Malaysiakini : "In politics - just as it is in religion - some people
get an idea of the necessity of believing certain things, not so much
from weight of evidence, out or in - but from mere mental and emotional
set-ness: they intend believing - and that (is) all there is about it!" - US poet Walt Whitman
| Ramkarpal Singh’s plain-spoken scathing rebuke against the old
maverick comes at a time when the Malay political establishment is at
its most tumultuous. As someone who made a very public mea culpa about
endorsing the old maverick, I understand where Ramkarpal is coming from.
made it clear that enabling and supporting Dr Mahathir Mohamad, before
the election (by people like me) and after (by bootlickers, sycophants,
propagandists, and partisan rakyat) would lead to a big mess. The signs
were glaringly obvious, but we did not pay attention.
pro-Mahathir camp, as they do now, holds the threat of a “unified Malay
resurgence” over the heads of middle-Malaysia as a warning if we do not
support the political machinations of the old maverick. All this, I
detailed in this public mea culpa: “Worried
about the far-right and agents of the fascist state coming into power?
Well, this is what happens when a coalition breaks up because one man
decides to screw everyone over in his coalition.
"This is the
price we pay for compromising, enabling and justifying behaviour
anathema to democratic practices, all because we wanted to remove Najib
Abdul Razak. "Worried about Najib coming back? Why? We have voted
in kleptocrats for decades and when we had the chance for something new,
the elected prime minister said that the manifesto was not worth the
paper it was printed on and his erstwhile allies just buried their heads
in the sand."
Think back to the time when, after the Sheraton
Move, some sort of unity government was in play and folks still blamed
Anwar Ibrahim "for being a power-hungry knave when all the old maverick
wanted to do was steer the HMS Malaysia through choppy waters." This
is not the first time Ramkarpal has publicly admonished the old
maverick. After the Kiwanis by-election fiasco in January this year, he
said the old maverick should take responsibility for the loss and get a handle on the promised reforms, or else Harapan would become a one-term government.
was also aghast that Mahathir said he would work with anybody – meaning
Umno political operatives – which at the time, was supposedly verboten.
This got a rather queer dressing down from Ambiga Sreenevasan (above), who disagreed
with “her friend” Ram: "What about the successes? What happened to
collective responsibility? You cannot keep attacking your leader and
then ask why Pakatan is weak. Could you do that in your party without
consequences?" The last part “could you do that in your
party without consequences” was a pretty good jibe, because we all know
how the DAP handles internal dissent.
Remember when the
always pugnacious Ronnie Liu spoke out against the old maverick, calling
him a paper tiger? Or whenever the "conscience" of the DAP, P Ramasamy,
makes some very uncomfortable observations of how the DAP is on the
wrong side – Mahathir's side – when it comes to hot button issues? When
someone like me questioned why the DAP was reaching out to the mufti of
Perlis, I got a lecture from DAP about how we need to reach out in the
then "New Malaysia".
Meanwhile, Liew Chin Tong says that the DAP needs to do everything to help young Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman (below)
to retain his seat (when he was with Bersatu), even though this was the
young upstart who declared open season on the DAP, when party stalwarts
dared criticise the then prime minister and Bersatu "Big Cheese",
irony, of course, is that Anwar, who has been there from the beginning,
never got the bootlicking, big wet kisses, and "ride or die" support
the old maverick got from the political elites of Harapan. In his
post, Ramkarpal lamented that he believed in the old maverick's reform
agenda and now was incensed that he was lied to. Now, Ramkarpal is an
intelligent man so I will take it to mean that, for the sake of
political expediency and the desire to overthrow the Najib regime, he
overlooked the sordid baggage Mahathir brought with him.
He is not the only one. I and many other Harapan supporters bit our tongues and played the same game. Indeed,
political operatives, who for years had portrayed the old maverick as
an existential threat, forgot about all the scandals he brought with him
and were smugly confident that nobody would allude to those scandals.
Online vitriol by the faithful guaranteed that all these uncomfortable
facts were buried and nobody, certainly not sceptics, could get a word
in without being labelled as pro-Najib or BN sympathisers. Hence the
kool-aid was truly dispensed.
We were told to focus on the bigger
issue, but the reality was that the bigger issue had always been the
institutional corruption that led to squandered opportunities and a
political elite who used government positions to enrich themselves and
Harapan’s short tenure demonstrated was that there were not enough
voices in the administration to hold Mahathir accountable. Those who did
were told, more often than not in a friendly manner, to shut up. More
importantly, there were many voices who coasted on their pre-election
credibility among the Harapan base, who enabled Mahathir to dismiss the
manifesto, dared Harapan to “fire” him, all the while undermining PKR to
destabilise the position of his successor.
Going forward, no
matter what the composition of Harapan is, no matter who Harapan chooses
to work with, I hope that political operatives will, constructively and
transparently, criticise their partners on issues that affect the
Remember folks, the whole point is not that
Mahathir is some sort of great traitor, but rather Harapan political
operatives enabled his behaviour - which led to its downfall.