KUALA LUMPUR: The “Souvenirs” category – or as the French would say, “Souvenirs” (and the reason I’m invoking French here will become apparent as this article progresses) – the category on Facebook is a simple but wonderful indeed. Each day he would first privately resurrect for your attention your own messages of the same day and same month from previous years. You can choose whether you want to repost some or all of them, perhaps with a smug or nostalgic note, to highlight some issues that continue to plague the world at large, society at large, or your community in particular. Or sometimes you repost to publicly savor (i.e. brag about) some of your most illustrious accomplishments, or appreciate some of the steps you’ve taken to become your current self. But overall, it’s enjoyable and sometimes even fun to perform this daily reminiscence ritual.
This is how I woke up last Monday morning, when Facebook Memories gave me a finger. It was not a middle finger, but an index, and my own index no less. But it was also an index finger dyed in purplish ink. Then it occurred to me. Four years ago today, many Malaysians went to the polls with high hopes. They thought they could finally use the ballot box to oust a national leadership steeped in corruption and collusion, so much so that the kleptocratic 1MDB affair became world famous for being one of the most flagrant of its kind.
And almost miraculously, these Malaysian voters did just that, toppling a ruling coalition that had gripped the country from the very beginning. Many progressive-minded Malaysians were overjoyed. They believed that a new reformist government would finally usher in a better and cleaner future (in more ways than one) for Malaysia, so that the fledgling country could finally be propelled into the ranks of a developed nation. But, alas, the euphoria was very short-lived. It collapsed in less than two years. And Malaysia is now back in the grip of the same original ruling coalition. It is patently uncertain whether indeed the index or middle finger, dyed a decidedly dark hue, would be more apt to encapsulate the future of the once-promising country.
Then I remembered that last Monday was also an election day for the Philippines, where the heads of the legislative and executive branches would be elected by popular vote. So I republished my post from four years ago, with some pragmatic remarks that last Monday was voting day in the Philippines. As I’ve confessed many times before, I may not be well-versed enough to comment on the intricacies of Philippine politics, which seems to be at least as colorful, if not more so, than Malaysian power games. But suffice it to say that in these few days, many eyes around the world and in the region are focused on the Philippines and in particular on its presidential election. The Philippines is both a major economy and a vital geopolitical player. Whoever leads the Philippines for the next six years will shoulder not only the immense responsibilities of domestic peace and development, but also the international duty to promote, well, peace and development for the region and the world. So, as the election results spill out in the coming days, I can only hope Filipino voters made a wise choice.
And May 9 was apparently also a good omen for Europeans. On the one hand, it marked VE Day, when in 1945 World War II officially ended in Europe. A military parade was orchestrated in Moscow, although Russia is still at war with Ukraine. On the other hand, May 9 is also Europe Day, celebrated throughout the European Union. On this day in 1950, a European Coal and Steel Community was proposed, which became the precursor to the EU. While France still holds the biannual rotating presidency of the EU, newly re-elected French President Emmanuel Macron delivered a speech to the European Parliament, permanently convened in the French border town of Strasbourg. There was, of course, the recently fashionable call for (mainly Western) solidarity with a Ukraine still at war with Russia. But Macron was also realistic about the process and prospect of Ukraine’s application for EU membership, which he said could take years to see a final outcome.
Perhaps in an attempt to sidestep the complicated and drawn-out EU membership process for Ukraine and some other candidate countries, Macron’s maverick has proposed a “European political community” that “would allow democratic nations… to find a new space for political cooperation, security, cooperation in the fields of energy, transport, investment, infrastructure, movement of people. And the cheeky Macron even hinted that the UK, which recently left the EU, might be interested in such a political community.
In my humble opinion, Macron’s latest proposal — after his equally bold proposal a few years ago for a European defense mechanism more detached from the United States — for a political community in Europe comes a little in the opposite direction. of the original proposal 72 a few years ago for pan-European cooperation in sectors such as the mundane but crucial steel and coal products, where European countries could find a lowest common denominator to prosper together while putting aside issues of national sovereignty. Candidate countries for EU membership may well be delighted with this somewhat “peripheral EU” grouping as proposed by Macron, and accept the list of sectors covered which he mentioned as an example. , in the hope that they would eventually be admitted in their own right. EU member states.
But probably not the UK. I could imagine that the United Kingdom, which suffered internally from Brexit for several years, would be somewhat receptive to “cooperation in the areas of energy, transport, investment and infrastructure”. But the majority of the population as well as at least the current British government would strongly oppose ever closer collaboration with their European counterparts in “political cooperation, security” and certainly “the movement of people”. In fact, these are the main concerns that have prompted British calls for Brexit. As such, a political community might well resonate on the European continent, but the UK is unlikely to be part of it, at least not in the form outlined in the Macron proposal.