Can Mahathir or Anwar rally the Harapan base? - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Monday, June 15, 2020
Malaysiakini : “No man will ever bring out of that office the reputation
which carries him into it. The honeymoon would be as short in that case
as in any other, and its moments of ecstasy would be ransomed by years
of torment and hatred.”
- Thomas Jefferson
One way or another, the longest political feud in Malaysian political
history is ending. In this third and final instalment of the Dr Mahathir
Mohamad and Anwar Ibrahim brawl, the DAP yet again has to contend with
Umno’s original sin. The former prime minister, as writer Jocelyn
Tan rightly pointed out, is on a warpath and the press has been
inundated with secret recordings, Mahathir's irony-free contempt for the
system he helped create, statements from lackeys and of course the
leaping of frogs from one camp to another.
PKR leader Anwar attempts to burnish his Malay/Muslim credentials and
blaming the lack of political will in Pakatan Harapan when it comes to
egalitarian policies as “strategic missteps”, instead of acknowledging
that the underlying paralysis of the coalition was the petty political
infighting and lack of ideological foundation when it came to creating a
The narratives that dominate the Harapan discourse
are between the pro-Mahathir and pro-Anwar factions. The big question
remains: can Harapan coalesce around the eventual chosen one? Will the
Harapan base, already apathetic and riven with factional politics, turn
out to vote regardless of who is chosen? Can the DAP make the sell that
either leader will create a “New Malaysia reboot” after the spectacular
implosion of the moribund original?
This is like the recent
Democratic Party primaries in the US, where former US president Barack
Obama warned progressives that it could lead to a circular firing squad.
Of course, within the American context, it is about ideology and in our
situation, it is about pure personality politics.
not have narratives of rallying around the next leader – no matter which
side comes out on top – and neither does it have a casus belli
against the Perikatan Nasional regime beyond former prime minister Najib
Abdul Razak, who seems to be doing a better job, PR wise, than anyone
This is what happens when you find religious
charlatans who claim that it is better to be led by corrupt Muslim
leaders than by honest “kaffirs”. Inspiring, I suppose.
have not seen a narrative put forward by either party that, no matter
who wins, the whole of Harapan would rally around the winner. If you are
an observer of American politics, especially of the Democratic National
Convention (DNC) party politics, you would realise that US President
Donald Trump has been portrayed as an existential threat and all DNC
candidates vowed to back the winner of the primaries and marshal their
supporters to turn out to vote.
If you’re a Mahathir supporter
and you keep telling everyone that PN is a threat, would you not vote
for Harapan because Mahathir was not the PM? Similarly, if you are an
Anwar supporter are you not going to vote Harapan because the man who
leads the ticket is not your preferred candidate?
Party is paying the price for the former presidential candidates Bernie
Sanders/ Hillary Clinton fiasco, which disenfranchised the base and
resulted in the electoral college victory of Trump. It would seem that
DNC voters have learnt a hard lesson.
Right now, everyone is playing these sub rosa
games and nobody is rallying the party. It is pointless making
arguments that Anwar and Mahathir should join forces. They tried that
already and both have demonstrated that, for whatever reasons, they
cannot work together.
Mahathir was plotting behind the
scenes and Anwar for whatever reasons could not play hardball. The level
of insanity in this whole mess is best exemplified by a letter to Malaysiakini from
Mohd Azman, who wrote: “As a Harapan supporter, I also can't fathom why
Anwar went to meet PN leaders like Muhyiddin Yassin (below) and Hamzah Zainuddin who were the key plotters who caused the downfall of Harapan.”
on, does anyone seriously believe that Mahathir did not know that there
were moves by members of his own party – who now claim that the old
maverick knew of these moves – to destroy the chances of Anwar becoming
Never mind the fact that former PKR deputy president Azmin Ali
was a known supporter of Mahathir – "thank God it’s over" – and whose
lieutenants found favour in the Mahathir regime. Your main cheerleader
in a party that your successor leads is plotting to bring down the
government and you don’t know about it, or even suspect it? Nobody
close to the prime minister – and now leaking to the press the
narrative that Mahathir did not know anything – was aware of the plot by
Azmin to cause this meltdown?
I have said this before. If
Mahathir was sincere in vanquishing Umno and reforming the system, he
would publicly throw whatever support he has behind Anwar. He would
publicly and unequivocally acknowledge Anwar as Harapan’s choice for
prime minister, he would use his mastery of the political black arts to
help Anwar and Harapan achieve their goals, whatever they are.
education minister Maszlee Malik claimed that Putrajaya was not Anwar’s
sole right but, the old maverick had two opportunities to chart the
course of this country and both times he failed.
DAP strategist Liew Chin Tong (below)
argues that Mahathir and Anwar should close ranks, evoking Nelson
Mandela of all people in this sordid mess. Isn't it strange, Mahathir
has shown nothing but contempt for the DAP and by this I mean
patronisingly chiding the Malay community for their Sino fear and his
minions – if not himself – attacking the DAP when they attempt to carry
out the mandate they were voted in for? I mean there's bootlicking and
then there's sadomasochism (S&M).
political operatives, meanwhile, are reduced to writing tear soaked
letters to the current prime minister, reminding him that they
acquiesced to everything he wanted and yet he still chooses to demonise
the DAP to leave the Harapan fold.
Think about it this way. They
say the Malays were losing faith in Harapan, so the choice for them when
it comes to Harapan is one leader who thinks that they are “lazy” and
another who cannot even keep his house in order.
If Harapan had
continued the racist policies of BN and had carried out minor reforms,
instead of engaging daily in petty conflicts, do you think that the
majority polity would have any doubts about Harapan? You can make an
argument for voting for a neo-BN but what argument could you make for
these bunch of self-destructive political operatives?
So the big
question for Harapan supporters like Mohd Azman is, will he rally to
Harapan no matter who is chosen? Will the Harapan rise? Can Mahathir or
Anwar inspire the kind of fervour seen in the last election?