THE chaos of Egypt’s street protests have many lessons for Malaysians – a certain portion of whom are trying to incite responsible citizens down a slippery slope which could destroy all that we take for granted in this country.
In its review of the year that was, the Egypt Independent pointed out that “the Egyptian economy took a pummeling from the revolution”.
Journalist Maggie Hyde wrote: “Over the past 12 months, the economy has suffered in the face of camel charges through Tahrir Square, clouds of tear gas, Molotov cocktails, sidewalks turned into projectiles, bullets both rubber and real, and the collective grief for the nearly 1,000 people killed in violence between protesters and the state.”
Did you know that since former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s chaotic overthrow last February, the Egyptian economy has significantly worsened?
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth, which had averaged about 5 per cent per year at end of the last decade, is now likely to be less than 1 per cent.
There is also a looming currency crisis as Egypt’s reserves have declined from US$36 billion at the beginning of 2011 to US$22 billion in October, with a projection of just US$15 billion this month.
Tourism, which traditionally accounts for one in seven jobs, was down by 35 per cent last month.
Harvard Law School Distinguished Senior Fellow Benjamin Heineman wrote last month in The Atlantic that “rich Egyptians have taken their money elsewhere, and foreign direct investment has dried up as lawlessness and uncertainty have spooked business”.
The Egyptian stock market index was also down by more than 40 per cent.
Heineman pointed out that rates of poverty, inflation, and unemployment are higher today than they were at the time of Mubarak’s downfall. Yes, things are actually WORSE thanks to Tahrir Square.
Fully 44 per cent of all Egyptians are categorised as extremely poor to near poor, according to some estimates.
At a recent conference of leading Arab financial institutions, Joseph Torbey, chairman of World Union of Arab Banks, summarised the situation in Egypt by warning, “The Arab Spring will become a rough economic winter.”
Mubarak had warned the crowds prior to his overthrow that “Egypt is going through some difficult times, and it is not right to continue on this course, because it has affected our economy and we have lost, day after day.
“And it is putting Egypt through a situation where people who have called for reform will be the first ones to be affected by it.”
The protesters refused to listen and defiantly raised their shoes at him. They were caught up in mob mentality and could not see that they were actually doing even greater damage to their country and people.
Nearly a year later it is clear that Mubarak was right.
Hyde writes: “Increasingly though, Egyptians whose livelihoods have been hurt by the protests are criticising those who are still taking to the streets, resulting in an ever-widening rift in opinion.”
Tourists fled Egypt. Future tourists cancelled their bookings.
Ask yourself Malaysians – Do you want to visit Egypt now in its current state of turmoil? Would you visit any country where there are protests in the streets every day? Would you invest in such a country where there is lawlessness and volatility?
Well what do you think is going to happen if Malaysians were to take to the streets? Mobs will always be mobs. People may speak of peaceful protests but we all know that there will be some itching to turn violent because that is how they wish to grab headlines and turn the international spotlight on themselves.
Do you really want that kind of international “glory”? Would you invest your money with a nation in utter chaos and where you cannot be assured of political and social stability?
When TIME magazine glorified the image of the protester, do you think the Americans are actually concerned about how life is for the ordinary Egyptian? The Americans are not going to help rebuild Egypt unless it benefits them. How do you think Afghanistan and Iraq are faring thanks to the US?
Consider your future. Consider the future of your children, your family members, friends, neighbours, State and country. Don’t let those with a narrow political agenda and a hunger for power destroy all that you hold dear.