Big trouble in little Malaysia - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Monday, May 25, 2020
Malaysiakini : Everybody relax, I’m here.– Jack Burton (Big Trouble in Little China)
COMMENT | It is percipient that Bridget Welsh framed her excellent piece "Restoring Harapan?"
as a question because folks, we are in for a bumpy ride. Welsh’s
analysis of the leadership trap (amongst other issues) in Pakatan
Harapan takes on an added dimension when the old maverick, as Joceline
Tan points out, is on the warpath and apparently in true establishment
politics fashion, a fishing expedition.
Joceline writes –“The
former prime minister has his charismatic and witty side, but his
longevity in politics has been due to his killer instinct, and this dark
side of his personality is currently on full display in his mission to
unseat yet another prime minister.”
In a Reuters
interview, Dr Mahathir Mohamad claimed that he was going to shove
trouble down Muhyiddin Yassin's throat every single opportunity he gets,
which means that the backdoor prime minister will not be able to get
anything done in Parliament. Now, of course, when has anything
ever been done in Parliament but I digress. Will this scorched earth
policy work out for Harapan? And of course, will the rakyat benefit
from such opposition, or will this merely firm up support for the Malay
uber alles government?
Keep in mind that not only has the now
quarantined prime minister has to deal with Mahathir, he also has to
deal with Umno, PAS, whatever problems crop up in Sabah and Sarawak and
the other parties and personalities that make up his wafer-thin
majority. Also, keep in mind that while Umno and PAS have their
respective bases who are more than willing to stick with them, Harapan
has been haemorrhaging support because of voter apathy and factional
Now as the opposition leader of Harapan, where does Anwar Ibrahim (photo)
fit into the old maverick’s agenda to remove another prime minister? As
the leader of the opposition, is he going to be the old maverick’s ride
or die or is going to take his role as leader of the opposition
seriously which basically means objectively reviewing policy proposals
instead of merely objecting to everything the prime minister brings to
As Nathaniel Tan points out in his recent article –“I
don’t think Muhyiddin came to power in a good way, but if his
government brings a good initiative to the table (a scenario I will
personally go so far as to say is not particularly likely to happen
often, if at all), should those who have problems with him jump up and
down in anger and opposition based on the fact that it was Muhyiddin’s
government that proposed it, rather than based on the merits or lack
thereof of the initiative itself?”
Tan hypothesises about “good”
policy which I will take to mean “good for all Malaysians” policies
which are interesting but what if the Malay uber alles government
decides on a policy which is good for the majority, which basically
means good for their respective bases?
It would be interesting to
see how Mahathir objects to policies that would benefit the Malay/Muslim
base which he is supposed to represent. On what grounds is he going to
object to those policies – egalitarian grounds? – or is he just going to
shout, corruption and backdoor government, while Perikatan Nasional
propagandises that Mahathir (in concert with the DAP) are still selling
out the Malays?
If anything, the recent public comments by Daim
Zainuddin, a Mahathir loyalist, point to how the Malay political
establishment is well aware of the cancerous effects of race-based
politics but did nothing to correct the trajectory that Malaysia was on.
Indeed the Mahathir and post-Mahathir eras are a narrative of
continuing of policy decisions that did the opposite of what Daim (photo) is advocating now.
the old maverick goes on about corruption - when any Malay leader goes
on about how corrupt the PN government is - I really want to laugh. All
these people supported Zakir Naik and what kind of Islam does Zakir
Zakir says that God will take care of Muslim (leaders)
who have sinned in the afterlife but it is the duty of Muslims – Zakir
cites the Quran – to vote for corrupt Muslim leaders over righteous
non-Muslims or non-corrupt Muslims in a coalition with non-believers. Zakir
claims that it really does not matter if a non-corrupt Muslim leader
provides a better existence because of how long are Muslims living in
the world. What is paramount is that Muslim unity trumps anything else.
what do you think that the legion of Zakir’s acolytes see when they see
Malay leadership flocking to Zakir and their belief systems when it
comes to corruption? And what about the leader of the opposition?
Is Anwar going to object to policies that disadvantage the non-Malays?
Keep in mind policies that involve entitlements and economic aid to
disenfranchised Malays, are going to be a major concern during this
Does being a leader of a multiracial opposition trump
“don’t spook the Malays” doctrine? Consider also if PN is smart and
dresses these policies as “needs-based” policies, is the opposition
going to object?
about Bersatu for a moment and think about Umno/PAS. If the PM brings
to the table something that would be useful to their base and they are
on board, what do you think the narrative is going to be about those who
More importantly, will Harapan fold when the racial
and religious stakes are raised? This ties into what Bridget wrote
about how once a galvanising tool for Harapan has now been blunted – “A
majority of non-Malays supported Harapan and they have few concrete
substantive policy areas that they can identify with the Harapan
government – around education, discrimination and inclusion, to name a
few arenas. Harapan core supporters were taken for granted and, in fact,
beaten up on as Mahathir failed to respect the voters that put him into
The Malay uber alles government does not have to worry
about the non-Malays. All they have to worry about is how to carve up
the demographic so that each gets a slice of the pie. This, of course,
is where it gets tricky. Umno and PAS may at the moment be simpatico but
will they be when it comes time to divvy up the seats?
always goes on about how the majority of the Malays do not trust Anwar.
Of course when it comes down to it, the majority of the Malays – looking
at recent by-elections and the way how the last elections played out –
don’t trust him either.
Muhyiddin is not the only person in big
trouble, citizens who consider themselves Malaysian first (and I use
this without sarcasm or irony) are also in trouble.