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For good governance, not a never-ending 'Game of Thrones'

Rais Hussin
Published:  |  Modified:

COMMENT | The whole goal of being in politics is to be in power. 

In Malaysia, small as it is in terms of population, the people involved in the political arena have taken politics beyond the threshold of what can now be known as the never-ending 'Game of Thrones' over who will be the next prime minister.

The irony is that this was known before the 14th general election that it would be the chink in Pakatan Harapan's armour going into battle with the then-formidable BN, especially Umno.

Therefore, all key members of Harapan, without fail, named Anwar Ibrahim as the prime minister-in-waiting, once Dr Mahathir Mohamad became the prime minister – as the latter himself preferred then and prefers now.

For the lack of a better term, the politics of Harapan should not have had to experience what one is witnessing now in Malaysia, with the economic affairs minister taking the charge of the light brigade to go against his own party president.

There are five strategic dangers to be wary of with the perpetual quest for the office of the prime minister, will upend New Malaysia as we know it, playing in the background.

First and foremost, former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak (photo) is biding for time. He has even returned as the chairperson of the BN advisory board.

Even Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has resurfaced from his garden leave. In other words, the proverbial heads of snakes can still bite, even when detached from their bodies.

BN and PAS are looming large. They don't even have to do anything concrete and serious to gain electoral support come the 15th general election.

Harapan can be thoroughly defeated, which will allow the kleptocrats and their ilk to make a quick comeback and deliver a coup de grâce against what Malaysians voted for last May – a clean and competent government. 

Second, Malaysia has a bureaucracy of some 1.5 million civil servants across the thirteen states. They should be nonpartisan and have sworn to be nonpartisan.

But when the Harapan government cannot operate in tandem with what has been promised to the people, or in accordance with the election manifesto, then the civil servants will not ride above the parapet to serve the people.

They will watch at the sidelines, quietly, perhaps sheepishly, to find out who will win the 'Game of Thrones' first before deciding to work. In other words, this will not only legitimise these civil servants' seeing, hearing and saying no evil, but will render them dysfunctionally neutral.

This is turn will lead to self-inflicted harm on the political economy of Malaysia. There are more than 900 GLCs that command up to 70 percent of the equities or financial weight in the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange (KLSE). 

When the civil service does not work actively to enhance the welfare of the people, the GLCs cannot work in tandem with the government to produce the necessary deliverables. 

The net outcome is a slow paralysis of 'Malaysia Inc', where corporate fat cats who have already cashed out prior to the conclusion of the last general election just need to wait for the government to collapse so that the wheel of fortune can turn again to their favourite group of politicians.

Perpetual one-upmanship

Fourth, if the never-ending 'Game of Thrones' continues unabated, with or without any reference to the sex video – which has been proven to be authentic by the inspector-general of police himself – international investors would prefer to place their bets on and in other countries. 

Cambodia and Laos are two of the fastest rising economies in Southeast Asia with a growth rate of 6.9 and 7.1 percent respectively. Their currencies are semi-pegged to the US dollar, and their financial backers are China. Why should the international business community take Malaysia seriously? 

They won't when there is a perpetual game of one-upmanship to dethrone Anwar, the anointed successor of Mahathir.

Finally, the supporters of the never-ending 'Game of Thrones' are bound to lose all if they are throwing all their lot with Azmin. 

The economic base of Azmin is in Selangor. Unlike the days of Abdul Khalid Ibrahim, the former menteri besar who built up the Selangor coffers, no one knows how much the state government still possesses.

For all that we know, Selangor may be taking on water, which explains why the Malaysian economy seems to be sputtering to a stop, as 25 percent of the GDP is from the state.

Malaysian politics cannot be completely dis-entangled from economics, which is why all sides want to be the top dogs in the government. 

But if rabies has set in – manifested in wanting to take a big bite out of everyone, including the party president – then the signs are not healthy that they will be able to lead Malaysia.

Then, the blame of ruining the New Malaysia will be on these dogs of war.


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.

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