Stop making too many Gostans
Published on: Sunday, September 08, 2019
By: Johan Arriffin
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“Gostan” is a Malay contraction of a nautical term to “go astern” or go backwards. It can be used as an expression “gostan balik” (to reverse). The Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq posting photos on his Instagram account of Zakir Naik and him having a meal together is a good example of a gostan balik. Syed Saddiq probably thought it was a proud moment, but the whimsical out of the blue PR publicity invited more criticisms and showed the weaknesses of our current leaders. Weeks earlier he called for Zakir Naik to be deported. 

Right thinking Malaysians were aghast of the cosiness displayed by a Minister on a hot potato issue which is still consuming Malaysians. This issue which has already divided the nation will not go away until Zakir Naik leaves Malaysia. Some said of the prodigy Minister – good looking but naïve.

Syed Saddiq is the face of youth in the PH government. He represents the hope of the young voters who voted for change in GE14. Instead we got the same tired old politics of the Umno era. Some say PH is now an exact replica of the BN government, nothing has changed. We were proud in May 2018 that we have the oldest Prime Minister in the world, breaking all records. What is there to be proud of now? 

The younger voters who wanted a leadership change vehemently did not want Mahathir, and even started a movement to boycott the elections. Now I can understand their suspicions. History is repeating itself and it’s hard for leopards to change its spots Syed Saddiq Instagram postings sums up what is wrong with the Malaysian government. I must stop saying PH government, or BN government, Mahathir and Syed Saddiq represents the government, the government of Malaysia. Malaysia as a nation should come first and we must not repeat the same racial, religious, political rhetoric and crowd pleasing antics of the BN era.

In the state of Sabah, the government is not spared. Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) Information Chief Joniston Bangkuai said the State Government’s inconsistent stand has raised eyebrows of many. 

In July it was reported about 100,000 job applications were received by the Sabah Public Service Commission for 401 job vacancies. Where did the rejected ones go? Did they manage to find jobs in the private sector? Have they made an exodus from the state to find jobs in West Malaysia and foreign countries? 

Last year around the same period, the Sabah Ministry of Trade and Industry under Madius Wilfred Tangau announced it aims to create 600,000 job opportunities by 2023, under the small and medium enterprises (SME) sector. 

The latest statistics shows the unemployment rate has increased and we are far from creating the 600,000 jobs. It is very unlikely we can create 200,000 jobs per year by 2023. Floating nice figures is one thing but putting words into actions is another thing. The fact that 100,000 people chased 401 jobs in Sabah shows that we need more SME industries and the use of digital technology in a sharing economy to promote self employment. We read many Sabahans have left the state to look for jobs in foreign countries, end up being exploited and deported home with nothing in their pockets.

Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) policy and strategy bureau chief Rais Hussin Mohamed Ariff said the government will lose federal power if the 15th General Election (GE15) is held tomorrow . His frank views are being echoed by other component party leaders. “The euphoria of winning the general election last year has died down, and with it, came a democratic backlash over the many concerns faced by the public” said Rais. 

He warned that these concerns, including the issues of unemployment, cost of living and skewed priorities that affect the Malay-Muslims in particular, would be the determining factor in GE15, especially if nothing was done to address them. 

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has admitted weakness in communicating the success of its policies as the reason behind Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) dwindling popularity among the public. “The press loves controversy. So that’s why I find it difficult to comment on controversial matters,” said Dr Mahathir. Another Trump like statements from Mahathir. If you can’t clearly articulate your policies and display erratic behavior, don’t blame the press.

Khat is a good example of poor communication and u-turns. What is khat? - Arabic, Muslim, racial issues, Maszlee fun games, art, calligraphy, compulsory not compulsory, elective subject, hours spent on learning, how many pages etc.,etc. The public is confused, the cabinet is confused, the whole country is confused. Isn’t that poor communication? The current style of government is to shoot from the hip first, clarify and defend later when everyone is already hot on the issue. It’s a waste of people’s time and energy. Don’t blame the press for the mess you created.

Similarly, the people in Sabah need to know details of the Papar Dam and the Tanjung Aru project. The government needs to articulate and communicate and transparency will go a long way to allay peoples fear and mistrusts.

If you look at the current writings of opinion from intellectuals, writers, and the Malay middle class, many are saying down the road it is better for Malaysians to migrate to another country. They are also saying it would better for our children to be educated overseas and stay working there. 

At least we don’t have to deal with holier than–thou–Muslims who says, “Only enemies of Islam want preacher Zakir Naik to be extradited, says a PAS leader. No Muslim would agree that Zakir be booted out of the country unless he is a hypocrite and a sinner”. I am a Malaysian Muslim, why should I be publicly condemned by a PAS leader as a sinner and hypocrite while an Indian fugitive wanted in India and banned in several countries is seen cozying with the PM and our ministers as if he is the centre of the earth.

I wonder if Malaysians can claim asylums in Commonwealth countries like UK and Canada because we are harboring Zakir Naik. Zakir Naik should be enough grounds as these countries with significant Muslim population must have investigated him thoroughly to ban his entry. 

Many of us would hesitate to leave the country of birth and the country you love. Unless the nyanyuk gomen change their ways, we might see a mass migration if Zakir Naik is installed as our new religious leader.

I always understood that our Sultans are the head of religion in each state. Now I am confused as to who is the religious authority in Malaysia as I am with khat as a school curriculum. Can the Malaysian Cabinet, with Sabah representatives take time to think through what they are proposing especially when it comes to sensitive areas like religion, race relations and education and learn to communicate to the general public before making embarrassing gostan that stirs emotions and endless debate. 

Taking the cue from former US President Bill Clinton campaign line, “it’s the economy stupid”, the Federal and state government should concentrate on improving the economy and job creation and not get distracted on issues like khat and Zakir Naik which does not bring any real benefit to the nation as a whole. Under the new government we are supposed to go forward and not gostan on our election promises.

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