Malaysiakini : "And if we find whoever breaches the law - we don’t care who they
are - we will take action, whether they are prince or pauper, we will
take action. That is our stand." - Dr Mahathir Mohamad
| If certain quarters assumed that “forcing” the Pakatan Harapan
government to pull out of the Rome Statute was some sort of victory,
reading the transcript of Mahathir’s press conference should be a
reality check for them. If anything, the pugilistic response – even in
defeat – is more of a slap in the face than anything in the Rome
Some people are disappointed that Harapan pulled out of
the Rome Statute. Some people are disappointed with the non-Malay
political operatives for supporting this move. It makes the Harapan
government look weak when the far right forces, in collusion with
certain members of the royal houses, disrupt a democratically elected
government from carrying out policy decisions.
Saifuddin Abdullah rightly points out that the deep state – my term is
the deep Islamic state – is mounting a vigorous offensive to usurp the
democratic process in Malaysia. This anti-democratic element must
feel great that they have managed to usurp the legitimate aspirations of
people who voted for the Harapan government. This anti-democratic
element must feel great that they have managed to derail a democratic
process in the name of race and religion.
element must feel great that they have managed to make the prime
minister of this country bend to their will and, of course, the
non-Malay political operatives sit silently while Malay power structures
flex their muscles.
This may sound strange, but I have a lot of sympathy for Lim Kit Siang (above)
when he says this decision was forced upon them. This Rome Statute
fiasco was initiated by elements who are not democratically elected, but
who have the influence to plunge this country into a protracted
constitutional crisis that could derail any form of reform, however
While Kit Siang wonders how people’s minds could be
poisoned, the reality is that the “people” had nothing to do with this.
The Rome Statute issue was not fuelled by populist sentiment in the
Malay polity, but rather the machinations of certain individuals to
erode the legitimacy of a democratically-elected government.
was nothing Harapan political operatives could say or do, which would
mitigate the damage done by individuals who have a stake in the
intersection between commerce and royal prerogative, which has had a
deleterious effect on the political process, but which has been condoned
by the Malay political elite (in collaboration with non-Malay power
structures) since independence.
Which is why Anwar’s response to
this plot to destabilise democracy was predictable and disappointing.
Mahathir was not “wise” to withdraw from this. It is never wise to
withdraw from something that Anwar admits “is good for reforms,
transparency and rule of law”.
Claiming that some concerns should
be “assuaged” is bone-headed since we know, Harapan knows and anyone
with a smidgen of intelligence knows, that there were never any
legitimate concerns, only the concerns of individuals who decided to
challenge a democratically elected leader, using the toxic politics of
race and religion.
This is the issue here. What we have is a
member of a royal house leading the charge to usurp the democratic
process. The only options were:
(1) Confront those institutions
which are hampering reforms head-on by signing the statute and probably
creating a manufactured constitutional crisis (a royal showdown), or (2)
Reminding those people that even if the statute is abandoned, they will
still be held accountable for any malfeasance they commit and the false
hope that their station in life protects them from legal consequences
is just that, a false hope.
The only viable option is to play the
shadow game until Harapan gets its acts together by demonstrating that,
even without the symbolism of such international treaties, it is willing
to carry out reforms which, so far, Harapan has lacked the backbone to
do. This is payback for the Malay political elite who, for years
played this race and religion game, are now confronted by genuine
democratic impulses of a Malaysian polity restless for real change and
stymied by the very institutions they defended for years.
Bersatu is the sole protector of race and religion that it wants to be,
then things would be different. Suddenly the people would be
knowledgeable and those individuals whose agenda is to stir up trouble
would be bereft of political influence. This is why Bersatu
strategists and political operatives have been texting and calling me,
pointing to this situation as the perfect example as to why Bersatu
needs to beef up its presence in Harapan.
The prime minister is on
his own here. While I may have a little sympathy for the ruling Harapan
elite, this is the fault of Malay power brokers who have weaponised
institutions and religion for years against the rakyat. For years
they used the royal institutions for their own purposes. Now the royal
institution is flexing its muscles to curtail the agenda of
democratically-elected leaders because the reality is that Harapan does
not have the majority of the Malay community behind them.
you think the attacks against the prime minister is getting harsh,
think back on the fascists' attacks against someone like Fadiah Nadwa
Fikri (above) who is being investigated by the Harapan state for comments made about royalty.
order to take on the anti-democratic forces in this country, Harapan
has to commit to serious reforms, many of which would lay bare the toxic
confluence of religious, racial, royal and corporate power in this
They have to stop demonising citizens like Fadiah Nadwa
and commit to an agenda of reform, which does not necessarily mean
signing on to international treaties, but rather, legislating and
creating policies that empower the people and not merely anti-democratic
If Harapan does this, it will not be forced to do
anything by the anti-democratic forces in this country and Malaysians
will come to understand that all roads lead to Rome.