Believe it, the Umno-Harapan unity gov’t is already forming

Opinion  |  S Thayaparan
Published:  |  Modified:

“Our fight is a fundamental fight against both of the old corrupt party machines, for both are under the dominion of the plunder league of the professional politicians who are controlled and sustained by the great beneficiaries of privilege and reaction.”

– Theodore Roosevelt

COMMENT | I just do not get it. There seem to be two narratives when it comes to this idea of a unity government. The first is about how Pakatan Harapan de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim and his coterie are working in a sub rosa fashion with Umno to form a unity government, while the second is about how Umno is going, hat in hand, to Malay power structures in Harapan to cease being a “government in waiting.”

Both narratives are false because the reality is that a unity government is already forming. What I don’t understand is why people really think that the big bad wolf is still Umno, as if it will be the catalyst that would down the Harapan regime. The existential threat to Harapan is not Umno, but an ideology that paralyses any progressive destiny of Malaysia.

Umno does not have to form a unity government with Harapan before the next election – because by the next election, there will be no Umno.

When the old maverick and now Harapan grand poohbah Dr Mahathir Mohamad claims that Umno is finished, it is not because the people voted Umno out. The party still has support of the majority of the Malay community.

What is going on now is a war of attrition within Malay power structures, which means that Umno rats are abandoning ship and heading to other ‘Malay’ lifeboats.

Malay power structures in PKR and Bersatu have openly said they would accept Umno into the fold. While they make weak qualifications of membership, the reality is that Harapan needs a strong Malay mandate if they are to throw their weight around in a multiracial, multi-religious coalition, which they have never been comfortable with. The old maverick knows this, and so do the political operatives – Malay and non-Malay – within Harapan.

PKR lawmaker Wong Chen, in dismissing the idea of a unity government, rightly pointed out that - “That question is best addressed to Bersatu because Umno members are leaving to join Bersatu.”

People pay attention to the powerbrokers of Umno jumping ship, but the reality is that Umno has been haemorrhaging grassroots members to Bersatu, and to a lesser extent, PKR.

While PAS may have picked up some support because of the new anti-Mahathir feeling of some Umno members, the biggest draw by far has been Bersatu, which is seen as the new face of Malay politics.

While some folks have no problem demonising Anwar for his apparent racial and religious politics, the fact is that Bersatu as the so-called champion of Malay rights and Islamic superiority is the main draw for people who want to abandon Umno.

My reading of why Anwar is blathering on about race and religion is that because he understands that the Malay vote base is more comfortable with a race-based party like Bersatu, and not a nominally multiracial outfit like PKR...

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