ON May 9, when the country ushered in “Malaysia Baharu”, Malaysians had high hopes and expectations of the incoming government.
Five months into this historical feat, some are beginning to wonder if “Malaysia Baharu” is just a change in political parties governing the country, and not so much of the promised change that Malaysians expected.
Is this a case of too many expectations, or is it inexperience of the leaders manifesting itself?
There have been fumbles by some new ministers, but it is unfair and too early to label them as failures. They, however, need to be reminded that there is only so much patience the people can bear.
It is also disturbing to note the lack of concern shown by some government supporters. Some even have the audacity to defend what is generally accepted, even by their own leaders and supporters, to be ethically or morally wrong.
For example, when Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng’s corruption charges were dropped, the country was shocked and when I opined that the attorney-general should offer a rationale as to why they were dropped, my Twitter timeline was inundated with comments and remarks defending and justifying the move.
The most used argument was that “it is within the A-G’s powers” to decide which case warranted prosecution and which did not.
When I reminded them of how they lampooned the former attorney-general, who gave the same reason not to prosecute former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, they either retreated or offered the standard go-to argument of “BN did worst” or “BN did it too”.
Similarly, when the education minister was appointed president of the International Islamic University Malaysia, some of his supporters tried to justify it with reasons, that there is a precedent and he will save the university money by foregoing his salary.
The defence was, conversely, not as vociferous as that of the finance minister’s, which is fascinating and disturbing on its own.
No matter how one spins it, two wrongs do not make a right. I find it baffling how some of the supporters have become the very people they once hated — the blind Barisan Nasional supporters who defended the coalition even when it was wrong.
Have we become a society of non-thinking individuals that we can’t even distinguish right from wrong, or what is not moral and ethical, anymore?
I can’t help but ask: to what extent and for how long will this “zombieism” last?
To many Malaysians, including its supporters, one of BN’s biggest weaknesses was its inability to accept criticisms, even when they were fair and constructive.
BN was seen to be beyond reproach and even had rabid fanatics to attack those who dared to censure the then government.
A lot of people have said that such haughtiness, coupled with the condescending behaviour of its supporters, were among the reasons that led to BN’s downfall and its shocking loss in the 14th General Election.
But four months into the new government’s tenure, we are seeing the same signs of blind loyalty and condescending manner on the part of PH supporters.
While certain leeway and understanding must be given to the government and its leaders, as most of them are inexperienced, the same latitude should not be accorded to the “zombies” who support them.
If this political leader worship continues, PH will be negatively perceived as being beyond reproach as BN was.
It is worth pointing out that the least the non-performing leaders could do is to censure their supporters for such antagonistic and baseless defence, which will only lead to more criticisms and questions vis-à-vis their competencies and performances.
“Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” ( The more things change, the more they stay the same), so said French critic Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr. And, with what’s happening in the country right now, it’s beginning to feel just like that.
Ibrahim Ivan Omar heads Brand Strategy at The In/Out Movement, an ensemble of thinkers, creatives and perfectionists who believe in doing right things right. He can be reached via ivan.omar@theiomovement. com; or on Twitter: @ckliio9