Even Najib may not be able to save Harapan - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Saturday, January 25, 2020
Malaysiakini : “It is absurd that someone who has been charged with
grand corruption and theft can travel the nation and talk as if he is a
hero.” — Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P Ramasamy
COMMENT | What do I mean when I write even former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak may not be able to save Pakatan Harapan?Well
by this I mean that Harapan’s failure to carry out most of its reforms,
its fractional politics played out in the press, the machinations of
the old guard to retain power, its racial and religious politics which
is the same as BN’s and the never-ending blame game trumps whatever
value Najib has as the “destroyer” of Malaysia.
the Rantau by-election? This is what Mohamad Hasan said of his
comfortable win in that by-election, "There was non-stop attack against
Najib as though he was the candidate." He also said this, "In other
constituencies, people can say Umno won because there are a lot of Malay
votes, (but that is not the case here)."
Honestly, the way how I
see some Harapan partisans suffer from the "Najib Derangement Syndrome",
part of this is ignoring the reality that the current prime minister
was accused by the then opposition of the very same things Najib is
accused off. While I have no idea if corruption perception means
anything, I know that for many folks who support BN – all political
support is a deal with the devil, if you ask me – the perception is that
Harapan is going after its political rivals and this, in turn, gets
sympathy from people who for years were not exposed to the kind of
educational opportunities available to the urban populace and instead
fed a diet of racial and religious claptrap.
Wait a minute, what exactly is Harapan doing to remedy this? Lim
Kit Siang and a host of other political operatives reminding people of
the sins of Najib is not going to cut it anymore. As I said, people know
what Najib did. The question is what is Harapan doing now? Politics,
unfortunately, will always be a “what have you done for us lately”
game. The bread and circus of a former corrupt leader only takes you so
far and, apparently, not far enough.
Why is Najib walking around?
Because he still has the power and privilege extended to the old guard.
Most of it is racial of course but you won’t see Najib walking around
with a black eye or balaclava-clad state operators dragging him out of
his home in the wee hours of the morning. I guess the old
maverick is losing his touch or maybe the state security apparatus has
mellowed since Anwar Ibrahim was ejected from the Umno paradise.
of course, deserves due process but this does not apply to the vast
majority of Malaysians. Before the election, Harapan ginned up its base
saying that the system was Najib and removing him and replacing him with
something better would save Malaysia. Whenever a Harapan
supporter tells me that they can’t take any criticisms even objective
ones lobbed by the current BN opposition because they did “nothing” when
Najib was in power, I want to convulse – internally – with laughter
because the man in charge now is the same one we chose to elect and
engineered the system that Harapan shows very little interest in
While the prime minister, the prime
minister-in-waiting and numerous Harapan officials continue the strategy
of attacking Najib, what they miss is that the allegations against
Najib did not remove him from Umno, it did not result in a populist
revolt in the Umno base, and it has not resulted in disavowal from the
Umno establishment. This misguided strategy that vilifying Najib
translates to electoral gains is slowly chipping away at Harapan.
Najib’s victory in Cameron Highland's was also a victory for PAS.
scandal surrounding Najib has also left a stink on PAS. Najib walking
around and being embraced by the rural Orang Asal community is a
powerful symbol to the more conservative PAS-inclined communities. It
demonstrates some form of redemption, which is a narrative that PAS has
been pushing ever since it hooked up with Umno. Is it any wonder
that Najib was brought into the recent Kimanis by-election and from
reports from my sources – who are Najib sceptics – he did a good job in
ensuring that the foibles of Harapan trumped his corruption charges.
Folks always want a redemption story more so, when the ruling
establishment talks down to them.
about how the old maverick talks about Malays. Prime Minister Dr
Mahathir Mohamad’s last salvo against the Malay community was a blog
post decrying their culture of tak bekerja. This is the kind of
post-colonial gobbledygook which was fashionable at one time and passed
off as hard truths that some thought the Malay community needed to hear.
Malay dignity forum was pathetic not because it riled up the non-Malays
but because it told the Umno base and those sympathetic to the kind of
“Malay” politics of fear and disenfranchisement, that the old maverick
was in a weak position. The Malay dignity congress was a clear
message to Malay uber alles crowd that Bersatu was the weak link in the
coalition and what was really troubling was that the party which is the
weakest link is the party that is supposed to defend their rights.
is this dumb argument floating around that we should give Harapan more
time since BN had six decades (or thereabouts) to “destroy” this
country. This argument is not only ignorant, but it is also
ahistorical. BN had functional policies at various times (just
ask the current prime minister) and the opposition had a decade (or
thereabouts) in control of certain states to differentiate itself from
the federal government.
You know what the funny thing is, Najib is
going on his redemption tour and doing a good job. What Harapan fails
to understand, that winning the general election was supposed to be a
kind of redemption for Harapan, especially when it had the old maverick
leading the charge.