Zahid bends the knee to Hadi - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Monday, November 19, 2018
Malaysiakini : “Cowardice rightly understood begins with selfishness and ends with shame.” – José Rizal, Noli Me Tángere
Well, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, the Umno president under investigation, has
finally kissed PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang’s ring, when he claimed
that Umno and PAS should merge.
with his silence, is playing hard to get (which just makes it more
humiliating for Umno and gives the PAS base that extra boost), but
really, has there even been a kleptocrat that he has not liked for the
advancement of race and religion? I previously made two points on the only Malay opposition:
that Umno is the opposition and a babe in the woods when it comes to
opposition politics, they are subservient to PAS who have demonstrated
that they are willing to go at it alone, if need be.” “The Malay
opposition will define itself by offering a virulent counter-narrative
when it comes to issues of race and religion. They will attempt to force
the Harapan regime to demonstrate how committed they are in their
secular principles, and of course their egalitarian principles – if they
are committed to these at all.”
What is destroying Umno is not
the fact that its members are jumping ship or that the state has
initiated a slew of investigations into the corrupt practices that had
the imprimatur of the man leading Pakatan Harapan, but rather the utter
cowardice of the current Umno leadership to go at it alone if need be.
That and the fact that there is no short supply of court jesters
operating without supervision at present.
The upcoming rally against the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Racial Discrimination (Icerd), jointly organised by PAS and Umno, is
the perfect opportunity for 'New Malaysia'. We get to see how Harapan handles legitimate expression
of dissent. We get to see if it caves to the political machinations of
Umno and PAS.
What is worrying, of course, is prime minster-in-waiting Anwar Ibrahim's rejoinder to Harapan that Icerd should be studied more carefully with concerned stakeholders. This,
of course, is mendacious. Numerous academics, activists and political
operatives have argued that the special positions of the Malay and Islam
will not be threatened by ratifying Icerd.
isn’t Harapan using the propaganda organs at its disposal to tackle
this issue head-on, and expose the deceits of Umno and PAS, instead of
caving in as usual? There are a few strategists in Harapan who I
have spoken to who say that they are hoping this blows over. Their
thinking is, do not pour fuel and the fire will sputter out.
When PKR’s Saifuddin Nasution Ismail says that Harapan should not let the opposition set the agenda, and at the same time says something like his party not intending to ratify Icerd (a 'covering your ass' strategythat I discussed in my previous article), it is allowing them to do exactly that.
The reform agenda is more than just battling corruption.
It was supposed to be about creating a new Malaysia, free from the
racist agenda of Umno – or so Harapan political operatives claimed
before May 9.
Fear and loathing
problem with this kind of thinking is that Umno and PAS have no other
issue to define the opposition agenda. In a sense, they are not really
fighting with Harapan, they are fighting against the current prime
Zahid’s public demonstrations of affection for PAS is
the coward's way out for a race-based hegemon which has no power left.
Yes, they have saboteurs in the government who are feeding them
information and stalling whatever reforms Harapan needs to carry out,
but the reality is that what Umno needs to do is galvanise the base, not
coddle the potentates.
Umno political operatives who are in limbo when it comes to
the party's internal politics tell me that what defines Zahid’s every
move is fear. Sure, he has convivial relationships with
certain Harapan power brokers, but he does not have the gumption to
stand alone as a centre-right Malay political outfit. He fears that
haemorrhaging political operatives means that eventually Umno will have
to fold into Bersatu.
This public courting of PAS to couple with Umno is Exhibit A of the fact that Zahid is losing control of Umno. Say
what you like about PAS, but they always had their religious struggle
to fall back on. Setting up an Islamic state with syariah laws is PAS’s
endgame. While some PAS people I have spoken to claim that
demographics will eventually determine if syariah is normalised in this
country, why throw away an opportunity for a chance to reshape the
country with a sizable minority to demonstrate the superiority of Islam?
Zahid gives PAS is an opportunity to make the far right religious
agenda the centrepiece of Malay oppositional politics. While Umno had a
history of political, social and economic compromise with the non-Malay
power structures of this country, Zahid is willing to flush all of this
down the proverbial crapper, because he fears that Umno will collapse
into irrelevancy if they do not get federal power.
A stacked deck
often ask, why do PAS and Umno play the race and religion card? Here is
the thing most people forget. Umno and PAS especially know that they
will not get any resistance when they do.
Zahid’s cowardice is
reflected in the political behaviour of the Harapan political elite. The
religious far right in this country understand that the Malay Harapan
power brokers are too cowardly to articulate a genuine 'New Malaysia'
This is why Hadi gets to challenge Harapan to a pissing
contest when he wants to compare crowd sizes. What we know of these
types of religious people, is that they are always about with size.
knows if PAS and Umno can pull of the numbers required to make a big
statement. As yet PAS has not truly attempted something this big
post-May 9. But even if there is a massive turnout of
people who are confused as to what Icerd really is, is the Harapan
political class going to exhibit the cowardice of Zahid and fold like
they normally do when challenged by the religious far right?
kind of cowardice when the former Umno regime did exactly what it wanted
when it came to slaying sacred Malay cows will eventually lead to a BN
redux – if it is not happening already.
Because if they do this, then like Zahid, Harapan may as well bend the knee to Hadi.