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Infighting will sound the death knell for Pakatan Harapan

Phlip Rodrigues  |  Published:  |  Modified:

COMMENT | After 100 days, the life of the nation still flows unperturbed, vigorous, expectant.

All the woeful predictions of the doomsayers did not materialise as people go about their daily business in the firm belief that the new leaders are doing a fine job and can bring the country to a safe harbour.

It is not easy to clean up the mess left behind by the previous rulers who abused the trust placed in them these many long years. The dirt of misrule had accumulated so thick and deep that it would require years of toil to put the house in order.

The new government has only five years to get rid of the rank weeds that had overgrown and darkened the political, economic and social environment. It would demand sheer hard work to bring the country back on an even keel and to make it tick again.

The most significant move made by the Pakatan Harapan government is to bring a former prime minister to court for his alleged misconduct while he was in power.

That was the thrust of the May general election: the people wanted to see Najib Abdul Razak in the dock and be made to pay the price of misrule.

Harapan would have to tackle the other weighty issues as it goes along rebuilding the nation that had been deeply wounded by all the flawed policies of the previous government. This would require time, patience and, most importantly, unity in the ranks of the Pakatan partners.

It is not the 100 days in office that is of crucial importance. What would determine the fate of the country is how stable and strong is the link that binds all the partners in the governing coalition.

The next few years will be a litmus test for Pakatan: Can it survive intact before its term in office ends?

There are many dangers lurking in the dark corners which can threaten the political life expectancy of the new government as it strives to turn every promise into reality.

But most of the troubles will not originate from the opposition.

The clear and present danger is internal bickering. Factionalism, a dirty word in politics, appears to be rearing its ugly head with talks of emerging camps making the news.

Harapan is quite a fragile coalition which rode to power with a simple majority. The glue holding the party of hope together can melt if the heat of infighting becomes too hot. 

The way ahead is to allow the current office-bearers in Putrajaya to complete their five-year journey without getting embroiled in petty quarrels in party affairs. A persistent fight for power and influence could only lead to the dismemberment of Harapan.

Fire of factionalism

Those members outside the ruling circle would do well not to snipe at the leadership of Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who has a daunting task to nurse the country back to health and growth.

Let him finish the job and let the world's oldest prime minister retire in the glow of public approval of his performance in office.

Groups that are pushing for Anwar Ibrahim to grab the mantle of leadership now, instead of waiting for the old doctor to make way gradually, are merely stoking the fire of factionalism.

The flame, once lit, would consume all and turn all the noble principles and ideas fought for so assiduously on the campaign trail into ashes.

The people who threw Umno and its feckless partners into the trash can of history cherished only one hope: To see Harapan do a better job at guiding the country to a brighter future. They did not vote only to witness a nightmare scenario where internal squabbling brought ruin to Harapan.

For now, a simple majority would do because voters were not too sure about the capability of the untested coalition to manage the affairs of the country. They gave it the benefit of the doubt and so Mahathir rewrote the political history of Malaysia.

The people have thrown down the gauntlet to Harapan: Show us you can turn the country around now that you are behind the steering wheel.

If, after five years, Harapan did a superb job, it is very likely that it would win again, this time, with a thumping majority.

But if fatal cracks appear in the armour, the obituary of Harapan would be a damning indictment of its statecraft – Born 2018. Died 2019. Cause of premature departure: Intense internal political bloodletting leading to a sudden rupture of the senses.

No tears would be shed and Malaysia would once more turn old with no hope of recovering from its terminal illness.

PHLIP RODRIGUES is a retired journalist.

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

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