A blawg debut for Syaza Shukri.
As a political science graduate from the United States, I was asked by many of my peers and colleagues if I thought Obama would win his second term in office in 2012. I told them to wait and ask again in February of 2012.
The rationale behind it is simple. In my American politics class, we were taught that throughout American history, the success of an incumbent party to win a majority of the popular vote is highly correlated to the unemployment rate of the nation in February of the election year. A low employment rate translates to a good economy, and February is the cut-off month as it gives people just enough time to decide who they will be voting for when November comes.
When February of 2012 came, and I received the numbers on the unemployment rate in the US, I announced to my friends quite confidently that Obama was going to win.
Why am I giving you a cheat sheet on American politics? Because I believe that the same situation applies to any nation in the world. Most people are not interested in scandals that are remotely affecting them (although there is no denying the eventual impact on them).
Most people — and by most I mean those on the lower end of the social class — are more interested in the economy and the value of what little they earn each month. This is proven by research done in the country, which found in January that a majority of Malaysians are mostly worried about cost of living, jobs, and housing.
Am I downplaying the recent and ongoing shockwave sent throughout the nation? No, I am not. It is a horrible time for democracy-loving Malaysians regardless of whoever’s prerogative it was to put deputies into power.
I digress. My point is that, when the economy goes down the drain like what is happening now, it does not matter how foreign entities are rating us. Malaysians from all walks of life are feeling the pain of this economic woe. Everyone is tightening their belts.
I know of a wealthy Datuk who annually treats his corporate clients to buka puasa feasts at hotels, but could not afford to do so this year. Can you imagine the Datuks with six grandchildren living in the kampungs?
Unless you fix the economy and explain the whereabouts of the billions of ringgit from a state investment fund, you can surround yourself with as many security personnel as you want, but just know that the people are hungry, and that is the worst enemy any leader would want to face.
The people don’t necessarily have to use extra-legal means to get their point across. If Malaysia subscribes to democracy as it proudly proclaims, the wishes of the people will be heard, sooner or later. Unfortunately, Malaysia is a flawed democracy, with a first-past-the-post system that does not equate popularity with seats in government. As a political science graduate, I understand the benefits of such a system to the regime and to the people, so please do not ask me to leave the country. But one way or another, the creative democrats of this country will one day have our voices heard, and hopefully, that voice will sing in harmony with the rest of the Executive.