2021 - Harapan’s reckoning - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Thursday, January 07, 2021
Malaysiakini: “Totalitarian solutions may well survive the fall of totalitarian
regimes in the form of strong temptations which will come up whenever it
seems impossible to alleviate political, social, or economic misery in a
manner worthy of man.” - Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism
COMMENT | Mukhriz Mahathir said that corruption is the "number one enemy"
of the Malays, which is somewhat queer for many reasons, the most
important of which is that he is wrong. Forget about who is saying this
for a minute but the number one enemy of the Malays is religious
that great photo of the old maverick standing shoulder to shoulder with
Zakir Naik. If a picture says a thousand words, that photo probably
Zakir said it is better for Muslims to vote for
corrupt Muslim leaders instead of honest non-Muslim leaders. Now if a
preacher who said this – and he has said worse – is embraced by the
political establishment, what message does it send to the fractured
Malay polity, especially when it comes to state-sponsored religious
Malaysians have voted in successive corrupt regimes for
decades and the opposition by first breaking the two-thirds majority and
winning certain states demonstrated that it had an alternative
narrative which resonated especially amongst the urban and semi-urban
Since then, political attitudes for whatever reasons
have changed. So this idea of working with kleptocrats is just so
The fact that Pejuang borne from the treachery of
Bersatu can declare the demise of Pakatan Harapan is demonstrative of
how ineffectual Harapan is.
Anwar Ibrahim should concentrate on
strengthening the opposition but if the opposition cannot even declare
with certainty that he is their prime minister candidate and instead
engage in subterfuge when it comes to this issue, all the more incentive
for Anwar to seek the backing of outsiders.
these legacy coalitions, which are actually a facsimile of the BN
formula, have caused too many problems for the DAP and multiracial
Zaid Ibrahim – can I say Zaid Ibrahim or do I have to
ask someone for permission, to use his name? – tweeted it best when he
wrote: "Lim Kit Siang should stop labelling Umno as a kleptocratic
party. He was in bed with kleptocrats. He is still probably in bed with
them. Just because these kleptocrats were not charged and left Umno does
not mean they are 'cleaner' than Umno."
I also like what Zaid
tweeted about Jakim. He said: "Jakim should be given more powers. Why
stop at certifying halal cake shops? Let's certify all Malay men - if
they are worthy of being certified halal." Which, truth be told, is kind
of what all this rampant religious extremism has always been about, the
certification of the Malay polity by the state. But this is a topic for
Since hooking up with the old maverick to
dethrone the Najib Abdul Razak regime, the slippery slope has reached
its logical end, with the DAP working with Umno in Perak.
you, I have no real issue with that equation and have written about how
bipartisanship is the way forward from all this Manichean nonsense that
passes as political discourse.
The year 2021 will determine how
badly the dysfunctionality of Harapan has affected the base. Mohamad
Sabu is right when he said that the Muhyiddin Yassin regime is firming
up its support. The only reason why it can do this is because it knows
that Harapan is in the manure house.
Anwar’s problem is not that
he was willing to work with Umno, but he had failed to get the numbers.
This screwed up not only his credibility but also Harapan’s.
fact is that many folks in Harapan were spooked with all these
manoeuvres because they believed that if Anwar was successful, Umno
would have such a hold over him, that his allies would suffer.
by “suffer” I mean to be denied the position of influence within the
new administration. So you better believe it that when Anwar’s ploy
failed, there were sighs of relief in Harapan.
rhetoric of PKR having a Malay/Muslim core is not as problematic as it
sounds. What is problematic is the fact that Anwar has failed to
articulate beyond political bromides what the agenda of his Malay Muslim
Harapan was not interested in creating a
counter-narrative. A counter-narrative that Harapan's Islam was about
promoting a first-class education for Muslims, weeding out corruption in
the political and religious class, ensuring the healthcare system is
one of the best in the region and ensuring a plurality of Islamic voices
so that young people do not join extremist groups that pose a danger to
the citizens of this country. You could, if you were smart, define this
as a "Malay" right.
As PSM's Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj
said - and here is someone who has actually worked and learnt from the
disenfranchised Malay polity - "If you stop affirmative action for the
rich Malays, even the poor Malays would accept it," and added, "... that
if policies are focused on the B40 community, regardless of race, the
Malays would still benefit the most as they make up the majority of the
Think about this. We are going into 2021,
with the still unknown consequences of the pandemic hanging over our
heads. Economic and social vagaries brought upon by the pandemic will be
a major issue.
The Islamic deep state is already drawing up an
agenda that would mean more repression for the majority community, which
ultimately means that the social and economic ecosystems of non-Malays
will be affected. With all this going on, Harapan is squabbling over who
will lead Harapan?
What does Harapan want? The one good thing
about PN coming into power is that we know what a Malay uber alles
government looks like. Granted this pandemic took everyone by surprise
and PN would have to temper its racial and religious impulses, if not
for the deep Islamic state.
If there was no pandemic, it would
have been worse because Umno would realise that it could destroy PN at
any moment and it would still be to their advantage.
Harapan at the moment? Harapan sure as hell could not tell you.
Political operatives are busy writing about the kleptocrats and
attempting to paint an idealised picture of the past when the reality is
that corruption has always been with us, but now we have the added
toxicity of religious extremism, which only exists to serve the
There will be a realignment of Malay and
non-Malay power structures in 2021 and whether this means the end of
Harapan remains to be seen.
One could argue that a realignment means the end of Harapan as the base envisioned. Harapan was owed this reckoning.
Have a productive and safe 2021, Malaysia, whoever you are.