Welcoming racists and bigots into Harapan - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Tuesday, December 19, 2017
Malaysiakini : “Baldrick, I have a very, very, very cunning plan.” - Blackadder
COMMENT | Blogger Hafidz Baharom rightly asks,
who are they (Pakatan Harapan) trying to convince when Harapan
loyalists question analysis pointing to a possible BN victory.
Especially important is the PAS problem - the one-time bete noire turned ally turned bete noire
(again) of DAP. PAS vice-president Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah is floating
the "unimaginable" idea that PAS could lead the country, and while
everyone else laughs at them, they are playing the long game.
No doubt, Umno is weak but being in a vulnerable position does not
mean that victory is impossible for them especially when the system is
rigged in favour of the establishment. Add to this, the opposition is
fragmented, spending as much time fighting amongst themselves as they do
dealing with issues of race and religion because they do not have a
unified message on both.
The problem is that the opposition does not have a clear message for the average citizen – “Bersatu central committee member Tariq Ismail Mustafa (photo) said
that rural folks needed to be convinced that ‘change’ can happen, but
what exactly does change mean? What are they changing to? Whenever I
talk to PSM people, I know exactly what message they are sending to
people. A grassroots message that involves how the system oppresses the
average citizen, which is linked to the local affairs of the community
they are contesting in.”
This, of course, is purely anecdotal but nearly every PAS supporter
whom I have spoken to who despises the close friendship between PAS
president Abdul Hadi Awang and the Umno regime, will still hold their
noses and support the agenda of the PAS leadership, because at this
moment in time, it is party over personality. The feeling is the same as
those in the GOP (Grand Old Party) who despise Donald Trump and his
candidates but who vote for both because of the party Trump claims to
represent – the Republicans.
Dismissing PAS as inconsequential is a mistake. In fact, I know that
PKR understands this more than any other party in Harapan. Unfortunately
for the opposition, Hafidz’s opinion on the dialectic within the Malay
community is correct, which brings us to MCA leader Ti Lian Ker’s worry
that the DAP is welcoming extreme Malay-centric leaders into Harapan.
Can we just call them bigots and racists? While MCA is in no position
to question this move – merely because Umno has become more extreme in
its Malay-centric perspective – the reality is that DAP is in no
position to do anything about extreme Malay right-wing elements within
Harapan. By embracing former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, his
newly-formed party and the desideratum of Bersatu, DAP has forfeited the
moral high ground. Malay power structures in the opposition are
desperate to bolster their credibility in the Malay demographic.
Meanwhile, non-Malay power structures are desperate to secure the Malay
vote by any means necessary.
I worry about this
– “Here is the thing, though. There is nothing anyone can say that
would change people’s mind. I worry about the day when a smart Umno
political operative would debate an oppositional political operative and
it would be revealed that beyond the 1MDB issue there is not much
difference between the opposition and the establishment when it comes to
policy and ideology, especially now that Bersatu is in the mix.”
Ti makes a very good point when he asks, “Is DAP going to be
responsible for empowering Perkasa later, the way they have empowered
PAS before?” The only reason why PAS is mainstream is because of the
pragmatism of the late Tok Guru Nik Aziz Nik Mat (photo) and the equilibrium that the DAP managed to create within the disparate alliance.
However, the signs were always present that the extreme elements
within PAS were waiting patiently to make their move. There can be no
denying that DAP, as the sole mainstream oppositional voice of
non-Malays, enabled PAS.
In hindsight, even though the opposition went through their messy
break-up, the alliance with PAS demonstrated to Malaysians that it was
possible to form and succeed in alternative coalitions, if politicians
were willing to work together. It was what Malaysians desperately needed
and the so-called marriage of convenience hinted at a possible way
beyond Barisan National.
At this point, nobody in the opposition would bat an eyelid if
members of the red shirts decided to join the Harapan because they had
lost faith in how Umno defended “Malay” rights. I doubt DAP or any other
non-Malay political operatives would draw a red line in the sand, and
news of these racists and bigots joining Harapan would be met in the
same way as how PAS members hold their noses and vote for their party
even though they despise the company their leadership keeps.
More importantly, while the youth vote is floundering for various
reasons, the older Malay demographic that is a reliable vote bank for
Umno could be turned in favour of the wiliest Malay political operative
this country has had - Mahathir. Securing new votes is important but equally important is securing votes in play. We have to keep in mind that all Mahathir has to do to win is to
destabilise Umno to the point that the powerbrokers in Umno see no
profit in supporting the current Umno grand poohbah. Then all manner of
unimaginable ways through reconciliations and reformation could herald
the birth of a new Malay power structure favouring the old methods of
In the land of endless possibilities, unimaginable ways can come to fruition.