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Where Is The Messiah Malaysians Need? – OpEd


Will the time come when Malaysians refuse to go out to vote? I suppose that is a very American question as it entails one’s understanding of the ridiculousness of politics and the believe that voting has become a meaningless act, although one may quote Plato who might say that the punishment for not going out to vote will be to be governed by inferiors.

But Malaysians are beginning to think like cynics, hopeless romantics, couldn’t care-less citizens, and people having enough of lies and empty promises fed to them by their elected representatives.

Maybe the young and the urban dwellers are beginning to feel that political life is hopeless and the future is bleak as we feel the country turning totalitarian. Maybe fear is also a factor, at a time when the government in power are threatening with arrests and jail those speaking about injustices, corruption, and abuse of power.

Maybe Malaysians are now more concerned with survival issues and how to feed their family or put food on their table and of the rising cost of living and how not to work a third job.

This past decade has seen that feeling of ‘dread’, as the Danish philosopher Soren Kiekergaard would term it as, engulfing.

It is a feeling mental fatigue of being fed with stories of abusers of power not getting punished, a steady diet of news reports on massive corruption, new tax imposed, ugly fighting between the Najib Abdul Razak and Dr Mahathir Mohamad camps, political murders most foul and brutal covered and unresolved, increasing unemployment, failure of government-linked companies that have public investments gravely affected, the country made famous by the international media by stories of money-laundering and political murders, threats of succession by states such as Johor, Sabah and Sarawak – all these are making the people feeling the dread and will plunge them into depression.

Malaysians are now living in an emotionally toxic environment. What will the coming elections mean to them, with the most recent revelation that their prime minister was given a generous donation by a Saudi king/prince to make sure that the government will continue to be elected?

The most recent ‘Kedah Move’, i.e. the replacement of the current chief minister perhaps because of vendetta and a ‘Godfather-movie’ plot of the Najib-Mahathir war is also an example of a national trigger of citizen depression created by endless conflicts.

But these conflicts are largely between old money and new money, old school and new school politics, and one to settle old scores. For the common man and woman, it has no meaning except to cheer for this and that camp once in a while and of course a good current issue topic for kopitiam and warong talk.

Julius Caesar and Brutus unplugged

Herein lie the new Malaysian predicament. We have always hoped that once new people are put into power to serve the rakyat, ideas should rule and move nations, not greed and the never ending political wars to get rich and get richer while the poor pay for the riches and to also pay for the popcorns or kuachi or dried watermelon seeds watching the wayangs and sandiwara of Malay Macbeths or Julius Caesar and Brutus unplugged.

So, are we Malaysians now hopelessly devoted to the dread and drama of desperation of the politicians who do not have an ounce of care of the people drowning not only in the wave of globalisation beyond our control. but possibly eaten by sharks and piranhas in the new blue ocean of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement?

Have we become a nation of spectacles watching circuses all day long, yet hopeless from fear as well as schizophrenia we are feeling as a consequence of the continuing unresolved issues brought about by the unmediated politics of race, religion, class, and creed?

Have we arrived at a point of no return, waiting for the complete restoration of a new government whose base and superstructure or commanding heights is a system hybridised by Oriental Despotism, Power Madness and Totalitarianism?

Is Malaysia is now a basket case of our own design? How did we get here? Whose fault is it that we have all trapped ourselves, locked in this political mad and haunted house and forced to swallow the keys, by the owners?

Is there a way out? Is there a Messiah hiding somewhere with a plan for an Exodus?

I don’t know. Do you? For sure, the rakyat deserves the government they help put into power. But is there still hope for radical and positive change?

Dr. Azly Rahman

Dr. Azly Rahman

Dr. Azly Rahman grew up in a Malay village in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, and holds a Columbia University (New York City) doctorate in International Education Development and Masters degrees in six areas: Education, International Affairs, Peace Studies, Communication, CNF/Memoir Writing, and Fiction. He has written more than 350 analyses/essays on Malaysia. His 30 years of teaching experience in Malaysia and the United States spans over a wide range of subjects, from elementary to graduate education. He has edited and authored eight books; Multiethnic Malaysia: Past, Present, Future (2009), Thesis on Cyberjaya: Hegemony and Utopianism in a Southeast Asian State (2012), The Allah Controversy and Other Essays on Malaysian Hypermodernity (2013), Dark Spring: Essays on the Ideological Roots of Malaysia's General Elections-13 (2013), a first Malay publication Kalimah Allah Milik Siapa?: Renungan dan Nukilan Tentang Malaysia di Era Pancaroba (2014), and Controlled Chaos: Essays on Mahathirism, Multimedia Super Corridor and Malaysia's 'New Politics' (2014), One Nation Under God, Bipolar (2015), and High Hopes to Shattered Dreams: Second Mahathirist Revolution (2020). He currently resides in the United States where he teaches courses in Education, Philosophy, Psychology, Cultural Studies, Political Science, Economics, and American Studies. He is currently completing his ninth and tenth books, remembering a Gift, (on Gifted and Talented Education in Malaysia,) honoring a prominent educator, and a memoir of growing up in a Malay village in Johor Bahru of the sixties. More writings here: and here: He tweets at

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