SETAHUN MALAYSIA BAHARU
The year 2014 could be said to be the year when Malaysians went into a regressive mode. This year saw two major calamities involving Malaysian Airlines. Soon after, in 2015, the mother of all scandals known as 1MDB erupted putting the nation in a shock.
Regression in large groups at national level takes place when a majority of the population (be it ethnic, national or religious groups) experience certain anxieties. It involves a society facing massive trauma involving loss of life, property or prestige and often time humiliation.
The Unites States for example went into regression after the tragic incidents of 9 September 2001. When a large group or nation regresses, the leader’s role becomes crucial. When a regressed large group has a strong leader, the signs and symptoms of its regression express themselves differently than when there is no such leader.
In the US for example after the 9/11 trauma, the entire nation rallied behind its leader, President George W. Bush Jr. Even the normally critical media and opponents of Bush became muted and rallied behind him providing him with the necessary support to handle the tragic event.
The challenge to the new leadership has just begun. There is a major gap between the expectations of the people and reality. To undo the damage created by more than ten years of gross mismanagement will take much longer than we expect
In Malaysia, when the large group regression began to surface in or around 2015, we saw the re-emergence of Tun Dr Mahathir.
Psychoanalysts such as Volkan, say that in a regressed state, a strong leader and his team reinforces the groups’ symptoms and may encourage the followers either to remain in a regressed state or make attempts at progression.
It was at about this time that Malaysia saw divergent leadership emerging strongly. On one hand was the former Prime Minister Dato Seri Najib who attempted to keep the nation in a regressed state so that he could continue to engage in his kleptocratic behaviour. Psychoanalysts agree that regression in large groups is subject to manipulation by political leaders.
On the polar opposite was Tun Dr Mahathir who could no longer tolerate the situation in the country resulting in him coming out aggressively to bring the nation back to progression.
The damage of the previous leadership was so great that many leaders in the opposition then (such as Lim Kit Siang, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Mat Sabu etc.) rallied behind Tun Dr Mahathir.
This rallying behind a strong leader at the time of crisis resulted in the historical consequence of uprooting Barisan National (read UMNO) from power after 61 years.
Having achieved the success of changing the government, many people fantasise that the task is over and that milk and honey will flow through the nation.
In reality however, the challenge to the new leadership has just begun. There is a major gap between the expectations of the people and reality. To undo the damage created by more than ten years of gross mismanagement will take much longer than we expect. One can sense the impatience of various stakeholders in the nation – the rakyat, NGOs, professional bodies and others (including the current opposition parties) to correct the wrong.
Here it is appropriate to remind the various parties that the entire nation, with the exception of a small minority, is guilty of colluding with the previous government in bringing the near collapse of the nation’s economy.
Our culture of not criticising the leadership resulted in almost the entire nation suffering in silence. A few who plucked their courage to speak against the leader were sacked by the former Prime Minister (for example, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin).
When the entire nation tolerated the misbehaviour of the previous leadership for decades, we seem to be impatient with the new leadership when it’s been in power for just one year.
What is required of the rakyat to put the country back to progression is to suspend judgement for the time being and provide space, support and trust in the leadership and rally behind the leader
It is always easier to destroy than to build. We have seen how easy it is to bring down even high-rise buildings which can be completely flattened within days for redevelopment. To replace with another new building will take years. So is nation building – to destroy is easy, to rebuild is challenging.
At the first anniversary of Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) administration what we as rakyat need to do is rally behind the leadership to help our leaders rebuild the nation. It is ironic that people who played dumb for almost ten years when the government was mismanaged seem so impatient when the rebuilding has just begun.
What PH led government has done to date is to relook at the allocation of scarce resources and redirect these resources as efficiently as possible (e.g. renegotiating ECRL and other infrastructure projects). This is a basic economic principle ignored by the previous government.
Other institutional changes are being undertaken albeit at a slow pace. These changes however are intangible at best. Their values would only be felt in the long run. Once the mission of correcting the anomalies in economic development as well as administration is completed, the rakyat will then feel the tangible economic benefits.
What is required of the rakyat to put the country back to progression is to suspend judgement for the time being and provide space, support and trust in the leadership and rally behind the leader. Otherwise the country runs the risk of falling into the trap “the operation was successful but the patient died.”