COMMENT | With 68 percent Malay voters in Semenyih, the by-election on March 2 will be spun by Umno and PAS as the key to their strategic return to power by 2023 or earlier; as and when the 15th general election is held.
Pakatan Harapan, which lost the Cameron Highlands by-election, should be on its toes in every sense of the word.
To begin with, Harapan is now the federal government. Although it was Umno and BN, and indeed PAS, that left Putrajaya completely broke, devoid of any political capital, BN and PAS have nothing to lean on, except to subject Harapan to this constant tirade that it has broken every single electoral promise.
This is a false accusation, to say the least. Why? Hasn't Harapan put the kleptocrats in Malaysia on the run, in hiding, or faced with the almost certain likelihood of conviction for crimes one day?
This in itself is the major achievement of Harapan and a new Malaysia, without which the democratic transition of May 9, 2018 would not have happened, allowing the new government to look into the skyrocketing debts of the country.
At US$250.6 billion (RM1,025 billion) and counting, which is almost 80 percent of the gross national product, with no certainty of how many government-linked companies (GLCs) there are continuing to rot from a worsening balance sheet, how can the old Malaysia be better than the one that is under Harapan?
But there are three reasons why Malays and Islam have not been forsaken.
Weren't BN and Umno, with the support of PAS, that had Malaysia entwined with Goldman Sachs? Goldman Sachs, which is heavily influenced by the Israeli lobby of the United States, has tried to wash its hands off any financial indemnity to Malaysia by merely issuing an "apology".
Umno, PAS, cannot be freed from their guilt
Umno and PAS cannot be freed from the guilt of association with Goldman Sachs and/or Israel. They worked with the likes of Jho Low, in turn, Hollywood, another entity heavily under the influence of Israeli interest, to whitewash their commercial misdeeds in 1MDB and many mini-1MDBs. Is this what Islam teaches? No. Islam has always insisted on truth and justice. Yet Umno and PAS have, time and again, skewered its central message.
Secondly, not only will Harapan not be forsaking Islam, indeed, Harapan is trying to make sure the entire economic and political ecology ie sufficiently clean, consequently, to allow the pristine values of Islam to emerge.
Only when the universalism of Islam is permitted to assume a key role will the statecraft of Malaysia be among the best in the world.
Take the economic crisis that hit Turkey between September and the end of last year, for instance.
It withstood the trials and tribulations of a financial crisis precisely because President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stood firm.
Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad may not have been able to produce an instant economic miracle, but then no one can when the Sino-US trade relationship is spiralling downward out of control. Thus the key rests with maintaining stability.
Thirdly, whereas Harapan has stopped digging Malaysia into a debt trap, PAS and Umno, even MCA, appear bent on the East Coast Railway Line project, which will cost a whopping RM100 billion and more. How can this make any sense?
Thus Semenyih must be seen for what it is: the decision day of Malaysian voters, predominantly Malays, to tell Umno and PAS that their politics of baiting the rakyat with trinkets, tokenism and tonnes of racial and religious verbiage is over.
Let's send a strong and clear signal that Semenyih is not pro-Harapan, but pro-new Malaysia, in spite of the imperfections of the coalition. Better a coalition that is clean than one that is constantly scheming with various shenanigans to come back into office, without anything to offer.
RAIS HUSSIN is a supreme council member of Bersatu. He also heads its policy and strategy bureau.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.