Do we need to support this new government? - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Saturday, April 18, 2020
Malaysiakini : "We choose sides and then fail to see the wrong committed
by our side. When someone does question an irregularity, we pick on
that person, instead of seeing what he or she is trying to uncover." – Mariam Mokhtar
COMMENT | M Santhananaban's piece
about why we should support this new government does not make his case
for support. Besides, what does support mean anyway? Non-Malay support?
This, after all, is a “Malay uber alles”
government. When you start from that position, it is extremely difficult
for the government to make the case for inclusiveness.
when it comes to the discontent of certain quarters for the current
government, Santhananaban articulated the same point when it came to
those who thought that the Pakatan Harapan regime was suspect.
said: “There now seem to be some misgivings about the composition of the
government, its conduct of state affairs and the content of some
statements coming out of Putrajaya and Parliament.”Santhananaban
seems to think that the election was won on a big lie, that of PKR
leader Anwar Ibrahim assuming the mantle of leadership. Actually, the
big lie was the manifesto.
Harapan showed no political will after
the election of fulfilling it. The big lie was the fact that former
prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad – who Santhananaban oddly seems
unable to name – proclaimed that the manifesto was a burden and that it
was a fiction created because Harapan did not think they could win.
Harapan had fulfilled its campaign promises, nobody would care if Anwar
was the next prime minister. If the old maverick had diligently pursued
the ideas in the manifesto, he would have gained enough political
capital to name a successor of his choosing and the Harapan faithful
would have dropped Anwar like a hot brick.
in mind that the people who make up this government are the power
brokers and political operatives who Santhananaban has referred to as
"Kleptomania Incorporated (KI)". As Santhananaban correctly pointed out
in a perspective piece about the anti-Icerd rally, these folks were always in the game for regime change.
Incorporated (KI), the members of which were the power and the power
brokers up to May 8, has manoeuvred and used these undercurrents to seek
not clarification or refinement of some policies and initiatives but
something larger – a premature exit for the legitimately elected
government which has done seven months in its five-year tenure. They
ended their anti-Icerd rally on that prayerful note. KI is now
unrealistically upbeat about change!”
Ultimately, it was Harapan
which could not sustain change and KI were right to have faith that
Harapan could be brought down. It is pointless claiming that detractors
- Harapan MPs – of Mahathir's machinations and dereliction to the
manifesto as undermining the prime minister and the government.
far as Harpan’s diplomatic snafus are concerned, these were the
preoccupations of, as Santhanaban puts it - as he did with Icerd -
“...a rather elitist and exclusivist issue, one that is well articulated
in Putrajaya and the drawing rooms of affluent homes in Damansara
Heights and Kenny Hill”.
While I don’t think this is particularly
true of Icerd (International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms
of Racial Discrimination) and as someone who attended the anti-Icerd
rally, I do think that Santhananaban main points - of indoctrinated
ignorance, governmental incompetence - when it came to messaging and
governmental policies for the disenfranchised were spot on.
fact is that most often critics from within the Harapan government and
the prime minister were folks who put reforms over party and the irony
is that even if the government had carried out reforms, the treacherous
actions of Mohd Azmin Ali, the machinations of Mahathir and the
political manoeuvrings of KI would not have been mitigated.
idea that criticism should be done behind “closed doors” is exactly the
kind of politics as usual that Malaysians have been duped into
believing is responsible governance. It is complete crap. I want to see
how political operatives manage the expectations of their base and their
role as facilitators and enablers of policies.
“undermining” the old maverick. What screwed the pooch, as far as
Harapan goes, was that PKR never acknowledged the factions within the
party even though everyone knew they existed. This proved the most
damaging to PKR, not that members of Harapan were “attacking” the prime
minister. Besides, the prime minister was too busy undermining his
If Anwar had got his house in order before Azmin had a
chance to consolidate his support with the remnants of KI, Harapan
could have had a fighting chance. Instead, the power brokers in Harapan
were too busy sucking up to the grand poobah and sending mixed messages
to the base.
This new government is deemed as a "corrupt"
government. How it was formed, the numerous compromised political actors
- who currently have much influence in this new government and the
government's religious imperatives - demonstrates exactly the kind of
thinking that Santhananaban in numerous public pieces claimed to
deplore. After all, it was Santhananaban who wrote eloquently about
corruption in the system and the country here.
is deeply embedded in the system. To work towards zero-tolerance, it
requires much time, new laws, better enforcement and an efficient
prosecutorial and court system. In other words, a whole new cast of
actors is needed.” Does the former public servant think that this is a concern for the Malay uber alles government?
reality is that the Malay uber alles movement was already gaining
momentum. This was not about reforms and changing the system. Mahathir
more or less made it clear from day one, that he was only interested in
getting rid of Najib Abdul Razak. Meanwhile, Azmin and his supporters
from day one made it clear that they were not interested in Anwar
becoming the next PM.
we do not need to “support” – whatever that means – the government.
After all, this government is not merely tackling the elephant in the
room, which truth be told is not the coronavirus virus but rather how
the government is going to maintain loyalty when it crept in through the
While this pandemic is going on, the current government
is also making deals which consequence is the return of KI to power.
The new regime is consolidating its power while the opposition has to
tread carefully because there are folks who would accuse them of putting
party above country.
We should support the efforts of the
frontliners. We should support the policies of the government which are
working and which are working in other countries. We should signal out
policies and personalities of the new government which are productive
and good for all citizens of this country.
In other words, “support” should not be a given for any government but, instead, based on consideration of policies.
This is all the more harder when the government is made up of traitors, self-proclaimed ethno-nationalists and avowed theocrats.