Hornbill Unleashed

July 8, 2017

For Harapan the coast is now clear

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 8:02 AM

Pakatan Harapan, the fissiparous gathering of PKR, Bersatu, Amanah and Bersatu, can now cohere with all deliberate speed.

Hindrances to its cohesion, principally the absence of remorse by Dr Mahathir Mohamad over past misdeeds and Bersatu’s insistence on him as the coalition’s PM-designate, are now removed.

On social media, Mahathir has repented his repressive past and in an interview with The Guardian in England, he said he would back jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim as the coalition’s choice of prime minister once his legal trammels are erased.

This means Mahathir can be the coalition’s interim PM-designate going into the next general election (GE14).

Mahathir’s remorse and his endorsement of a legally untrammelled Anwar as Harapan’s PM-designate clears the way for the coalition to settle on a leadership line-up, a common logo and manifesto for recognition as a political entity by the Registrar of Societies (ROS).

There remains the delicate matter of seat-sharing negotiations among Harapan components, but this is more malleable to resolution than Mahathir’s incorrigibility and Bersatu’s dissent on Anwar’s designation as Harapan’s choice of PM.

It’s easier now for PKR, DAP and Amanah to come round to accepting Mahathir as interim PM-designate the better to lever the former PM’s vaunted pull on the Malay vote to Harapan’s advantage.

The theory that politics is the art of the possible has been given no better validation than Mahathir’s admission of the need for remorse for his repressive past and his coming round to accepting that Anwar is the popular Harapan choice to effect political and economic reform.

Absent these concessions, the Johnny-come-lately tincture to Mahathir’s standing among oppositionists had been difficult to shed.

Now that he has conceded, his entry among the interim leadership of the opposition coalition is less contrived and more credible.

Time to close ranks

The resultant conjoining of opposition forces, minus of course a recalcitrant PAS, would be realistic acknowledgment of the necessity of deposing Prime Minister Najib Razak rather than a merely expedient assembly with an identical goal but with little notion of what’s to be done once they get there.

Harapan must now swiftly cohere behind Mahathir as its interim leader and shed its fractiousness to project the solidarity that should come with the realisation that Najib has dug in for the long haul.

Hitherto, Harapan had found it difficult to project the solidarity necessary to convince voters the coalition would not unravel once they gain power.

Mahathir, through willingness to admit he has done wrong and to acknowledge Anwar’s iconic status in the opposition, has given them an example of political realism that would render them more credible as a government-in-waiting.

There’s something statesmanlike in the way Mahathir has come round to accepting that he has to ‘mea culpa’ about his past and concede he has wronged Anwar.

Though he is a politician of Machiavellian craft, and for that reason must be regarded with wariness, in his unremitting opposition to Najib, he is acting out an important but little-known aspect of that infamous theoretician’s philosophy.

That is, a practitioner of this type of statecraft has a responsibility to see that his efforts are successful, by which both fair and foul means are employed to bring it off.

In fact, this success is the justification for the amorality of the methods used to gain it.

Mahathir is an enigma, if tropes other than the Machiavellian are used to understand him.

Facing realistic needs

If the Machiavellian worldview is employed to evaluate him, it will be seen that he is as true to its ethos as Otto von Bismarck was in welding the Prussian principalities into a united Germany, the Iron Chancellor’s signal achievement in the 19th century.

But unlike Bismarck, Mahathir disdains the humility that prompted Germany’s chancellor to observe that the role of a statesman is to “listen to the rustle of God’s mantle in history and catch the hem of it for a few steps”.

Humility is not something one easily associates with Bismarck, with his combination of ego and ambition. But his conception of a statesman’s role is humbling.

Harapan must now humble itself to let a contrite Mahathir lead, while not neglecting to remind him of the coalition’s primordial reformist ethos.

The country’s salvation from the rampaging depredations of Umno-BN demands this realism.

Source : Malaysiakini by  Terence Netto



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