Is it possible for Harapan to cease the blame game?

Opinion  |  S Thayaparan
Published:  |  Modified:

“It is much more important to kill bad bills than to pass good ones.”
– Calvin Coolidge, former US president

COMMENT | Now-retired Council of Eminent Persons (CEP) chairperson Daim Zainuddin’s rejoinder to the Pakatan Harapan government to stop playing the blame game is one of the more honest moments the establishment has had since gaining power on May 9.

It has got to a point where every time the new government is waffling, demurring or flat-out reneging on their campaign promises or proposing unpopular policies, they blame the former Umno regime.

The minority (voters) who voted the previous government out do indeed know why they are happy to see the fall of Umno, but for the majority Malays who voted for Umno and PAS, all they see is the new administration blaming those whom they voted for.

They read about partisans who mock the Umno base, even though the Malay power structures in Harapan are desperate to shore up Malay support with the elected reps from the disgraced Najib regime.

Part of this is because of the platform that Harapan ran on. Before joining Harapan, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, in various interviews, claimed that the primary goal was to remove a kleptocrat and that there were other “issues” that he could work with the coalition on, but which were secondary.

When he formally joined Harapan, he had to sublimate his own baggage of autocratic tendencies to work out a compromise with brokers in the coalition, that included a host of issues that were related to reforming the system.

He had to do this because his Bersatu was literally a newborn, while the other partners in the coalition, excluding Amanah, already had an established base with ideas of institutional reforms which would truly save Malaysia. The formation of Bersatu itself was one of racial necessity, or at least this was the coalition's party line.

Remember, it was not as if systemic corruption was unheard of in Malaysia. It is pointless dragging up the polemics of the then opposition when it came to the corruption and abuse of power during Mahathir's regime.

The fact is that Najib’s regime corruption was so blatant, the regime’s attempt to stifle dissent so heavy-handed and its attempts to shore up Malay-Muslim support so detrimental to non-Malay interests, that a sufficiently diverse minority was moved to replace Umno-BN.

When Daim says that Harapan needs to fulfil its election manifesto, the reality is that the current prime minister has admitted that the campaign manifesto is a fiction based on the belief that the coalition could not win this election. In other words, it was a “say anything” manifesto.

This, of course, was met with blowback from other Harapan coalition members, but the cynicism of the old maverick’s statement is the kind of realpolitik that he and his kind of politicians have trafficked for decades.

Blaming a kleptocrat is easy. The real problem starts when the Harapan regime has to differentiate itself from the Umno regime.

This is where the trouble starts. It started when Harapan began waffling about...

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