Justice consists not in being neutral between right and wrong, but finding out the right and upholding it, wherever found, against the wrong.– THEODORE ROOSEVELT, 26TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES
Tumultuous is actually a comparatively mild word to describe the shenanigans that have been taking place in Malaysian politics over the last week or so. The actors were Tun Dr Mahathir, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Datuk Seri Mohd Azmin Ali, Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Lim Guan Eng to name but a few.
It certainly has been a case of ‘what you see or hear is not what you get’. Malaysian citizenry has been given a spectacular display of political illusions and shows, the likes of which we have never seen before and would make David Copperfield green with envy.
I would say that even full-time political experts and observers had a hard time keeping up with the minute-by-minute twists taking place to our political landscape.
Basically, last week on Monday morning we had a relatively stable Pakatan Harapan government and by the afternoon our seventh Prime Minister Dr Mahathir had resigned and was subsequently appointed interim prime minister.
By the morning of March 1, Muhyiddin, the leader of a new coalition known as Perikatan Nasional was sworn in as the eighth prime minister of Malaysia.
In between Monday February 24 and March 1, we in Malaysia saw the formation of new political alliances and pledges of personal loyalties only to see their quick retractions and again their subsequent and incredulous re-pledging of loyalty.
The number of U-turns was mindboggling and still seems to be going on. The term katak or frog is commonly applied to politicians, but these kataks did so much hopping, twisting and turning that seems to have tied themselves into knots and have lost their integrity and credibility.
I am certainly not going to even attempt to do a breakdown or give a detailed timeline of the events and betrayals that took place, as I would like to maintain my sanity.
After all the political ‘moves’, I am sure many of you and your friends hold various strong opinions about what went on. The soap opera has led to a high degree of disillusionment with many of our political leaders for allowing the political environment to deteriorate to such a low and unacceptable level.
Many have asked if these politicians actually cared about the country and its people. It has all been about themselves and power.
Whatever the final outcome from this political carnage, the trust deficit by the public in our politicians has been severely eroded and has reached new lows.
The only saving grace has been our King. He has provided the much-needed leadership at this critical time. The King has also has carried out his constitutional duties calmly and with dignity. He has made his decision and sworn in the eighth Prime Minister. Let us give him a chance to prove himself.
Moving on, even if the current scenario ends in a general election, many see that it will boil down to selecting the ‘lesser of the evils’ on offer in terms of the main parties and candidates. To the voters, many MPs have been seduced by the ‘dark side’. Therefore, the question of choosing the best from the cream of candidates does not arise.
Is there a possibility that in a general election many of these tarnished politicians will step aside to make way for fresh faces? Well, knowing the nature of party politics this seems highly unlikely as the internal selection processes are skewed in favour of incumbents.
Therefore, I am sure the majority of all the political actors will still be the same and the same problems will persist.
So, what is the electorate to do? There are options available. To some extent, we might see the rise of the existing smaller fringe political parties and an increase in independent candidates. The exasperated voters might decide to give these new faces a chance.
Back home here, GPS has decided to give support to the newly sworn-in eighth prime minister in the interest of national political stability, especially in this difficult economic climate. This support was explained as being friendly but does not include being part of the new alliance.
However, the GPS government must be cautious and not ask for or accept any cabinet posts in the new government. There are two key reasons for this.
Firstly, we have a state election coming up soon and being seen to be an integral part of a Malayan government that consists of various leaders facing potential corruption changes will not go down well with voters in Sarawak.
Secondly, do we want to cosy up to an alliance that might not last for long?
However, in the meantime, it would be good if the new government as a gesture of goodwill starts by dropping the court challenge to its claim for 5 per cent sales tax from Petronas. This ought to be followed up by the quick payment of the 2019 outstanding payment as a sign of sincerity.
The new government should also commit itself to the full implementation of the Malaysia Agreement 1963.
The people in the federal government have to realise they cannot drag Sarawak into their political maelstrom. There is a high probability that the political crisis in Malaya will continue. Dr Mahathir, based on his past track record, is not one to let go. He has already in the past seen off three prime ministers.
Let Sarawak remain supportive but at ‘arms-length’. We have to maintain our fight for autonomy and give priority to our ‘Sarawak First’ focus.
However, if there is continuous strive in Malaya that poses a threat to our way of life here, we might see an even stronger movement for Sarawak’s independence. We must not let Malaya tie us up in their racial, religious and bigoted knots.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the New Sarawak Tribune.