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The rakyat are waiting to pocket the cash handouts that the government will be dishing out next year after polls are called but are just as eager to oust the ruling coalition, says Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim. “Even though people will be receiving the (RM500) BR1M (Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia), but I am confident that they are biding their time to cast out the BN,” he declared at the Himpunan Kebangkitan Rakyat (People’s Uprising Assembly) in Kota Baru last night. This uprising, Anwar said, was similarly reflected in rallies across the nation including Sabah and Sarawak previously described as the BN’s fixed deposit states.

“They (BN) are aware of this which is why they are becoming violent to the extent that we, including our friends in PAS, have become accustomed (to being targeted),” he said. The night’s rally itself, Anwar said, was testimony to his declaration as some 50,000 people, armed with, yellow, orange, green and red flags thronged the Sultan Muhamed VI Stadium. The colours represent several prominent protests groups of recent years, namely the Bersih, Felda rights, anti-Lynas and Kelantan royalty movements. Beyond symbolism, the gathering tonight was part of a series of Pakatan-driven rallies to capitalise on the existence of the diverse dissenting groups united against the government ahead of the looming polls to culminate in the mother of all rallies in Kuala Lumpur on Jan 12.

Graft probe challenge to BN

“Once we capture Putrajaya, the demands of yellow, orange, green, red, we will fulfill them all,” declared PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu as the sea of people waved the flags of four colours. Taking the podium later, PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang broomed away Umno’s stand that corruption happens across the board in countering its self-confessed corruption perception problem, insisting that it wasn’t so in Pakatan-led states. “If there are states led by Pakatan that indulge in corruption, then relinquish power, we do not want a corrupt state. If what Umno claim is true, then investigate,” he said.

However, DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang said Umno’s issue with corruption was not merely perception but fact. Noting PAS’ commitment to join hands with Pakatan in capturing Putrajaya at its muktamar earlier in the day, Lim referred to several of the ruling coalition’s attack lines suggesting that the ‘unholy union’ with the DAP would threaten the Malay community. “They (BN) say if Pakatan wins power, Malays will lose power… the position of the monarchs would be threatened and Islam sidelined… Malays would be beggars in their own land… is this true?” he asked repeatedly to a loud “No!” from from the crowd each time .

Lim (left) said this was the first time since independence where a change of government was in sight with victory hingeing on the unity within Pakatan. “Our success will depend on the unity and commitment of all parties within Pakatan by moving in unison with the same objectives, let’s show we are different from the BN,” he said.

By CT Ali

Why do we want to change the most successful political entity in our country’s history? Umno has never failed itself! Like him, hate him; whatever you may think of Anwar Ibrahim, you cannot ignore him. His presence is overwhelming. For his detractors, he is the very personification of the excesses of Umno during his time as deputy prime minister and yet for those that have given up on Umno, he is the rising phoenix. And having risen from the ashes, he now soars like an eagle above everything else and waits to land. When and where will that eagle land? For those of you who are now in doubt about what good your vote can do in the millions to be cast during the 13th general election, I ask that you think again.

How do you think Anwar was able to keep his sanity and the fire burning within him to bring much- needed change to the way our government works throughout his solitary confinement in Sungai Buloh? You and I have not reached the heights of office that he has, so we would never know what really went through his mind through the years of incarceration, but this much I know: he would have had enough time to reflect on the future – his and ours. His future and ours will be determined by that vote you will cast among the millions on polling day. If you have persuaded yourself that you want our government to do things differently, then you can be rest assured that there will be others of similar mind. If enough of us are persuaded thus, there we have it, our ability to make change happen.

Umno won’t change

But what do we want to change? Umno? Why do we want to change the most successful political entity in our country’s history? Umno has never failed itself. Every political pundit, every analyst worth talking to, every authority worth his salt and every expert on the future of Malaysia, most of them confidently say that the time for Umno’s demise is nigh. Are any of them aware that Umno has won all of the last 12 general elections? At every twist and political turn, Umno has emerged victorious. How can you say Umno has failed itself when it has been the only government in Malaysia since independence? Every prime minister has been from Umno.

What has Umno set out to do, it has done.

Make every Umno president, their families, relatives, cronies, peers and sahabats wealthy beyond their wildest dreams? Done! Make Ketuanan Melayu its cornerstone for political survival? Done! Ensure that ethnicity – namely the Malays – will numerically outnumber the others through dedicated “pendatang asing” policies that welcome these immigrants and grant them citizenship – and in this way – ensures that the Malays now make up 60% of Malaysia’s population? Done!

Cement this numerical superiority by propagating a race-based “Ketuanan Melayu” policy that gives priority, economic advantage and “first among equals” advantage to the Malays in education, work opportunities and in all things Malaysian? Done! Ensure that all government departments and agencies, MACC, EPF, police, Rela and the armed forces are at the beck and call of their political masters? Done! Institutionalised money politics and endemic corruption into every nook and cranny of politics and into every facet of government functions? Done!

Power of our vote

It would be hard to persuade Umno and those that support Umno that we need to change the Umno-led Barisan Nasional government because it has been very successful in doing what it has wanted to do for itself. And there are many millions that think that there is no need to change this BN government. So the question we must ask ourselves today is this: are there enough of us out there who want change the way our government works? Are there enough of us to ensure that this happens? And we want change not through an armed insurrection, not through the winds of change that the Arab Spring blew violently across the Middle East, no, not through any other way but through the ballot box – our votes – if we are allowed to cast it freely at this 13th general election.

That is why every one of your votes counts.

That is why we want to change this Umno that has never failed itself but has certainly failed the people of Malaysia too many times in too many ways and for too long a time. It is time we ensured the survival of our nation by having a truly representative democracy – and this we can do by voting in a government of the people, by the people, for the people.
~CT Ali is a reformist who believes in Pakatan Rakyat’s ideologies. He is a FMT columnist.

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