Dr M is the only choice for opposition for PM

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“Unfortunately, the clock is ticking, the hours are going by. The past increases, the future recedes. Possibilities decreasing, regrets mounting.”

- Haruki Murakami, ‘Dance Dance Dance’

There is this one reader who most often disagrees with me but who really gets what I write. She emailed me and rightly concluded that I would be supportive of former law minister Zaid Ibrahim’s sugegstion for former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad to be Pakatan Harapan’s candidate for the post of prime minister. This one is for you, my friend.

It is rare that I agree with everything someone writes but reading and rereading what Zaid wrote about why Harapan should officially name Mahathir as their candidate for the post of head honcho is exactly the reason why the opposition is lucky to have Zaid as one of their political operatives.

I have often accused the opposition of not being able to organise an orgy in a brothel, and nothing they have done so far contradicts this, I would say, axiom. There is no grand strategy and what the opposition is doing right now is watching opportunities float away in a desperate attempt to remain relevant while the chickens from their earlier “brilliant strategies” come home to roost.

While one of the few political operatives I admire, DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang, has to reassure people that he has no intention of ever becoming or even wanting to be prime minister, the so-called ‘pact of hope’ has been unable to offer Malaysians anyone from their ranks as someone who could lead us to change, but more importantly lead the charge against Umno.

PKR leader Saifuddin Abdullah may joke that it would be easy to find someone better than the current prime minister, but the real punchline to this joke is that so far Harapan has been unable to agree upon anything beyond the need to remove the current Umno grand poobah. And since this is the stated goal of the opposition - to “save Malaysia” - then the only tactical play would be to nominate the former prime minister as their designated champion in the blood sport which is the upcoming election.

This will not be an election about ideas. While my columns have been lamentations to the fact that it isn’t, this does not mean that I think the goal of removing the current Umno grand poobah is an “unworthy” one. I am on record as saying that removing Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and normalising the democratic process of replacing leaders is one of the most important experience Malaysians could have.

What Zaid rightly points out is that this is an election of personalities and the reality is that Harapan unfortunately does not have an established Malay potentate to agitate the Malay vote, except for Mahathir. Political prisoner Anwar Ibrahim, if he were to be set free, may not be as effective in the kind of game the opposition has committed itself to.

While someone like me is, and most probably always will be, critical of Mahathir, there is no doubt that for good or bad, the former prime minister understands not only the Malay mind but also the machinations of ‘Melayu’ politics.

If you think that the situation is ripe for regime change, you are far too optimistic. The best-case scenario, the only hope if not regime change, is that the opposition denies Umno their two-thirds majority and regroup, while Umno attempts to deal with possible rats who may decide to jump ship...

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