Conservative Muslims and Christians, young and old, yuppies and the unemployed formed the tens of thousands of protesters who have thrown Egypt’s 30-year-old regime headed by President Hosni Mubarak into turbulence. The uproars immediately saw its effect globally from the price of crude oil to shivers into some leaders elsewhere.
It’s interesting to note that while the red-shirt uprising in Thailand, closest neighbour up north, didn’t raise any eyebrows, the uprising in Egypt which is thousands of miles away sent shivers into the spine of Najib Razak, PM of Malaysia. Najib has warned against any attempt to usurp power in Malaysia, using demonstrations like those in Egypt.
The simple social-economic fact that such protests would not happen in Malaysia was insufficient to convince Najib that he may face the same embarrassment of being kicked out from office as Mubarak. Najib repetitively assured Malaysians that his administration will always put the interests of the people first although many took it with a pinch of salt considering extremists such as Perkasa is flourishing under his approval and corruptions is escalating.
Najib also boasted that the country was granted rare privilege in the airlifting of Malaysians from Egypt to Jeddah because of his wife and his personal ties with the Saudi Royal House. He was particularly proud that he received a call from Saudi Arabia at 2:30am (Malaysia time) despite the fact that it was actually 9:30pm in Saudi Arabia. Netizens were having a good laugh at the cheap and silly publicity stunt.
But the question remains – why Prime Minister Najib Razak is so afraid that the peoples’ uprising in Tunisia and Egypt would reach Malaysia? Well, if the uprising cast fears into former PM Mahathir who ruled the country for 22-year with iron-fist, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to measure the amount of nervousness among the ruling government BN politicians.
Mahathir was quick to comment that democracy and a new leader does not necessary mean a better Egypt because power corrupts but clearly he has forgotten that he was the most corrupted person during his reign. As much as Najib and Mahathir rubbished such uprising is what the country needs to change for a better government, Mahathir’s daughter, Marina thinks such explosion of anger could also be repeated in Malaysia.
It’s true that people don’t revolt just to be trendy hence if it can happen to the conservative Muslims in Egypt there’s no doubt it can happen to the liberal Muslims in Malaysia. The only carrot that is stopping Malaysians from taking to the streets is the fact that jobs are still abundance although the stagnant income, low standards of living, blatant corruptions, police suppression and whatnot are getting out of control.
There’re many similarities or reasons Egypt took to the streets may be copied in Malaysia so the single factor of employment may not necessarily be the tipping point. You may just need another copy of Egyptian Wael Ghonim, a 30-year-old Google Inc.’s (Nasdaq: GOOG, stock) marketing manager whose Facebook page helped start the uprising, to start a round of protest in Malaysia.
The ball is in Najib’s court whether to change for the better or risk taking the earliest flight out of the country when the suppression and oppression either politically or economically become unbearable to the people. But then maybe the ruling government Barisan Nasional is lucky again that there’s another silver bullet – the ethnic Chinese can be made the scapegoat once again, just like in May 1969.
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