I recently wrote it was time for veteran politicians who are past their sell-by date to move aside and let the younger generation emerge from behind them.
So, my hopes were raised when I read a media report that Warisan had decided to ‘disassociate’ itself from Pakatan Harapan, and it would be willing to work with Muda, a youthful party that the Registrar of Societies has not yet registered.
Warisan president Shafie Apdal said that “as an opposition, when it comes to the interest of the people and the country”, it would be there on “board with anyone to ensure that we can voice and fight for the people”.
It was impressive he had the courage – or foolishness, some might say – to declare: “It is no longer the time of Anwar or Dr Mahathir” and the country had “to focus on building the nation for the people”.
During a recent radio interview, Shafie was quite open and maybe a tad scathing at how Malaysia had regressed with narrow political views and lacklustre economic performance. “I think it is high time we looked beyond the current political environment in the country. We are not moving forward.”
Everything said in that interview would have resonated with many Malaysians, apart from those still stuck in the era of thinking that this country is for one ethnic group only.
“That is why I set up a multiracial party,” Shafie said. Apparently, he already had this inclusive vision for the Sabah when he was chief minister. Had he won, he would have united the people of Sabah through multiracialism.
After Sabah succeeded, Shafie would have spread this narrative to other states. “We are talking about nation-building, touching the hearts of Malaysians irrespective of where they are and where they come from. The important part is how we can unite Malaysians irrespective of race and religion.”
That is a strong aspiration, which also shows up how elusive national unity has been.
I do not see this as a “pipe dream” (as somebody told me recently). It is doable because this is the generation that can kickstart this process. If this collaboration with like-minded parties becomes a reality, it would not be an easy ride, as there will be many obstacles to overcome. For starters, this new generation of politicians have to rid themselves of all those archaic and obsolete ideas that are ingrained in them, ie the baggage of their predecessors.
Putting people first should be their mantra. So many ordinary people are experiencing hard times. Even when this Covid thing is over, we will still feel the after-effects.
These new politicians must have the heart, the will and the belief that they can win the hearts and minds of the people across the land. They may not win the elections, but at least they can stand tall if they have integrity and compassion on their side.
They need to become a formidable force: a grouping that will stand for the people and by the people. They might have to work with and collaborate with strange bedfellows, but think of how the generation after them will benefit if they persevere and become a force to be reckoned with!
As they say, time and tide wait for no man (or woman). So, get a move on, Shafie!
There is already talk of an Umno 3.0. Some speculate that Umno 3.0 is targeting the removal of Umno president Zahid Hamidi and his predecessor Najib Razak by August 2021. The speculation in some quarters is that the ‘new leadership’ would then work closely with Bersatu and Pas.
But the question is what would be the difference between Umno 2.0 and Umno 3.0? It would probably espouse the ‘same old same old’ type of policies – only led by different faces. These new faces would probably take the same route as their predecessors.
The Perikatan Nasional government espouses nothing new either. Be prepared for the same rhetoric.
So yes, maybe Warisan’s collaboration plan is a pipe dream, a non-starter. Maybe when Shafie spoke about it, it was just to satisfy the media.
But I give him the benefit of doubt; it is not easy to challenge the status quo and fight for change.
Hopefully, people-oriented politicians can rise to the challenge and espouse narratives and policies that champion the people. Let their work generate hope and be a stepping-stone to something new for our country. It will certainly help to dispel some of the great disillusionment many are feeling now.
Maybe someone from either Warisan or Muda or some among the younger generation of politicians might read this and think of the positives and the possibilities.
As Martin Luther King Jr famously said, “I have a dream!”
So do we.
Jem, an Aliran reader, still cares deeply about Sabah, despite having lived in the peninsula for some time