Malaysiakini Letter

Bersatu continues to be a liability

Zulhilmi Zailani

LETTER | Last week, Bersatu supreme council leader Kadir Jasin wrote that, “The non-performers, laggards and guntinglipat dalam (those who can cause harm) types must go” in response to the downgrade of Malaysia's air safety rating to Category 2 by the international aviation regulator, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). This puts us among countries such as Costa Rica, Curacao and Ghana.

Just hours later, Pakatan Harapan, under a Bersatu candidate, had not only lost the Tanjung Piai by-election but it was one of the worst election losses for a sitting government in Malaysian history.

This is not the first time that Bersatu has lost a by-election. They also lost the marginal state seat of Semenyih to BN earlier this year.

But no one in Harapan expected to be dealt a 15,000-majority loss in Tanjung Piai – a result so shocking that it took Dr Mahathir Mohamad over 24 hours to issue a public statement.

Those who were hoping for a sobering reaction from the old man however were certainly left disappointed. Not only did he not acknowledge his party’s second failure to retain a seat, but he also blamed his coalition instead.

Certain leaders within his party have gone full throttle in blaming everyone but themselves for this outright rejection by the voters of Tanjung Piai.

For example, Johor Bersatu chief Mazlan Bujang placed responsibility for the loss at the feet of certain individuals within government – ignoring the fact that given he is the state leader, shouldn’t he have taken steps to make sure that his party toes the line?

Of course, we should expect too much from Mazlan who is only his position because of the continued interference from those outside of Johor.

Nor should we have ever expected much from a party that comprises of discarded Umno members and opportunists. Just these few months we have seen the party position itself as a chauvinist party of the highest order.

Ranging from the refusal to deport controversial Muslim preacher, Dr Zakir Naik, back to India, the Kongres Maruah Melayu (Malay Dignity Congress), the belligerence of its leaders and their backtracking on key manifesto promises such as the UEC all have done nothing but fuel anger.

The actions of Bersatu’s leadership were a central factor for the continued erosion of youth support and the massive loss of support from Chinese and Indian voters across the board in a previously competitive seat.

Nor have these actions bolstered Malay support for the party. According to one analyst, Malay support for Harapan did not transform, dropping from 22.3 percent to 18.6 percent.

Blame should be placed on the leadership of Harapan whose subservience towards Mahathir has done nothing but destroy public support for their government.

Despite this, Bersatu is unashamed of using patronage politics which while always been in the fabric of the Malaysian political scene, is something that many Malaysians thought would have been swept away after May 9, 2018.

Core economic issues take a backseat to the jostling of power over the succession issue while the government remains unable to mitigate the rising cost of living and the weakening economy.

Where is the rise in the minimum wage? Where is the fairer PTPTN repayment scheme? Where are the social safety nets? What about the one million jobs promised for the youths?

Fulfilling and resolving these issues are what they should prioritise and what the people of not only Tanjung Piai but the entire nation expect from Harapan.

Kadir Jasin, it is time to speak truth to power – your party continues to be a liability for "Malaysia Baru" and its time to meet actions with words. 

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

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