Semenyih – Harapan could win even if it loses - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Saturday, March 02, 2019
Malaysiakini : "Representative government is artifice, a political myth, designed
to conceal from the masses the dominance of a self-selected,
self-perpetuating, and self-serving traditional ruling class." - Giuseppe Prezzolini
| Who knows how it will turn out in Semenyih today but what we have
seen leading up to this big day is that the Pakatan Harapan regime is
committed to becoming the new BN. Forget all that big talk of reform and
the self-righteous polemics coming out of Harapan before the historic
May 9 election last year.
Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s rejoinder
to the folks at Semenyih not to vote BN (or anyone else besides
Harapan) because to do so would mean "development" deprivation is the
kind of politics that the then opposition was fighting against all those
years under BN. And let us be honest, under Mahathir's rule too.
happens if Harapan loses Semenyih? Will there be no development in this
area? Will Harapan just pack up and go? And here's the thing, if you
were really a friend of "capitalism" (to use the context
of the prime minister), you would be encouraging business in areas like
Semenyih. Because regardless of who the residents of Semenyih vote for,
the federal government would be collecting taxes.
The reason why
this kind of punitive politics is used is that the federal government,
like the government before it, has not been able to fulfil its promises. The
then Harapan opposition used to claim that the BN federal government
used to keep people dumbed down in the rural and semi-rural areas
because they were a reliable vote bank. How is punishing the people of
Semenyih for not voting for the federal government any different?
the prime minister says – and gets no blowback for his coalition
partners – that Umno is finished and its members want to join Harapan,
what he is really saying is that the era of big government is still the
only game in town. And who knows, even if Harapan loses Semenyih to
Umno, the Umno candidate may at a later date jump ship to Bersatu.
this: the winning Umno candidate realises that he cannot get things
done for the good people of Semenyih without federal help. And because
there are no democratic mechanisms which would ensure federal/state aid
regardless of party affiliation, he has no choice but to “serve” the
people of Semenyih by joining Bersatu. And do not blame Mahathir for
this. This is the rationale of Harapan partisans for anyone not towing
the party line.
Will BN's Zakaria Hanafi (above) sign a pledge that he will not join Bersatu if he wins Semenyih? I do not think so. However,
this is not the cherry on top of the manure cake that Harapan has been
pushing since gaining federal power. The prime minister’s rejoinder to
the Harapan political elite to shed its opposition skin is a really a
clarion call to revert to BN style “crony capitalism” that we were told
was destroying this country. His rejoinder is loaded with the kind of
dog-whistle politics that - not surprisingly - the non-Malay coalition
partners have chosen to ignore for various reasons.
importantly, his message was not really for the Harapan political elite
but for the plutocrat class which is still giving succour to Umno and to
the bureaucratic class which is still hedging its bets. His
message was simple - Harapan is open for business. The kind of business
that the former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak took to its logical
extreme. This baloney that the opposition should stop behaving like
“socialists” and stop characterising the “capitalists” as oppressors is
straight out of the racial playbook that we were told was not going to
be used in this “New Malaysia”.
how many times the current prime minister has condemned the “Chinese” community as economic pirates holding the Malay community to ransom but –
and this is the important part – he has relied on Chinese plutocrats to
fuel his economic and social agenda. Is there any evidence that his
trickle-down economic theory of artificially creating a wealthy Malay
plutocrat class to mitigate the influence of the Chinese community has
been rejected by the Harapan elite? I do not think so.
hooking up with Mahathir, what the opposition - by opposition I mean the
DAP (and sometimes even PAS) - did really well was to tease out the
nexus between the plutocrats and politicians (Umno/MCA) who were
creating a system of privilege and corruption that lubricated mainstream
Malaysian politics. There are many examples but the most relevant would
be the alleged footing of Hadi Abdul Awang's bill by a person that heads a GLC (government-linked company).
no mistake, when the prime minister talks about being
business-friendly, he means collusion between the business class and
politicians. He certainly does not mean free-market ideas that encourage
unbridled capitalism – which is a beast of its own – but rather a
relationship of mutual benefit between the business class and the
political elite. “Socialism” is just a red herring meant to distract
from the real message to the powerbrokers and their minions in this
country. For a country with as much
entitlements programmes like this one, not to mention subsidised
programmes in the guise of “development” programmes, it should not have a
beef with “socialism”. And with all the development going on in Penang
at the expense of social and environmental issues, there is no way
anyone could make a rational argument that the DAP’s supposed socialist
imperatives trump their capitalist impulses.
Remember what Mahathir said about demonising the
opposition when he campaigned for Lim Kit Siang in the election?
Excerpt: "'The government (under me), in the past, labelled the DAP as
Chinese chauvinists. That was the nature of politics - to win, we label
the opponents. In the case of DAP, it was considered a Chinese
chauvinist party. In return, I was also labelled an extremist (by the
opposition). However, Mahathir said, in reality, this was not true and
that was why he was willing to cooperate with DAP.'” Want to know the kind of politics we have bought into?
In my review of Mohamed Tawfik Ismail and Ooi Kee Beng’s book on Malaya’s First Year in the UN,
I ended with this snippet from the book – “(Then deputy prime minister)
Abdul Razak (Hussein) had just secured a low-interest loan from the
Sultan of Brunei in order to implement some of the short-term projects
for the rural areas before the elections. The letter, among others,
discusses the nearing election, which was 'getting warmer'. And with
that, we are back on familiar terrain.”
Familiar terrain indeed. A terrain where big government could win if it loses in the short term.