Mat Sabu hasn't quite put a foot down wrong

Opinion  |  Terence Netto
Published:  |  Modified:

COMMENT | In the present climate of Malaysian politics, it has not been easy to combine personal integrity with ideological consistency.

Former adversaries have become allies, past oppressors have mutated into human rights exponents, ex-jailers aspire to be liberators, and inveterate accusers want to be pardon facilitators.

In this topsy-turvy world, one political player has somehow managed to walk a line that credibly combines personal probity with fidelity to political ideals.

Just the other day it seemed that the tenuous line he has been treading had started, alas, to go awry.

But within 48 hours there was a course correction, and what appeared like a first wobble for him turned out to be something that instead projected his strengths.

The folds were pared away and all was sweet reason and conciliation when an underling, peeved at his marginalisation, though the better of his quit decision and retracted it.

In the event, Mohamad Sabu, the president of Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah), as conciliator had added another credit to a steady accumulation of laurels as the principal adhesive in an unlikely assembly of oppositionists called the Coalition of Hope (Pakatan Harapan).

There is not a single major player in this coalition, barring Mat Sabu, as he is popularly referred to, who does not bring baggage that makes him an unsuitable fellow traveller for the Harapan journey of effecting political and economic reform in Malaysia.

Mat Sabu alone is without this baggage, which makes his turn on the ceramah circuit, now at its feverish pre-polling height, the most credible and, given his oratorical skills, the most watchable.

The other day, at a public rally to announce Dr Mahathir Mohamad as the Harapan candidate for the parliamentary seat of Langkawi, he unobtrusively went up to the lectern to adjust the microphone for a pallid-looking Mahathir who was unaware that his voice wasn't carrying.

It was a gesture that mirrored Mat Sabu's role and utility to the coalition: the seconds in a prizefighter's corner, useful at patching up the cuts, pouring in the restorative fluids, dabbing the sweat, and pumping up the adrenalin...

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