‘No’ to Mahathir’s Mageran!

Letting go means to come to the realisation that some people are a part of your history, but not a part of your destiny. – Steve Maraboli, American writer

The Yang di-Pertuan Agong must have been very concerned with developments in the country of late, and rightly so.

Malaysians are also happy too that the King has finally decided to step in to help chart the nation’s immediate future. In fact, I think this royal intervention is long overdue.

The Agong’s action this past week was not at the advice or behest of the prime minister or the government. It is reliably learnt that he took action out of his better judgment and possibly, at the prodding of his equally concerned brother rulers.

Top on his list is what you and I are most worried about as well — the worsening Covid-19 pandemic which is raging out of control and had killed 1,000 Malaysians in the first two weeks of June alone.

So, the king summoned leaders of political parties to Istana Negara this past week to hear their views on the pressing issues facing the nation today.

On June 14, the king also met virtually with the presidents of the four component parties of Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS).

Today, June 16, he will host a Special Conference of Rulers with his brother rulers in Istana Negara.

We have heard more or less of the same — from Pakatan Harapan and Barisan Nasional leaders who met the King last week.

The common requests to His Majesty were to end the emergency, allow Parliament to reconvene and tackle the pandemic head-on.

Meanwhile, GPS leaders presented to the ruler three crucial factors in the fight against Covid-19, including accelerating the Covid-19 vaccination programme, so that it can be completed by August to achieve herd immunity.

What must be noted is that none of the leaders broached the subject of a general election, and sensibly so. We cannot afford to stage an election now. No sane Malaysian wants an election at this time too.

What I find hard to believe is Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s proposal to the Agong to establish a National Operations Council (NOC) government similar to the one in 1969.

The NOC is also known by its Malay acronym, Majlis Gerakan Negara (Mageran).

While Mahathir has every right to propose anything to the King, suggesting the establishment of Mageran and offering his services, presumably as its chairman, is all so full of Mahathir and nothing else.

Much as we want to respect the former two-time prime minister, this is the very part of him which many of us resent. He still wants to be in charge and refuses to let go.

As for the NOC, this is where many think that the nonagenarian should not have involved himself if he was really serious that his proposal would work out best for Malaysia at this juncture.

The Mageran manifesto, outlined by Mahathir, scared the heck out of me. As the NOC chairman, he is putting himself up as the supreme dictator, with a free hand to choose his own team and run the country.

Mahathir had also proposed that his NOC could not be dismissed by Parliament. Now, this is truly frightening!

What does this mean? A NOC will further cripple the role of Parliament, as a platform for policy-making.

As Bersih 2.0 has noted: “With the proclamation of the emergency in January this year, the role of this third branch of government is already crippled when Parliament and the parliamentary select committee (PSC) were not allowed to sit during this period.”

Many are also questioning the point of having the current emergency when it is not helping Malaysians at all. A NOC is like an extension of the emergency, which most would want to see the end of it quickly.

Who is surprised that the Mageran proposal was rejected by almost all the leaders of other parties except Mahathir’s own Parti Pejuang?

Not me. Why, even Mahathir himself is sceptical that the proposal would come to fruition.

A key argument is that Mageran is unnecessary today as times were different and that the country was currently facing a “health emergency” rather than a “security emergency” when Mageran was set up in 1969.

Perhaps, what really bothers many is the involvement of Mahathir, more than anything else. It is generally recognised that public perception of Mahathir today has sadly hit rock bottom.

As someone wrote in a national news portal: “I am okay with the proposed NOC as long as Mahathir and all those involved in the Sheraton Move are excluded.

“Mahathir should know that whatever difficulties and issues we are experiencing now are directly due to him. He is the cause of Malaysia’s problems.”

Like many Malaysians who wish the old man well, I also think that Mahathir should retire with grace and dignity now.

It’s time to let go, Tun. No one is indispensable. Let others run the show now.

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