Great political questions stir the deepest nature of one-half the nation, but they pass far above and over the heads of the other half.

– Wendell Phillips, American abolitionist, advocate for native Americans, orator, and attorney

Three years ago on January 11, 2017, fate struck a cruel blow when chief minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem, recuperating at the Samarahan heart centre, succumbed to a fatal heart attack.

For the people of Sarawak, the day of their beloved chief minister’s passing, was a bleak and black one.

Adenan, 73, was a true son of Sarawak, their champion who had clamoured for the state’s self-autonomy and its precious oil rights provided for under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) which they felt has not been adhered to in spirit and principle by Malayan authorities. 

Adenan was in the midst of negotiating for equal rights under the original MA63, and oil rights when he unexpectedly passed away.

With Adenan’s demise, the mantle fell on his successor Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg to undertake the responsibility to clamour for these rights and champion the Sarawak cause.

Events took a different turn when the 14th general election was held on May 7, 2018. The improbable happened, when the Opposition Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition spearheaded by former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad thrashed the Umno-led government which had held power for almost 60 years. 

The negotiations that took place earlier on were with the Umno-led government where the state government had reasonably good rapport and influence. 

When the new coalition of Dr Mahathir’s Bersatu, PKR and DAP took over, even though Sarawak retained its hold of the state government, it lost influence at the federal level.

In the midst of the negotiations, Umno leader and prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and other party members were arrested and charged with corruption.  

Gleefully, the public reveled in the arrests of the alleged “kleptocrats” as Malaysia washed its dirty linen for all to see!

Hence, the negotiations took a back step; the new Sarawak coalition GPS found itself relegated to the position of a “whipping post”, while their traditional rival DAP with whom they had jousted many at times during State Legislative Assembly sittings, were now exacting their pound of flesh.

On February 2020, GPS would have the last laugh when the PH government barely in its existence of 20 months became embroiled in a crisis of its own making and crumbled like a pack of cards.

Informed sources indicated that an “invisible hand” was brewing a witches’ cauldron of mischief and masterminding a coup. 

Stoking the quarrel between PKR leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and his deputy Datuk Seri Azmin Ali, a veteran in the art of discord was able subvert the PH coalition with subtle deceptions designed to intimidate the protagonists.

Bersatu’s deputy Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was the first to indicate he was unhappy with the situation and threatened to pull his faction out of the PH coalition.

Irked by the feuding duo and Muhyiddin’s threat, Dr Mahathir resigned as prime minister hoping that this by his noble act, the people would wake up and give peace a chance.

This was the straw that broke the camel’s back! Little did the good doctor realise that this was the beginning of PH’s troubles. 

On February 24, Muhyiddin left PH to join Umno and PAS to form a coalition with Bersatu comprising a loose collection of MPs.

The King has to intervene to ensure Malaysia had a legitimate leader in such a trying time as this.

All eyes were focused on the Umno-PAS-Bersatu “Perikatan Nasional” (PN) alliance.

Then in a master-stroke, Muhyiddin succeeded in enticing more followers – from Sabah, Sarawak and PKR and the die was cast. 

GPS, which is opposed to Umno’s entry into Sarawak, agreed to join the group being part of the PN plus GPS government to ensure Malaysia had a legitimate prime minister and government and for the sake of political stability.

On the evening of March 9, Muhyiddin announced his 69-member cabinet of 31 full Ministers and 38 deputies.

Cleverly, Muhyiddin dispensed with a deputy prime minister and instead named four senior Ministers – among them GPS leader Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof , who is now Minister of Works.

Out of the Malaysia’ largest-ever Cabinet, almost a third is from Sabah and Sarawak. 

As the newly-appointed GPS federal ministers and deputies prepare to take on the challenge of being part of a brand new government, they must be prepared to face the anti Umno-PAS sentiment at home.

Firstly, the displaced PH government will use all means to out-vote the PN government on May 18 – the first day of the parliamentary sitting.

I can imagine the brickbats and furore that will take place in the August House – between the predominantly non-Malay DAP MPs and the new government.

As Malaysia will be celebrating Hari Raya on May 24, it will be interesting to see if our noble YBs are able to sincerely say Maaf Zahir dan Batin.

Win or lose, the rot has set in and Malaysia is in a shambles unless our leaders and their followers clean up their act and place nation first before self.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the New Sarawak Tribune.