Malaysians are now spectators in an unfolding drama, where the narrative seems set in the right direction and where mostly everyone knows the answers, but still can’t quite believe it is all really turning out this way.
What is happening before eveyone’s eyes is regime change in action, yet thanks to the determination of the country’s new leaders and Malaysia’s settled history of law and order, the process is continuing in a structured and peaceful way.
Officials are being replaced and cronies edged out; inquiries and task forces are being set up; suspects have been identified and targeted for investigation and in some cases extradition and arrest.
This does not mean there have not been heart-stopping moments and behind the scenes manoeuvres to cause friction and somehow snatch a last minute reversal from defeat on the part of certain wishful thinkers, who once ruled BN (those are stories for another day).
However, with every minute that has passed their desperate hopes have waned and their schemes have faltered. One by one the key lieutennants of the past regime have been deposed, their corrupted hands wrenched from the levers of power, leaving the nation safer for it.
No one should under-estimate the extraordinary nature of these events nor the extent of the revolution underway. Malaysia had gone so far down the path of despotism that to achieve such a reversal has been near on miraculous. It happened, mainly thanks to the conviction of people, who had been in charge so long they thought that change could never come.
Today, the former Communications Minister, Salleh Keruak (once the bane of Sarawak Report’s outspoken criticism of his boss) even quoted SR’s own favourite maxim: that the only thing that never changes is change itself. Yet, until that change was staring them in the face the rulers of BN refused to believe that what had always been could not always be.
Likewise, passionate and dedicated though they were, most reform activists in Malaysia couldn’t believe it either – most were resigned against the hope of change.
It was this failure to quantify the opposition threat by cosseted leaders and their clientelle of crony publicists (not a single mainstream news organisation, financial analyst or pollster predicted Najib could ever lose) that nevertheless enabled the shock outcome of GE14.
Indeed, during the run-up to polling BN’s opponents knew they must continue to allow Najib to think that he would wipe the board as everyone predicted. Otherwise, the prime minister might not have even allowed the election to take place and he would probably have got away with it. Fortunately, surrounded by pleasers and sycophants, Najib simply failed to grasp that total wipe out stared him in the face (when complaints of BN cheating and rigging are examined their seats look set to be further reduced).
This miracle is now being carried through to conclusion thanks to the genius of a few great leaders, currently heading the parties of the new ruling coalition. They recognise that in future Malaysia needs protect itself not through people but through institutions and long-term inviolable principles – there must be checks and balances, due process must be observed and the judiciary must be independent.
The new Prime Minister has learnt about this the hard way. He took immense powers during his past tenure, as the leader of a newly minted nation. Now he understands that for the future, those powers must be balanced and there must be transparency to protect the people from thieves in the night, who creep in to steal when too much power in concentrated in the hands of a secretive few.
No one can be above these principles nor above criticism either. That includes princes and prime ministers; because no human being is free from potential corruption and once corruption has been established it spreads like cancer.
It is clear these very measures are the priority of the present new administration. The checks and balances will be put in place and penalties will be paid by those who have broken the law. This is the only way to establish the rule of law. There should be no deals, no immunities, everyone must be equal when it comes to criminal actions. Why should a shoplifter go to jail and yet a grand political thief escape due punishment?
When this work is done, there is already a leader waiting to take over from an old man who wants to repair the damange. Malaysians have the privilege of watching a great political work in progress and should continue not to shy from raising their public voices if they fear a stray from purpose.