Malaysiakini : “The manifesto was written not by plucking figures and
facts from the sky... We had a laborious eight-month (period) of
contestation of ideas on how to come about a manifesto that was
pragmatic, practical and could be implemented.” – Rais Hussin, Bersatu strategist
COMMENT | By pointing out
that the Harapan manifesto is not worth the paper it is printed on,
Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has signalled that Pakatan Harapan
cannot be trusted with anything it says on the campaign trail.
has spat on the faces of people who voted for Harapan in the last
election and demonstrated yet again that the people who voted for the
“lesser of two evils” are the punchline of the joke that is mainstream
the Harapan manifesto worthless? Surely there must have been Harapan
political operatives who did believe in the manifesto and did not just
say things because they believed they could not win.
really the strategy? Make a bunch of stuff up and then if victory was
miraculously achieved, claim that they could not fulfil those promises?
Moving forward, how can people ever trust anything Harapan officials say
when it comes to policy? The Harapan manifesto is in form and
substance a political blueprint for economic, social and political
reform. It was supposed to be a road map, if you like, to reform a
system which had been corrupted by racial, religious and feudalistic
people ask for solutions to the problems facing Malaysia, it is all
there in the Harapan manifesto. Those are the possible solution – I say
"possible" because ideals/ideas are only achievable when they are
tempered in democratic institutions and with pragmatic leadership.
is why that straw men of the intelligentsia not providing solutions is
complete nonsense because the possible solutions for what is destroying
this country is provided in the manifesto.
Now some people claim that they could care less about the manifesto, which I suppose is welcomed by the Harapan political elite. But
now that the old maverick has planted the final nail in the coffin of
the manifesto, political operatives should not bemoan the fact that
Harapan partisans are getting cynical of the new government. What the
Harapan regime has demonstrated is that they have no interest in the
When it comes to the backtracking, the political and
racial rhetoric of the Harapan regime so far has been nothing but the
"social contract" ramblings of a political coalition which expects its
base to conform to the old order of Malaysian politics. The
tragedy is that if Mahathir and the other political operatives in
Harapan were attempting to realise the manifesto instead of denouncing
it at every turn, the base would be galvanised instead of the apathy
that is slowly setting in.
The important part in Mahathir’s
latest jab at the Harapan manifesto – that document which was supposed
to “save Malaysia” – is that as yet it has not drawn condemnation from
political operatives from the Harapan political elite. I do not mean
weaselly-worded defences of the Harapan manifesto but rather
full-throttled denunciation of the prime minister’s contempt of the
There were many points in the document as elaborated in
my columns and elsewhere that do not need a two-thirds majority to
implement. Cherry-picking certain manifesto promises and attempting to
characterise a lack of political will as bureaucratic or legal hurdles
The fact the rhetoric of the prime minister does
not receive any blowback from high-ranking cabinet ministers or
political movers and shakers in Harapan is indicative of how supine
political operatives are towards the old maverick and his shenanigans.
It is further evidence that Harapan is a neo-BN and that whatever
goodwill that some partisans had towards the new government is
fine example of how the PM throws his political allies under the bus is
when he claims that the decision to release the Institutional Reform
Committee (IRC) report must be a “collective” decision. This
would mean that cabinet members – if they had any cajones – would have
to state their stand on the issue because in any other functional
democracy, with a political party answerable to its base, political
operatives have to justify their position to the people who voted for
Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali, for instance, before he
embroiled in a sex scandal had no issue with the IRC findings being
released. Indeed, when the IRC finding was classified as an official
secret, former law minister Zaid Ibrahim wondered if the rakyat would go
mad if they read the report.
What is the finance minister's
stand on this issue? After all, Lim Guan Eng is on record as saying that
he wants to speak the “truth” as opposed to spin when it comes to
economic issues, so why hasn’t the finance minister weighed in on this
issue which affects the economy and economic policy?
is that most Harapan political operatives are attempting to save their
behinds instead of creating a post-Mahathir foundation. If they were
interested in creating such a foundation, they would not be so servile
to the political machinations going on now. What they would be
doing is ensuring that their political base in not disenchanted or
frustrated by the political process because they would be vocal in
attempting to engineer within the political bureaucracy avenues for the
Harapan manifesto to gain a foothold. This, of course, will not happen here.
of the Harapan base is not interested in holding their elected
representatives accountable, with some going so far as to hector those
who dissent with the admonishment of the return of Najib Abdul Razak
rule or now, PAS/Umno rule. When Harapan backtracked on the Lynas
issue, for instance, the Harapan political elite changed the narrative
from saving Malaysia to pointing out that dissent against this measure
was anti-science and anti-capitalists.
Which just makes it all
the more sinister since Harapan government not only controls the
narrative but also includes far-right elements who control the narrative
of Harapan and pose a significant threat to the fast receding secular
landscape of Malaysia. Harapan political operatives should finally
admit that there is no New Malaysia only a neo-BN, and get back to
squabbling about who claims the crown of Putrajaya.
If there is honesty in admitting you took the base for a ride, it would be the most honest thing about this government.