Friday, June 1, 2018

Of donation drives and 'swimming upstream'

It would appear that as long as you question the popular decisions made by the current government, the most common counter you will get is you are pro-BN.

Other counter arguments are predicated upon the fact that your criticism is invalid if:
1. You never criticised the RM2.6billion issue
2. They can't find any postings where you criticised the BN government
3. You used to or still are receiving dedak from BN
4. You are a BN macai
5. You are stupid

With that said, I know this blog post will not mean much to those people but I'm going to write anyway because:
1. I am opinionated
2. I know there are those out there, perhaps a mere handful, who understand where I'm coming from

I have posted many times on Twitter that I am not and have never been someone with vested interest in the previous government. I have never received payment to defend them on my social media accounts. While I have been employed by pro-government news organisations, those were jobs. Simple example, even in the civil service, there were people then who did not support BN but worked for the government. A job, as long as it provides one with a halal source of income, is a job and should not be taken as a vow of allegiance that translates to having to defend your 'employers' in exchange for money, in your own personal time on your own personal space.

Why are people so bothered with my criticism of the current government? I have been very consistent in not supporting Pakatan Harapan from the time they were not working together as a coalition. I was never a Reformasi supporter, I never could get on board with Pakatan Rakyat and when PAS left and PPBM came into the picture which then saw the birth of PH, I still could not get on board with their pact.

Therein lies the other problem, the assumption that if a person is anti-PH, they must be pro-BN. This is not the case. It's like saying if you hate Star Wars, then you must be a Trekkie.

Then why is it I have not been so vocal about the RM2.6 billion donation issue. First of all, I don't usually let popular sentiments dictate my thought process. Secondly, I don't really fancy pretending to understand something I don't.

How many man on the street who are eagerly waiting for DS Najib Razak to be thrown in jail can say with full sincerity that they fully understand the 1MDB issue and the SRC International money trail etc which then goes into the RM2.6 billion matter? How many can detail the financial makeup of the whole allegation instead of simply saying 'Najib stole money from 1MDB, which is the rakyat's money, so his wife can buy handbags'? You don't have to reply this on an open platform just reply to yourselves.

I am not saying Najib is innocent, neither am I saying he is guilty. The 1MDB issue is a very complicated corporate dealing which honestly, I am not an expert of. The same goes for Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's BNM forex issue. The extent of my knowledge on forex is the Indian Muslim pengurup wang I go to exchange money before I go overseas. I never was interested in finance or economy or accounting. If I am anti-Mahathir = pro-Najib, wouldn't I have jumped on the bandwagon and accused Mahathir of committing a crime and should be jailed, akin to what people want to see happening to Najib now? The only thing I can say about the BNM thing is that the matter should be reinvistigated and those responsible of committing a crime be made to face the music. That is all. I cannot accuse anyone, be it Mahathir or Tun Daim Zainuddin or anyone else. I have not even accused Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng of corruption, when that is a favourite accusation amongst pro-BN quarters. I cannot accuse because the matter is still in court. The same goes for DS Anwar Ibrahim's sodomy allegations. I bear no love for Anwar and wish that he will never become the Prime Minister of Malaysia but that wish is not predicated upon his sexual preference. Despite the court having found him guilty of sodomy, I cannot consciously, on an open platform say that he is a homosexual because it is too personal an accusation and I do not think it has anything to do with his political aspirations. Homosexuality is illegal in Islam and if he is one, the sin is between him and God. It is not for me to judge especially when in a situation where it is not relevant for me to use it as the basis of any criticisms against him.

Back to Najib and 'stealing money', because I don't know for sure he stole money, and because he has yet to be charged in court, I shall not say much on that issue. Admittedly, as things are, it doesn't look good for him, but law dictates that everyone is innocent until proven guilty. Remember that the burden of proof is on the accuser, not the accused. Let rule of law prevail first before assuming that silence equals to support.

For people who have followed me on Twitter for a long time, as well as people who know me personally, if they so choose to look at things with an open mind, they can see that my criticism of PH has never been based on accusations of things that has never been proven. The extent of my comments on that will simply be that investigations should be carried out. But for the most part, I have only criticised things that are clear as day. For example, Tabung Harapan Negara.

Facts: Public came up with the idea of crowdfunding (evident from online collection), Marina Mahathir endorsed one such effort on her official Facebook account, PM announced the setting up of a fund to ensure no scammers will take advantage of patriotic Malaysians, fund was set up and Finance Ministry announced that in just under 24 hours, RM7million plus have been collected.

These are all facts. Which then led to my criticism of it. I was then told that if I do not wish to donate, then I should keep my mouth shut.

Allow me to ask this: how is it that when people call Najib pencuri, when no court in the world has handed down such a verdict upon him, that is acceptable? But when I criticise an open effort based on facts, I am asked to shut up?

Even if you so wish to label Najib a thief, that is your right. Just don't discount my opinions on other matters simply because I don't call him a thief. Should the court someday find him guilty of stealing from the rakyat, then you can criticise me if at that point I choose to defend him despite the court verdict.

With regard to Tabung Harapan, perhaps my latest comment on it did not produce the intended understanding amongst Netizens. I am told that what I said was akin to the argument that 'if I'm not hungry, then there is no such thing as world hunger'.

Perhaps that is how some people interpreted my tweet. And admittedly, I should have worded it better.

I completely understand that people are suffering. I was not discounting that simply because we managed to collect RM7 million in just a day. My intention was to highlight the war of perception.

In my tweet, I said '... suffering from what politicians said we were suffering from before GE14'.

The make-up of PH's pre-election campaign was that Najib and his cronies had devastated our coffers and had been stealing from the people and GST was a burden and people were suffering from high costs of living and fuel prices and toll and so many other things.

However, post-GE, people are suddenly willing to donate to pay for what they believed to be debts that Najib had racked up. The same Najib who made us suffer because he was stealing so his wife can buy handbags.

Allow me to point out the fine line between patriotism and misplaced patriotism. Before Merdeka, people donated their possessions so Tunku could go to London to negotiate our freedom. That is nothing like Tabung Harapan. People rallied at the time because there was no country, we were colonised and we had no government and no revenue from industries or taxes to pay for government expenses. We were on our own and we wanted to build a country. We were poor.

Fast forward to 2018, we are not a third world country. We are not even on the verge of bankruptcy.

Urban people, and netizens love to highlight suffering. When we say malls are full, that should mean we're doing okay, the argument gets shot down faster than a speeding bullet. While the argument may be partially flawed, it still rings true on some level. We talk about suffering but for the most part we still tend to ignore the hardcore poor. I don't do much to help the poor except for the occasional derma I give when people come to tables at restaurants, which is why I seldom pass remarks about urban sufferings because it isn't just the government making us suffer. We insist that we are suffering but what I wanted to know, is it perceived suffering or legit suffering like the hardcore poor? We rally so quickly to help pay the nation's debt but what about helping the hardcore poor? Can we raise RM7 million in under 24 hours to help rebuild dilapidated houses in interior areas so they can be a little bit more comfortable? I was presented with an assumed calculation of how we got to RM7 million. Here's my math, assuming it takes RM30,000 to fix up a house, with RM7million, we can fix up 233 houses. If we keep collecting, we can fix more. We can uplift the hardcore poor by giving them a little bit of comfort. Or maybe use the money to help train them with skills. Or to develop rural industries for them to make a living. The government is supposed to do that? Well the government is supposed to develop the country and pay debts. So why one and not the other?

The essence of my tweet is definitely not 'if there is a long queue for the new iPhone, we are all okay'. I was not relating purchasing power, donation drive and what have yous to discount sufferings. If you choose that as the takeaway from my tweet, nothing I can do except explain that wasn't the main point.

If I had wanted to say that and only that, I'd have simply written 'were we really suffering before GE14'. Instead I wrote '... suffering from what politicians said we were suffering from'. It is common knowledge that more often than not, what is perceived, is not really what is. If suffering is a cause for concern, I have yet to see announcements to benefit the hardcore poor apart from BR1M being continued. The announcements, most of them, are populist and serve the middle income earners, youths, etc.

Fight me with facts and rational arguments if you so wish but if you're going to dismiss me as a macai etc, I sympathise with your inability to deal with criticism against the masses. Don't expect me to go with the crowd if from my point of view, the crowd is just pushing one another towards the edge of a cliff. I may be wrong in my observations, but that's the nature of opinions and views.

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