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COMMENT | Who do we blame for political mess we're in?

P Ramakrishnan

Published

COMMENT | Let me state my position clearly. This article is not written in favour of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim or to oppose him. I’m just trying to be rational.

Is this the end of the road for Anwar, as some suggest? Has he reached the end of his political career, as others claim?

I don’t think so. But some politicians seem to believe so while others are busy whipping up sentiments of hatred to get rid of Anwar for selfish reasons.

Some have even been arguing that he had lost the confidence of the opposition. How so? Was he defeated in a majority contest? There has been no such contest to confirm their claim.

A vote of confidence is only applicable when you have the majority but Anwar never had this majority in Parliament. So, what is the premise for this conclusion?

Paid cyber-troopers and trouble-shooters have been working full steam following the passage of Budget 2021. Their target is Anwar, creating the impression that he had blundered, otherwise the budget would have been defeated. They cite his last-minute instruction not to support the call for a bloc vote at the policy stage as a serious mistake.

They pretend as if the budget could have been defeated on Nov 26 at the second reading stage. Let’s get real. The opposition never had the numbers to defeat the budget. This has been amply demonstrated throughout the budget session. 

All through the 11 occasions when a bloc vote was called for, they did not have the numbers and the vote went in favour of Perikatan Nasional (PN) every time. On Dec 15, on the 11th occasion when the bloc vote was called, the opposition’s best numbers were 108 against 111.

To start with, the numbers were not there and expecting the budget to be defeated was a pipe dream. If the failure to defeat the budget was in any way construed as a reflection on Anwar’s leadership, it is not correct.

It should rather be seen as a vote of no confidence in the entire opposition. Fixing the blame on an individual for a collective failure is foolish.

Anwar also came under fire from his opponents after he failed to prove he had the numbers in the Dewan Rakyat to defeat Budget 2021. They ridiculed him and constantly referred to his press conference on Sept 23 where he claimed to possess a “strong, formidable and convincing” majority in the House.

The truth is Anwar never laid claim to having the “strong, formidable and convincing” majority to defeat the budget. What he claimed was that he had this majority to bring down the PN government at that point in time.

The proposed audience with the Agong that was granted to Anwar on Sept 22 provided a window of opportunity for the PKR leader to stake his claim but sadly for him, that was lost when the Agong was warded in IJN the previous day and the audience had to be called off. The Agong was discharged on Oct 2 - 11 days later.

This period provided a breather and ample opportunity for Pakatan Harapan to win over all those Umno MPs who were prepared to jump ship and support Anwar. His claim was not fictitious. This was not a fantasy but a fact with Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi also stating that he had received information some Umno MPs had expressed support for the opposition leader. 

These unscrupulous Umno MPs switched back to PN, betrayed themselves once again and broke their pledge to Anwar. This was the reason why Budget 2021 could not be defeated as no MP from PN or Umno stood up to be on the side of justice and fairness.

This betrayal is no different from the one suffered by former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Didn’t he bring over some 13 Umno MPs into Bersatu to strengthen his power and position in Harapan? What happened? They betrayed him and sided with Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin and later Mahathir himself was sacked from his own party. 

For these people, there is no sense of self-respect, shame or honour - it is a natural behaviour. It is seemingly part of their culture. It takes people of character and integrity to stay true to their word.

All this said, why are they going after Anwar so viciously? Why are they vilifying and demonising him so maliciously, if not to camouflage their own lack of self-respect and the pure pursuit of their own gain and greed? 

It is not difficult to understand. Of all the opposition Malay leaders, Anwar is seen to be the most dangerous with enough persistence and stamina to mount a formidable challenge and threaten their grip on power. Therefore, he must be destroyed by hook or by crook, it is as simple as that.

They perceive that by going for him, they hope to divert the actual situation and spare the person who was primarily responsible for this pathetic situation we are in. It is a deliberate attempt to hoodwink us and sideline the real issue.

Who is responsible for this mess we are in? It's not Anwar nor Harapan. One man is responsible. He, on his own, without consultation with Harapan leaders who put him in power, resigned unilaterally and caused this present mess.

Without respect for the more than 5.5 million Malaysians who voted out BN for the first time in our 61-year history, he frustrated our aspirations, dashed our dreams and crushed our hopes by throwing away what was a hard-fought victory. He nullified our mandate arrogantly.

On March 16, 2019, Harapan had 139 federal MPs – only nine short of the 148 MPs needed to secure a two-third super majority in the 222-seat Parliament. Harapan's position was invincible, it was set to rule for many decades.

Reforms were creeping in slowly but the kleptocrats were hounded mercilessly and charged in court as never before. These valiant efforts and struggles were brought to nought by this one man who has ruined our democracy.

If only he had remained a man of honour and faithfully kept his word and fulfilled his promise to hand over the baton to Anwar after two years as solemnly and collectively agreed upon, it would have been a smooth transition – but that wasn’t his game plan.

Who is this man? It’s none other than Mahathir. 

Forget him and forget about trusting kleptocrats, dismiss any thought of working with them. Don’t dream of creating a united, stable nation for all with their help as it will never happen. Their strategy has always been divide and rule forever.

The opposition should rally together to save our beloved Malaysia. There is much to do – and must be done – to rescue our motherland from the clutches of unscrupulous politicians.

We must wipe out corruption, save our economy, provide jobs for the unemployed and homes for the homeless. We must raise the standard of education that has deteriorated and ensure that our schools are manned by a multi-ethnic workforce that reflects our plural society and promotes peace, harmony and unity among our citizens.

We must amend our Constitution to disallow party-hopping that mock our right to vote for a party of our choice. We must forbid a caretaker government from announcing new policies and granting allocations to induce voters during the campaign period through legislations that are enforceable.

We must amend the Standing Orders of Parliament so that motions of no confidence will take priority over government bills to make democracy meaningful. 

A mandatory 14-day notice must be given to announce the vacancy for the speaker’s post inviting nominations before such election takes place. Even if there was no contest, the sole contending candidate must be proposed and elected by MPs – not declared as automatically elected.

We must investigate all the instant millionaires who had acquired their wealth through corruption and bring to book those who aided and abetted in this plundering of the nation’s wealth. We must ensure that those facing criminal charges involving the nation’s wealth do not go scot-free and those who had been released recently are re-charged to face the music.

Clearly, there is much to be done and achieved. It calls for the entire opposition in the country to come together with the mission to save Malaysia and serve the nation with commitment.

The plea of the people is this: Forge ahead in unity and solidarity, be determined in the struggle to restore democracy and create a New Malaysia to be a country for all Malaysians.

Let the guiding principle be: "Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." - Helen Keller


P RAMAKRISHNAN is a former president of reform movement Aliran.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.