Who is afraid of PAS’ 'con–vote'? - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Saturday, February 15, 2020
Malaysiakini : “This will allow MPs, not only from PAS and Umno but also from Pakatan Harapan, to vote.”– Hadi Awang
| While many folks have been slagging off PAS’ confidence vote in the
old maverick Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, I think it’s an
extremely effective bit of political theatre that plays into the racial
and religious politics of this country and lays bare the schisms of
If DAP operatives vote against Mahathir (photo, above),
this will play into the narrative that Anwar is their puppet, and they
do not want a "strong" Malay leader. PKR, of course, with its
Azmin/Anwar turmoils will be forced to openly declare their allegiance
thereby destabilising Harapan further.
Umno, of course, is not exempt. There are factions within Umno who
are busy sitting on the fence, cowardly waiting to see who emerges - or
is that resurges - as the winner and declaring support for the old
maverick would further destabilise the power structures in Umno, which
has been slowly gaining ground with the wins of the last five
by-elections. Mahathir, of course, dares anyone in Harapan to sack him. "Well, it is up to the party. They (Harapan presidential council) can sack me
if they want to," he said. When told that Anwar said there would not be
a no-confidence vote or attempt to remove him after the Tanjung Piai
fiasco, "thank you" was his sarcastic reply.
No Malay political
operative in the coalition will even consider such a play because to do
so will invite the wrath of the Malay political establishment. Any
challenge to Mahathir always came from the Malay establishment and the
most notable, because of its political terrain shifting, was PKR leader
Anwar Ibrahim (photo, below).
this attempt by PAS works more in favour of the old maverick, and he
has done nothing beyond unconvincing rejections of those plotting to
keep him in power. He does not even have to work hard at these denials
because he knows the longer people grow frustrated with this issue, the
better chance he has of making a credible argument that Anwar is not the
best person to lead Harapan because he cannot even manage his own
PAS, of course, is not afraid because they have nothing
to lose. The non-Malay demographic - which is the base of Harapan -
wants nothing to do with them while PAS' Malay base is content to wait
to form whatever kind of government which emerges from the fractional
political destruction of Harapan.
The fact that Harapan is so
disunited and paralyzed with fear is indicative of how political
operatives consider policy decisions. This is the beauty of this
“confidence” vote. Like most scams, it unearths the banality and baser
instincts of those being conned. When the old maverick claims that
the press is fermenting trouble when it comes to the power tussle
between these two, this is perhaps the most ridiculous thing Mahathir
has ever said. Keep in mind it was the current prime minister who
imprisoned Anwar Ibrahim and then set him free on the win by a coalition
that Anwar cobbled together over the decades. If Bersatu had won big, I
can assure you, the process of freeing Anwar would have been slower.
But the old maverick is not the only one who plays this blame the press card. PKR communications director Fahmi Fadzil (photo),
when dismissing claims that there are two camps in PKR, said: "That is
something portrayed by the media. I understand that there could be a
perception of such but the reality is, there are no camps. What we have
now is Parti Keadilan Rakyat that is strong and united." This is Trumpian in its perversity.
fact that political operatives like Tian Chua mimicking the narratives
of the old maverick points to how the internal schism of PKR favours
proxies of the old maverick. And this is really the point, isn’t it? If
there is a confidence vote, these saboteurs will no longer have the
advantage of plotting and skulking in the shadows. This is not a
vote for Mahathir but rather a vote against Anwar. While the prime
minister likes to blame the press for the so-called brawl between Anwar
and him, the reality is that this strategy could be negated by the prime
If Anwar has control of his party, this vote
will mean nothing at all. The fact that he doesn’t points to how tenuous
this alliance is. If Anwar is constantly looking over his shoulder and
having to fend off enemies within his own parties, how is he going to
effectively run this country?
And this is really the point. Look
at how toxic the political landscape is now. Bersatu is not the main
Malay power structure in Harapan. Mahathir has publicly admitted that he
finds it difficult to get things done because he does not enjoy a
majority that backs his every move.
He has publicly whinged about
considering the needs of others and working based on consensus. And
believe me, folks, if the crappy policies coming out of Harapan now is
based on consensus, what does it mean, when there is no consensus?
is really frustrating is that PAS political theatre is the perfect
opportunity for Harapan to strengthen itself and send a clear message to
Umno/PAS. This would be possible if Harapan really was an agent of
change that it claims to be. PAS’ confident vote could be used
against PAS and Umno, and both parties would be made to look like fools
for this political gambit. The counter-strategy is as provocative as the
All the old maverick has to do, is publicly endorse
Anwar Ibrahim instead of the qualified statements and oftentimes
contradictory statements he has been making about the handover. He
should encourage this vote of confidence and publicly call on all
Harapan political operatives to vote “against him” because this is in
keeping with the Harapan manifesto and the transition of power.
would reassure the Harapan base and at the same time, make it clear
that Anwar Ibrahim has not only the backing of Harapan but also the
prime minister of this country.
There is a reason why Harapan never calls the bluffs of Umno/PAS.