Monday, December 27, 2021

What flood says of this government for the people

S Thayaparan

“A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves.”

- Edward R Murrow

COMMENT | Around this time, I usually put forward my own top news story and newsmaker of the year.

This year, however, for me at least, the top news story is the flood and how the aftermath was badly mismanaged but more importantly, the ordinary Malaysians who come out to help their brethren in this time of crisis.

When it comes to the situation in Selangor, for instance, what we have seen is total incompetency and blame-shifting from the people who always claimed to be the better choice or “the lesser of two evils” – the common speak of partisans.

Meanwhile, the federal government’s response borders, I believe, on the criminally negligent.

This flood has exposed not only the systemic dysfunction of a federal bureaucracy that only exists to sustain the hegemonic interests of ketuanan political parties but also the indifference of political elites towards the rakyat.

Can you imagine the deep cynicism and complete indifference to the suffering of flood victims when Women, Family and Community Development Minister Rina Harun stages her clean-up efforts?

I know this was staged because various volunteers and citizens have been sending me images of what it took to stage such an event.

Indeed, so mendacious was this stunt, that an old PAS friend, who is carrying out relief efforts on behalf of PAS, was livid and went on a long text rant about how “uncaring” this publicity stunt was.

If average citizens did not rise to the challenge, this could have been much worse. What this flood has demonstrated is that the rakyat cannot rely on the government.

The old conservative in me, who was always distrustful of big government, was conflicted because, even at a local level, the rakyat was let down.

Women, Family and Community Development Minister Rina Harun

Of course this being Malaysia, there were incidents where some folks decided that it was a good time to bring in race and religion.

The fact that the hard work and spirit of volunteerism by all ethnic groups centred in a gurdwara was called into question by certain elements is further proof (as if we needed any) that the racial and religious indoctrination by the political establishment threatens to destroy the fabric of Malaysian society.

Remember when in July of this year, PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang was reported in the press as saying that any decisions made in managing a disaster should place religion above other matters, including to preserve economic interests.

This is why the current government handing out token sums to people who have lost everything, is just sickening.

Federal government failed

Meanwhile, politicians from both sides of the aisle were in damage control mode.

All of which is pointless because there is enough blame to go around, but the cold hard truth is that the federal government failed in carrying out its responsibilities and obligations.

Agencies such as the police and the fire and rescue services failed in meeting the task that they were supposed to be trained for.

For years the PDRM arrogantly claimed that they had the best interest of the rakyat at heart.

Honestly, with all the scandals facing the police force, one would have thought that this was the time when they mobilised and rose to the occasion.

Instead, they seem more interested in stopping an assemblyperson from greeting the big cheese.

I may be biased but the situation could have been a lot worse if the army did not step in.

The fact is that the armed services, and their various tributaries, should have been mobilised. But instead, a certain kind of paralysis prevented the political apparatus from discharging its duties.

This paralysis happens when you spend most of your time – if you are a Malay uber alles party promoting racial and religious supremacy – and if you are the opposition, telling everyone that you would do things differently but unfortunately, you don’t.

As someone from the state security apparatus who can remember a time, when the government was at least functioning even if mired in the slowly simmering tensions of race and religion, I know, what a functional response is, to these natural disasters.

At least they were natural at one time, but corporate and political interests sustained by cronyism and corruption made such disasters unnatural.

I mean, are folks still wondering why federal and state authorities are carrying out projects which are obviously detrimental to the urban ecosystem?

Honestly, most of our “natural disasters” are self-inflicted. One coalition starts something which is obviously going to cause problems down the road and the other merely carries on the project blaming the actions of the coalition that preceded it.

Does this sound familiar? How has that been working out for Malaysians?

The glimmer of hope in this tragedy is that while the government did not rise to the challenge, average Malaysians rose to the challenge.

They showed compassion and empathy that is missing from the political apparatus. They did the hard work of organising and going out to face the vagaries of the flood head-on, instead of doing drive-bys.

Maybe we should reclaim the term “Malaysia Boleh” because those folks demonstrated they had the right stuff, unlike the current government.

As the new year approaches, I recall Romans 14:19 – “So then, let us pursue what leads to peace and to mutual edification.”

It's been good talking to you this year, Malaysia, whoever you are.

S THAYAPARAN is Commander (Rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy. Fīat jūstitia ruat cælum - “Let justice be done though the heavens fall.”


  1. Rather than wasting your airtimes on Rina Harun why not channel your creative writings on more important things such as investigatiing on

    as it may affect the life and properties of many people.

  2. Luckily we don't have war during this commander's entire service period. He seems full of hate toward the government

  3. The writer proudly claims he is a retired commander of the Malaysian Navy to lend credence to his writing, never has anything good to write about the Malaysian government. Maybe it's time for the army HQ to exercise penalties on him for breaking The Code of Conduct for the Retired Armies.

    If one follows his writings one can see his subtle racist facade camouflaged with good intent underneath.

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