To a politically stable 2024? 

Emmanuel Joseph

Fuel subsidies will gradually be removed, tentatively this year or next, adding to the burden of the middle class. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, January 3, 2024. 

BARELY a year into power, Anwar Ibrahim’s government just saw another alleged attempt to oust it.

The Dubai Move is said to have failed. 

Will we now allow the government to get back to its job of governing? 

For middle class and and higher Malaysians (read: technocrats and professionals), there is already little joy to look forward to in 2024. 

At the same time, bleeding heart, left-leaning liberals won’t be getting much of their wish list. There remains no completely free education or changes in policy in university placements,   

For the bottom 40% earners, a new tax has been imposed on online shopping, where they could purchase products at a fraction of the cost.

Luxury goods will be taxed from May, which would only affect those who shop here, not the uber rich who fly to Paris or Milan to get their handbags or the even richer ones who have a personal shopper fly there to get it for them. 

Also, a new burden for the middle class, fuel subsidies will be gradually removed, tentatively this year or next. 

To facilitate this, the Padu database has been launched, though questions remain over its functionality and efficacy.  

Two ambitious ministers are both former health ministers. One who has come back to the post is hoping to set aside the year of ambivalence and non-committal stance and close the open items for good. 

The second has taken up the mantle of de facto minister for the capital, and echoing the prime minister, made poverty eradication a priority. 

The bigger picture is, for poverty eradication to happen, wealth needs to be generated to finance it, and for that, the economy needs to be spurred.

The lessening of disposable income on the end of the middle class, who are arguably the most significant movers of the economy, does not help with the cause. 

There also needs to be some buzz in the economy in order to generate interest similar to the tech boom in Vietnam and Indonesia, or the gargantuan infrastructure projects being pushed in Thailand.

An interest in the region, too, like the jostling between the US and China for key positions in the Philippines, could bring the focus to a country. 

In one year, other than doing many things right and keeping up with basic expectations, the Madani administration has yet to introduce the “zing” we have lacked for some time. 

Perhaps a new king in February, one who is arguably the most corporate-involved royal in the country, could spur sectors that His Royal Highness is involved in. 

Both the outgoing and incoming kings have expressed royal displeasure at the attempted coups but even that does not seem to dissuade those in the pursuit of power. 

Perhaps more conspicuous is the silence from those who have no qualms heaping their expectations and disappointments against those in power now – who should have equal expectations for those vying for power as well? 

For our plans and policies to work, we need less rabble rousing and more constructive criticism. More work and less politicking. 

But for a people already weary of politicking, and a people who have had their inherent bias magnified and solidified by the past decade, perhaps that is too much to ask for. 

But we can always hope, as we do during this season, for a better, politically stable 2024. 

Wishing all readers a very Happy New Year!  – January 3, 2024.

* Emmanuel Joseph firmly believes that Klang is the best place on Earth, and that motivated people can do far more good than any leader with motive.

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