A taste of Malay/Malaysian politics

So, a Malay-majority Cabinet has been foisted on us. It is predominantly Malay and supposed to represent the majority of Malays. But, is it?

What is apparent is that the leaders had or have their own individual agendas as one Malay friend puts it. In the series of events that took place in the last three weeks, it is clear that leaders seized the opportunity that presented itself for their own self-serving interests. Were the peoples’ interests considered? What more benefits will the people receive as a result of this government? Was the mandate of the people in the 14th General Election respected or discarded as irrelevant?  Whatever happened to democratic processes?

Even if this government wins a confidence vote in the Dewan Rakyat, what proof is there that they represent the majority of Malays? It only proves that the appointees got what they wanted and vested interests were protected. Only a general election will show what the people want. The events of the past three weeks only show what the leaders want. And, they got it: position and the perks that come with it.

But, at what risk! When now Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and Minister Azmin Ali formed a pact with Umno as a bloc, accepting to work with Umno leaders facing criminal charges in court, what were they thinking? Going against their boss, the then Prime Minister and Bersatu chairman, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad? This triggered the collapse of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government.

Realising he lost the support of his own party and majority support in PH with a significant faction of PH partner Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) now with Muhyiddin, he did the right thing. He resigned, which was used by others to get ahead and to protect their own personal interests.

As a result, the government of the people by the people fell. In its place is an appointed government. How will these leaders face the people? They have no choice but to put up pretences, smile to the camera and carry on. How will these leaders hold their own in the international community? Will nations who place a premium on democratic processes recognize this government and want to work with it?

This is an inexperienced government. Is it able to tackle the urgent twin problems of the Covid-19 pandemic and a worsening economy? They seized the opportunity to govern. Time will tell if they will deliver. Though I do not support the way they seized power, for the sake of the nation, I wish them well.

How did we get to this place? Veteran journalist A Kadir Jasin explains it well when he wrote in his blog recently: “Political naivety coupled with high ambitions and greed among many Bersatu leadership council members have led to their betrayal of former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad.” To this, I add, a lack of consideration for consequences.

Did they consider the consequences of working with Umno as a bloc, accepting leaders facing criminal charges in court? Did they consider they would be breaking up a legitimate government elected by the people? Did they consider if they can handle the task of governing in the face of the current realities of the Covid-19 pandemic and a struggling economy? Did they consider or they didn’t care, as long as they had government posts?

Perhaps, at the back of their mind, they think that if they can’t handle the stress of the tasks before them they can always seek help from others, like the Sultans and countries like China and Saudi Arabia known for giving financial aid to unpopular leaderships. That means we will be going back to Umno politics and the wheeling and dealing that dragged so many into corruption which we sought to get rid of.

The naive generally don’t think of consequences and don’t assume responsibility for the consequences of their actions. Now Muhyiddin wants Mahathir’s endorsement, to which the elder leader said he wants “to see how he handles those who are facing the courts”. If Muhyiddin delivers up to his expectations, Mahathir — like a forgiving father who, despite the mistakes his children make, may nevertheless help. That’s Malay politics. But, I hope and pray that whatever he does will be for the good of the nation.

The rest of us are also expected to understand Malay politics and help, which, as fellow Malaysians, we will do — just as we did when the majority of non-Malays joined forces with the minority but discerning Malay leadership in the PH and booted out Najib and Umno. That should go on record. That’s true-blue Malaysian politics!

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