“Quintus: People should know when they are conquered.
Maximus: Would you, Quintus? Would I?”
COMMENT | De facto opposition leader Dr Mahathir Mohamad claimed that if BN loses by a small margin, “The bullies in BN would be ready to create instability.”
Let us get something out of the way first. The only political party in BN that has the means and ways of creating instability is Umno and Umno has never been shy of playing the bully in Malaysian politics. Therefore, if any political party is going to declare emergency rule it is not going to be the BN alliance but rather Umno.
The former Umno strongman does not make flippant comments. He does not just throw things out there to get a rise. Everything he says or does is carefully considered and made with the intention of fulfilling his agenda.
I have made it clear that I do not consider the recent corruption allegations the existential threat facing Malaysia. I wager that if “bangsa” and “agama” did not corrupt the Malaysian system, most Malaysians would give someone like Prime Minister Najib Razak a free pass. He would be given this pass because in the words of Malaysiakini columnist Josh Hong reminding us that naysaying is not enough, “for all its flaws, Malaysia remains a prosperous, relatively efficient and economically vibrant country.”
Mahathir makes the case with his examples of voter fraud, compromised electoral system and vote buying, that even if the opposition wins by a small margin, they would eventually lose, because the Umno hegemon has no intention of ceding the political battlefield to the victors.
In any other civilised country, when a former prime minister makes such an extraordinary claim, the current prime minister, his cabinet and political allies would rebut the claim. They would assure the citizens of their country, that they would abide by the democratic process and that the rule of law and principles of democracy would ensure a smooth transition of power.
This is not the case in Malaysia. The Najib regime has made no comment and indeed the racial and religious rhetoric has escalated to the point that the Umno establishment has enacted laws that would give them legal authority to rule in emergency until such time that they feel confident enough to resume the facade of democracy in this country.
There is no point talking about the 1MDB scandal as if the current regime has any intention of conforming to democratic norms because scandals such as these depend on institutional integrity and voting demographics that, regardless of partisanship, hold politicians accountable for their deeds in office.
In my piece ‘Malaysian Official 1 should resign but won’t’, I wrote - “Najib loyalists are wallowing in the fact that Najib’s authoritarian measures ensure his political stability because there are no democratic or legitimate means to oust him from office. What is left is the internal mechanism of Umno which has been greased by the ‘cash is king’ dictum.”
While I have argued that we are a state in failing, what the former prime minister makes clear is that ultimately our votes really do not matter. I suppose we are a fascist state in making. In fact, I made this argument last year - ‘Umno and the fascist state’ - inspired by a piece by Peter Bergen who in looks to Robert Paxton’s ‘The anatomy of fascism’ to find out if the newly-minted US president had fascist tendencies.
To recap, here are the five points from the Paxton model that I used to describe the fascist Najib/Umno regime -
1) “A sense of overwhelming crisis beyond the reach of traditional solutions.”
2) “The superiority of the leader's instincts over abstract and universal reason.”
3) “The belief of one group that it is the victim, justifying any action.”
4) “The need for authority by natural leaders (always male) culminating in a national chief who alone is capable of incarnating the group's destiny.”
5) “The beauty of violence and the efficacy of will when they are devoted to the group's success...