All political careers are a rollercoaster.– KENNETH CLARKE, BRITISH CONSERVATIVE PARTY POLITICIAN WHO SERVED AS CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER FROM 1993 TO 1997
The political rollercoaster in Malaysia since the 14th general election has always been in high gear.
This election saw the ouster of the Barisan National (BN) government and the installation of the people’s choice, the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition.
The PH political rollercoaster has taken the people on daily rides through the intricacies of party politics, infidelities and sex scandals, infighting and Machiavellian manoeuvring, all with a heavy dose of personal animosity politics and nonsensical racial and religious mumbo jumbo.
Increasingly over the last two days, the political dramas have taken over the news. Even the life-threatening Covid-19 virus has taken a back seat and that’s saying something.
Ever since the crushing defeat of PH at the hands of BN at the Tanjung Piai by-elections last year, there have been rumours circulating about some form of realignment.
Now the latest phase of the political drama is the possibility of PH being dismembered and the formation of a newly speculated coalition.
Several days ago, a senior Umno member, Lokman Noor Adam mentioned the possibility of a new political alliance between PPBM, Umno and PAS.
In reports on Feb 10, there were quick denials by Dr M himself and by Umno secretary-general Annuar Musa. On the same day, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said the proposed coalition was a clear and present danger to the Malaysian way of life and made reference to the ushering in a “dark age” for Malaysia.
PKR president Anwar Ibrahim has described the current political manoeuvring as a betrayal and believes a new government will be formed soon. All the political parties are now having their respective emergency meetings, I presume on how best to position themselves.
It seems that there are several factors at play. Firstly, a desire to prevent Anwar from becoming the next Prime Minister. Secondly, to remove DAP from the government and thirdly, the reluctance of the current PM to step down as promised. I am sure there are various other subsidiary factors as well.
There is currently a huge trust deficient between voters and politicians in Malaysian politics. The current situation is not helping much.
In all the haste to form new alliances, it is important to gauge the feeling of the rakyat. There are already many trending comments on Twitter and social media about betrayal.
This is due to the feeling that the formation of a new coalition government would be a “back door” government. There is already an online petition ‘Malaysians are against Backdoor Government’.
Dr M’s sudden resignation as PM opens the door to several possibilities. He either requests to form the government again and thereby becomes the eighth PM. Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail or Anwar Ibrahim is invited by the King to try to form the next government. The call for a fresh mandate is also growing louder and we might see the 15th general election soon.
The latest reports suggest that Bersatu has left PH. In addition to that, PKR has sacked its deputy president Azmin Ali.
Many citizens feel that they are being played like pieces on a chessboard, to be sacrificed at the whims and fancies of politicians. Our politicians have to prioritise the livelihood and economy of the nation.
The current rush towards meetings and negotiations reminds me of the Scorpion and the Frog fable. In this fable, a scorpion, which cannot swim, asks a frog to carry it across a river on its back. The frog refuses, as he is obviously afraid of being stung by the scorpion.
However, the scorpion sweet talks, appeals and promises the frog that it would not sting the frog. The frog considers for a moment and thereafter agrees to carry the scorpion on its back across the river.
The frog reaches the opposite bank across the river safely much to its relief.
The scorpion proceeds to thank the frog for carrying it across the river. As the scorpion is stepping of the frog, it stings the frog anyway.
As the frog lies dying, the frog asks the scorpion why it stung him after the sincere sounding promises it made. The scorpion replies: “I couldn’t help it. It’s in my nature.”
All involved will have to tread with extreme caution in their dealings with whoever is tasked with the new federal government. The ‘old fox’ and other Malayan politicians are still on the scene their survival instincts are well documented. We in Sarawak certainly do not want to end up being the ‘frog’ in the fable.
Many Sarawak politicians over the last two years have clearly stated that Sarawak in the past coalitions and dealings had little or no voice in matters relating to Sarawak since the formation of Malaysia.
In Sarawak, there are also some local parties that are languishing on the sidelines. They might see an opportunity to position themselves as another viable alternative compared to the traditional choices the voters have had so far.
Some of the GPS component parties would also have to recalibrate their formulas for winning their state seats if realignment takes places. This is especially true for urban seats.
I’m sure the scriptwriters of the TV series ‘Game of Thrones’ can learn quite a lot from the Malaysian political scene for their future storylines.
At the time of writing this column, things are still ‘up in the air’. Let pray that our King’s wisdom has an impact on our political leaders.
Hopefully, this rollercoaster ride ends in sense and sensibility. Ultimately, the outcome must be to the advantage of Sarawak.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the New Sarawak Tribune.