by Wan Saiful Wan Jan. A version was published as “A bleak future if there’s no change ” in The Star 22 December 2015

I have been mulling about this article for more than a week. Since we are now at the end of 2015, I wanted to write a piece summarising my thoughts about 2015. I also want to reflect the festive season that we are now in. Unfortunately that is not an easy feat.

To me 2015 has been a frustrating and disappointing year. If previously many people have been saying that our country is heading on the wrong direction, 2015 seems to have confirmed the disastrous trajectory that our politicians have charted for us.

We have so many examples of the selfish decisions taken by our politicians.

To me the darkest day was Tuesday 28 July 2015, the day when the cabinet was reshuffled. Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Najib Razak sacked Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

Muhyiddin irked Najib by voicing out his concerns publicly. In return for this disobedience, Najib sacked him.

A few days later Najib went on to say that “I will evaluate people based on their loyalty. There is a lot of smart people around but to find those who are loyal is rare.” This admission that loyalty is more prized than aptitude is a bad sign for our country. But that is the path that our top leadership seem to like.

On the same 28 July several other changes were made by the Prime Minister. He removed Attorney General Tan Sri Gani Patail who was in the midst of investigating issues surrounding 1MDB. Gani’s removal was on health grounds.

That day also saw the promotion of four members of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) into the executive. The PAC too was conducting its own investigation on 1MDB. The promotion of these individuals resulted in a long delay of the inquiry.

Of course we all believe the reasons for these changes. Muhyiddin was removed because he was a bad team player. Gani was sacked because he was ill. And the PAC members are all extremely talented and their promotion was because they deserve it.

If you have any doubts, please change your mind now. Otherwise please just keep your doubts to yourself. These days having too many questions or speaking out aloud could bring a lot of trouble on yourself.

Of course there are other incidents in 2015 that contributed to my sentiment about the year.

There is PAS with their insistence to bring hudud for a debate in parliament to the extent that they were willing to break up Pakatan Rakyat. It is already the end of 2015 and their hudud bill has not yet seen the light of the day. So much for their political acumen.

There is the DAP with their vehement public attacks on PAS to appeal to their core non-Muslim voters. They want us to believe that their party has moved beyond ethnic and religious politics. But there have been times when they sounded more Islamophobic than secular.

There is the MIC who has worked very hard to bring Tamil films to real life in Malaysia. I can’t remember any good news coming out from the party this year. If they were not fighting each other, well, I guess they must be busy planning how to start another fight against each other.

We saw the passing of the National Security Council Bill in parliament. This bill gives the Prime Minister sweeping powers to do so many things, it is unfathomable that our MPs could have supported its passage through Dewan Rakyat.

Oh, hang on. I forgot that loyalty is more important that aptitude. By now the MPs already know that there is a heavy price to pay if they show any signs of independent thinking.

There is the whole saga surrounding 1MDB and the political donation into Najib’s personal bank account. I will stay away from putting my thoughts on paper on this topic because I don’t want to be detained. Suffice to say that so many questions remain unanswered.

I could go on and on giving many more examples why 2015 has been a most depressing year. But I think that should be enough to illustrate my point. This country is on the wrong trajectory and I see no sign that those in power want to make any improvements.

As we go into 2016, it is a bleak outlook. I see today a society that has been conditioned into not asking questions. The top leaders can do whatever they want and the majority in our society would blindly obey.

On the international platform, our country has taken a battering from almost every angle. Our credibility has been tarnished. I don’t think we can regain that credibility unless we provide credible answers to the many predicaments that exist today. And heads must roll too, all the way to the top. If we don’t undergo that tough process, we will not be able to regain the true respect that we once enjoyed.

Unfortunately there is no sign that our politicians are willing to do the necessary. All the signs show that we will go into 2016 with politicians whose only interest is to secure their own positions. There is no political will to change.

With this kind of scenario, I find it difficult to look into 2016 with the festive spirit we are supposed to have today. For I really do fear for the future of Malaysia.

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Wan Saiful Wan Jan is the Chief Executive of IDEAS

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