COMMENT | A mere six months or so after Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, the former premier generally thought of as weak, meekly handed over the reins to Najib Abdul Razak, Malaysia's DNA began to morph, marking the beginning of the country's degeneration into a full-blown kleptocracy.
Malaysia changed from what academic William Case called an "old pseudo-democracy" to what DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang called a "kakistocracy," ruled by the worst leaders and MPs.
At a time when the country is starting to become wary of the virtues of globalisation – exalted during the end of the Cold War with the promise to raise the welfare of all humanity – one should exercise equal caution about things that are too good to be true, like the mass defection of Umno leaders to Pakatan Harapan.
On the surface at least, the exodus of Umno leaders into Harapan seems like a good thing. With a two-thirds majority in Parliament, Harapan can, for instance, correct the heavily gerrymandered electoral boundaries before 2026.
But one should also be worried about the coalition's tendency to cave in to extremists at the fringe. In recent months, there have been three issues where the political masters seemed to not be able to control these extremists. None of these issues really had anything to do with religion, race and royalty.
In other words, even if Harapan has a two-thirds majority in Parliament, there will be extremists to manipulate the issues of the day.
The first was the Seafield temple riots. Initially, it seemed to be the result of two ethnic groups clashing with one another, yet the underlying issue turned out to be a land dispute, pure and simple.
When it happened, the political masters fell on their worst instincts and took the safest route – lifting the moratorium on the Sedition Act 1948 and other security laws – even though Harapan's 14th general election manifesto was about removing such laws.
One black swan event in Subang Jaya, that seemingly came out of nowhere, was enough to neuter...