Malaysia is reeling in confusion. The Malay-Muslim community is disturbed, disappointed and sometimes enraged by the death of a young firefighter.
Fireman Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim died on Monday after sustaining severe injuries on duty during the riots at a temple in Selangor.
With his death, the riot will become a stain in Malaysia’s history but it is certain the Pakatan Harapan government will take all necessary actions to punish the perpetrators.
Muhammad Adib, 24, was part of a team responding to a fire outside Seafield Sri Maha Mariamman temple on Nov 27. He was allegedly beaten up by the routers.
But what the Pakatan should do in this solemn moment in Malaysia’s history, is to quell an apparent simmering of racial and religious tensions in the country.
It is clear that the PH is having a problem. They are not able to run the show as a government with their minds thinking as the opposition at the same time.
Nurul Izzah’s resignation from both party and government posts is a clear example of the difficulties the PH MP’s are having in juggling the harsh realities of governing a country.
One cannot be an opposition member in a government. Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad complained about the ‘opposition’ mentality of some Ministers and of the Pakatan MP’s.
The PH taking power and ruling the country is new for Malaysia, which was used to the 61 years of rule under the Barisan Nasional.
In this state of affairs, some extreme forces are calling for the resignation of Indian ministers from the PH government, however uncalled for this is.\
And taking advantage of this situation, dark forces hidden in some closets, are active and are trying to undermine the PH regime.
This is not about the Umno or the PAS.
The Umno in particular, in its dying strides, is trying to hold on to twigs in order not to drown in this new dawn in Malaysia. This is understandable indeed, but it should not give in to pressures from these dark places and to extremist ideas.
Umno and PAS are the official opponents to the PH regime. They have sufficient parliamentary seats to push the PH to the limit, though they are losing steam with the leapfrogging of their MP’s to pro-Mahathir parties.
These dark forces however, unknown to the public and hidden in some closets, are trying to stir strife in the country.
The PAS and the Umno have their own agendas: ‘saving’ Islam and ‘reinstating’ Malay might. These will not really bite among the majority of the population.
The Malays are not unaware that the government is fully in the hands of the Malays in power. They have a Malay Prime Minister, a Malay Deputy Prime Minister in Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and a Malay Home Affairs Minister.
The PH has also done the magic of splitting the Min of Finance into two specific entities, handing the Finance segment to the DAP’s Lim Guan Eng and the ‘Economic’ aspects to another Malay leader, Azmin Ali.
This constitutes a very strong Malay led government with four Malay leaders on top of the echelon.
But it is not sufficient to quell the actions of some from these dark corners mentioned above who are calling for racial and religious strifes.
However, it is all reminiscent of the days of Najib Razak as PM. That was also the time when the Umno, feeling power slipping away from its grip, started a virulent campaign to save itself.
But it failed. It lost the elections though – unfortunately enough for the new Malaysia – it was given a lifeline with a bogus issue, the ICERD.
Nevertheless, while the ICERD is treated as a bygone issue by the PH. for the Umno and the PAS, it is still a big issue. And they are bound to play it time and again to galvanise their troops.
Yet, in the current confused state in Malaysia, amid the rage of some for the attack on their temple, and of others for the death of a young man with a promising career who was to get married this month, the PH must be on the alert.
It is time for it to have a defined timeline for its reform agenda. First of all, it has to settle the issues that are piling up in the education sector.
The people are waiting to see what does the PH have in store that will be better than the education policy practised by the BN.
If the PH wants to keep to its manifesto, which is not a desirable thing to do, then it will probably fail. There is no doubt the education system in Malaysia has its failings. It should be restructured, reorganised and unified according to some.
The PH government is strong enough to impose itself but sources are saying the weakest link is the Ministry of Education itself. That is for the PH to fix.
The PH must also have a very defined economic agenda. Shunning the Malay-Muslim community in this agenda will bring the PH to suffer multiple cuts with painful consequences.
There is no escaping the fact that the Malays want to maintain the economic aid and assistance they believe they are entitled to, and the PH should do lip service here.
But that does not mean the PH cannot open up to the other communities in need. There are other Muslim communities in Malaysia that deserve the same treatment.
There are also the Indians and the Chinese who need assistance.
The answer is in a broader economic policy that would help the new government maintain its good track record and consolidate its power by touching base with the poorer segments of the society, to begin with.
A manifesto is not written in stone. The Umno, the PAS and the dark forces trying to undermine the PH know that. But it is the naivety of the PH leadership (the new leaders in power) that has caught the attention of their detractors.
To curb on this infiltration within the PH – an infiltration through the civil service and the political parties in power – the government of Dr Mahathir must roll out a pretty defined timeline.
This timeline should override some of the hasty promises made in the manifestos, and it should also set the agenda for the game-changing deal for the country.
In the end, may the untimely passing of fireman Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim be remembered by all for the bravery of the young Malaysian citizen and may this not be used to divide a country that was so united on May 9.