that the Little Napoleons, or civil servants with their own agendas, are showing their clout because the political leadership is weak. These administrators know too well that they can get away with anything when the leaders are too busy fighting their own battles.

Pakatan Rakyat, with dreams of winning Putrajaya, is another story. It is in total shambles. The marriage could not last more than seven years, and finally the seven-year itch took its toll on the coalition.

Malaysians are confused and amused over what is happening to the three partners.

Are they divorced, separated or still living together because they cannot imagine living alone without the privileges of power that had consummated the marriage?

The bottom line is that with all the turmoils within, it is no longer able to prove itself as an alternative to the existing ruling Barisan Nasional government.

It is not able to take advantage of the black eye that the national leadership is having because the Pakatan leaders are too busy killing themselves.

While urban Malaysia is totally transfixed over how the 1MDB issue is unfolding each day, with the endless claims of greed, corruption and criminal breach of trust, it is amazing that the issue was not even brought up at the recent PAS general assembly.

That probably explains how much interest, or rather the lack of it, such issues resonate with the rural heartland. Or is it simply because the issue is too complicated for the delegates to understand?

If urban Malaysia believes that the so-called ousted PAS progressives will win via a new Islamist party, then they have no idea how rural politics works.

Malaysians, in general, are upset that our politicians are becoming disconnected with most of us. We are losing sleep over the continued depreciation of the ringgit. That is what ordinary Malaysians talk about over meals.

Our ringgit is shrinking and no one is sure if the worst is over, as touted. There seems to be some decimal improvement following the Fitch report, which maintained our A- rating, but there has been no real shift of improvement of our currency.

Malaysians are still struggling with the impact of the GST implementation as we adjust to the rules of the goods and services tax. It has continued to be a major issue among ordinary Malaysians, especially businessmen, who have seen sales dropping since April.

The escalating cost of living has continued to be a major impact on the lives of ordinary workers. Many have little left from their salaries after paying all the necessary bills. It is not wrong to say that it is a struggle for many, especially the urban poor and middle class, just to survive.

The rakyat is simply tired of all the charade.