On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Time to get real

The greatest enemies of Malaysia are out there and not within. We must watch what we say and what we do to win back plus points for the country. The real fight is at the capital markets.

SOME politicians are known to suffer from the delusion of grandeur. They have the fixed, false belief that they possess superior qualities such as genius, fame, omnipotence or wealth.

Psychologists say people with a delusion of grandeur often have the conviction of having some great but unrecognised talent or insight.

In Malaysia, not only do we have such politicians, but they also get into the news when they talk about the so-called “imaginary enemies” who are out to create havoc in the country.

These has-been politicians create a potent brew in seeking to make a comeback by waving the racist card.

Last week, National Silat Federation chairman and red shirt rally organiser Tan Sri Mohd Ali Rustam warned that the martial arts group is “ready to go to war” if ever challenged.

The former Malacca chief minister and a former Umno vice-president reminded the Malays that they must live with “dignity” and that “we want to send out a statement that Malays with the art of silat are still in Kuala Lumpur”.

“We do not want to go to war, but if they want war, we will go to war,” he was quoted as saying, adding that Malays were “insulted”, referring to the four Bersih rallies since 2007, which had all called for electoral reforms.

Pesaka was one of the main organisers of the red shirt rally on Sept 16, which was held to counter the Bersih 4 rally as it had suppo­sedly insulted the integrity of the Malay race.

If the warning was meant to get himself into the news, the veteran politician has surely succeeded but it surely didn’t do any good for unity in this country.

The last time he got himself into the headlines was in 2009, when he ran for deputy president and was disqualified after being found guilty of money politics.

Two years later, he celebrated his son’s marriage in front of 130,000 guests in a sports centre, which lasted eight hours, and generated a hefty food bill. It became a controversy naturally.

It must have been challenging for Rustam to try to claw himself back to the national limelight but again, we are not sure if it’s for the right reason.

For one, nobody is challenging anyone. Ordinary Malaysians are too busy trying to earn a living, paying off our bills in an increasingly inflationary environment, and coping with the depreciating ringgit.

Even those who have not bothered to check the daily prices of crude oil are doing so now as they know it has the biggest impact on our ringgit.

All Malaysians, regardless of our race and religion, are in this together, facing the choppy economic waters ahead.

Wake up, stop dreaming and stop imagining things. The greatest enemies are outside Malaysia, not fellow Malaysians.

We should be worried that our rivals, particularly our neighbours, are telling investors that they should stop investing in Malaysia because of our unstable economic and political environment. Any form of racial rhetoric, such as what Rustam said, isn’t helping us.

If it helps, I hope the organisers of InvestMalaysia, the annual Bursa Malaysia Berhad event for the global investing audience, will give Rustam the platform to make the keynote address.

Many people are working hard to showcase the diversity of Malaysia’s capital market and getting key multinational companies and global champions to drive economic growth within the Asean region.

At business gatherings, we all use our networking to impress upon our listeners that Malaysia is relevant and a prime attraction. We stress that we are not a banana republic with tribal and sectarian issues and that we are not doing the war dance and clubbing each other.

Malaysia has a sophisticated economic structure and whatever our weaknesses and failings, we need to move on next year.

The price of oil will be unstable over the next few years and we need to look at new sources of revenue to fill up our coffers. We cannot operate like we used to before.

If we have committed ourselves to taking up moderation to the international platform, we also need to practise it at the local level.

It will be seen as mere empty talk, if not double talk, if we preach moderation to the world, showcasing ourselves as a moderate Muslim country status, but allow those who preach racism locally to go untouched. In fact, they do not even get a slap on the wrist.

Malaysians of all races have been politically critical and, for sure, have been insulting each other for decades.

Umno and PAS politicians have gone for each other’s throats, in much more hostile situations. Fights and scuffles have even broken out.

Likewise, MCA-Gerakan and DAP have been slugging each other, simply because they can’t see eye to eye on many issues, and they also need to score political points.

Let’s admit it – political finesse and the ability to articulate the fine debating points have been never been the qualities of our politicians. Most times, they just shout at each other and, seriously, insult each other in Parliament. Westminster-style debates don’t exist at the Dewan Rakyat.

In my time covering Parliament, I have heard MPs making uncouth remarks, from calling fellow MPs “animals” to outrageous sexist remarks, forgetting that they, too, have mothers, wives and daughters.

Some opposition lawyer-politicians, after hurling insults, just want to get kicked out of Parliament so they can go to the courts next door to handle their cases.

Malaysians have spent too much unproductive hours on politics.

There are some political issues that we cannot resolve. This reality has to be accepted, if not managed realistically, so we can all move on next year.

We also need to stop being insecure, seeing shadows when there are none. It is also crucial that our leadership should be confident enough not to rely on these fringe groups that are taking advantage of the situa­tion.

Putting on silat or kung fu clothes, and waving the keris and sword, are only good for action movies. In modern life, the real fight is waged at the capital markets with traders, in jackets and ties, looking at their monitors.

Let us all get real – we have no time for a costume party.