“Party honesty is party expediency.”
– Grover Cleveland
De facto opposition leader Dr Mahathir Mohamad is drawing the battle lines with PAS. Former law minister Zaid Ibrahim is challenging a tethering kleptocratic regime to impose syariah law on everyone. PAS (as usual) is attempting to subvert the civil and criminal legal system because of a weakened Umno.
At a time when Malaysians are desperate for a cohesive opposition, DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang (in his personal capacity) makes the offer to work with anyone – including Chairman Najib – to save Malaysia from the ignominy of being a global kleptocracy.
Let us unpack this before going any further. I get the whole olive branch thing. I understand that the break-up with PAS is not entirely the fault of PAS even though this is the groupthink of the majority of online DAP supporters. I understand the symbolism of the rhetoric of working together. I understand the need for bipartisanship – even though the opposition has rarely ever attempted such political stratagems.
At the end of last year, I dismissed all this talk of bridge building as unproductive and disingenuous –
“Ultimately, all these attempts at bridge building are pointless. What the opposition should be doing is concentrating on formulating policies and spreading the message of how a Harapan government differs from the present kleptocratic regime. What the opposition should be doing is building a foundation to work from, and not repeating the mistakes that led to its fracturing.”
In numerous pieces, I have attempted to explain that while I disagree with PAS’ Islamic ideology, my main point of contention is that they are willing to betray that ideology by working with a kleptocratic regime. If PAS wanted to turn Malaysia into a Taliban paradise and was willing to forgo allies and win the vote and then abandon democracy – which is what these so-called Islamic parties are wont to do – then so be it.
However, what the leadership of PAS is attempting to do is rule by default. Like the hypocritical degenerate preachers who prop up the House of Saud, they want to rule in the background of the House of Najib.
The PAS leadership has already said that the whole 1MDB issue is closed. They have expressed interest with working with the Umno hegemon on “Malay/Muslim” issues. They are only interested in remaining relevant to Umno. Furthermore, I know Mahathir realises that all this talk of seat negotiation is merely PAS trying to buy time. So how is working with PAS going to help the opposition?
More importantly, how exactly is working with Umno going to save Malaysia from kleptocracy? What does the opposition working with BN mean? How does this translate to actual action or policy? How does working with the hegemon that the opposition has demonised, that a former prime minister and now de facto opposition leader has accused of selling this country to China, even possible?
The implications are far reaching. Let us assume that PAS and Umno – because really, what does BN have to do with anything – grab that olive branch. When election time comes, how exactly is the opposition going to explain to the voters that they are better off voting for the opposition when this same opposition is working with Umno (members) to “purge and cleanse Malaysia of infamy and ignominy”?
Indeed, how is DAP going to explain to the Chinese community that they should vote for DAP even though DAP acting chairperson Tan Kok Wai argued that working with PAS is “to save Malaysia from becoming a failed state” after DAP had spent the last year demonising the Islamic party for wanting to turn Malaysia into a failed Islamic state?
But wait, there is more. DAP vice-chairperson Teresa Kok not only chastises PAS for disappointing DAP and “opposition supporters” – talk about revising history – but also takes a shot at MCA when she claims MCA “is so power-hungry and opportunistic that it is prepared to permanently work with Umno when the people’s rights are trampled on.”
You actually say this about MCA when making the argument that working with your sworn political enemies is for the betterment of Malaysia? Okay, Kok, how was MCA doing when the “people rights” were not trampled on? How were they doing when they were building educational establishments, coddling Chinese educationists, and seeing to Chinese communal interests before the communities swing to DAP?
Which brings me to what MCA president Liow Tiong Lai said about Malaysia swinging to extremism “if Chinese voters do not swing back to BN in the coming general election”. Here is the problem. The country started on that road when the Malay powerbrokers of Umno decided that Islam was the best way to control the Malay/Muslim polity. Some of those powerbrokers are now leading the opposition.
If MCA was doing what it was supposed to be doing, then this extremism – which had been steadily creeping into our society – could have been slowed down. But MCA did not give a damn about this aspect of the power-sharing formula and then the inevitable happened. The Chinese community decided it was better to have no representation than MCA representation in the federal government.
This, of course, does not mean they have no say at the state level, which has proven extremely effective in highlighting Chinese preoccupations than the representation that they received when they gave their support to MCA at the federal level. Has this made the country better? That is a discussion for another time.
However, MCA cannot be blamed for the encroachment of Islamic preoccupations into oppositional politics. That is all the work of DAP and the ‘PAS for all’ nonsense. Nobody campaigned harder for PAS in the Chinese community than the DAP. Amanah is partly a DAP creation and this is not necessarily a bad thing.
I have been a PAS watcher for a long time. I still have many friends in PAS and although we may not share the same ‘weltanschauung’, they believe that it was only a matter of time that PAS fractured. While the PAS leadership is vehemently against Amanah, there is a groundswell of PAS supporters who despise working with Umno, are pragmatic and who do not mind waiting for the day when the Muslim demographic overwhelms every other demographic.
Just last year, I wrote this – “Political bickering gives the impression that politicians are earning their keep. However, in the Malaysian context, there’s the bickering against the Umno establishment that is warranted and the internal politics of Pakatan Rakyat or Harapan, or whatever it’s called, that is evidence of a lack of sincerity and cohesiveness that are the hallmarks of Malaysian oppositional politics. So-called ‘stakeholders’ are left with the cold comfort of observing fireworks but are left with smoke.”
I hope people enjoy the fireworks because the kleptocrats are laughing all the way to any banks that would still have them.
S THAYAPARAN is Commander (Rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy.
Source : @ Malaysiakini