K Haridas wonders if the PM has the moral and ethical courage to give the nation the leadership it craves.
We have to accept the reality that we do have a backdoor government in place. Whatever has been done, we have a new prime minister.
In these days of fasting and reflection, one hopes that Muhyiddin Yassin will reflect on what would be his signature contribution. Or would he rather be remembered as someone who just became PM leading a government by the politicians, for the people but serving personal political ambitions and self-interest?
For decades we have had narcissistic leaders helming power in Malaysia. Mahathir was one such leader, and this can be distilled from the several scandals that plagued his time as Prime Minister. The facts speak for themselves. Malaysians, being a forgiving lot, gave him another chance, but he again failed us badly and placed us in an unenviable position at a critical time.
If we analyse the wealth secured by leaders of the Barisan Nasional (BN) parties, there will be nothing surprising. We will see money politics and the belief that politics was the route to money and wealth. It was this that ultimately led to Malaysia becoming a kleptocracy.
Arrogance and the belief that BN would hold on to power and thus be able to shield wrongdoers was what gave these people the confidence to do what they did in cheating the nation. It was not race that did us in, but a lack of character and competency among those in power, with many condoning it through their silence. Felda, Tabung Haji and many other instances highlight the incompetence of those in leadership positions.
Many within government witnessed what was happening, but they lacked the moral spine and guts to speak out. Or they felt that stepping aside would mean a substantial loss of patronage that comes with being blind to what was happenings around them.
Yet, Muhyiddin stepped out and took a stand. Many respected him for his courage. He then joined the opposition and then became part of the Pakatan Harapan government.
The nation made a choice in the 2018 general election, favouring reformation over kleptocracy. Sadly, the champion for the Reformasi side was in jail, and it would be some time before he could return to in Parliament. Meanwhile, party leaders within PKR were competing for positions, and this eventually led to some resorting to treacherous acts.
When loyalty to a person replaces commitment to change and reformation, challenges arise. This is a sad choice, and many so-called ‘good leaders’ have failed this test.
Today it is worth asking what Muyhiddin’s present coalition, Perikatan Nasional, stands for in clear and specific terms. If his goal was only to become PM, then this reveals a lack of commitment to ideals.
The people elected a government in 2018 based on promises spelt out in its manifesto. But this backdoor government in 2020 does not have a goal, nor has it presented an outline of its objectives. It is all about jostling for positions and power. This will remain a great insult to Malaysians.
Those in power today represent a motley crowd of discredited, selfish politicians who seem more interested in power, money and patronage. For many of them, race is their cover, and greed their goal. What they do might be at the expense of all Malaysians. Is politics so devoid of principles and ethics?
Where are the role models? If Mahathir is one, then how can we trust a man who could not deliver on his promise to hand over the leadership to Anwar Ibrahim. It was his narcissistic attitude that was the prime cause for his blindness and disrespect for Malaysians who wanted change.
Is Muhyiddin in the same mould? He has a chance to turn things around, but this calls for moral courage. He should take a clear stand regarding his position with Umno and Pas and not be bullied by them for positions and placements.
If they walk out on him, then he should offer PH another chance and give Keadilan, Amanah and DAP an opportunity to honour their promises. It would also allow him to regain his credibility. In this way, he could reunite Bersatu with its founder, and those unwilling can leave, especially the turncoats.
Muhyiddin has a chance to establish some ethical standards in politics and regain the trust and confidence of the people. The days of race are long past, and ethnic politics will serve no one; it will be at a substantial cost to the nation.
The current pandemic holds great lessons for all of us. This nation needs the talents of all Malaysians if we are to progress and tackle the challenges we face. This is no more a ‘Malay issue’; instead it requires visionary Malaysian leaders who can take the nation forward. Is Muhyiddin in this mould? That is a great question.
We need leaders who have character, competency and clarity – leaders ready to stand up and be counted. We need to move beyond populist agendas and do what is right by all Malaysians. This is what is lacking.
If we were to just evaluate the steps taken by the PN government to date, it seems to be all about consolidating position, power and patronage. When parties do not have a larger goal, then they will champion their own interests. This has been been revealed by Umno, Pas and other parties in this coalition so far. It is not about the voters at large. It is about self-interest.
If this continues, all that PH had done, however small, will go to naught. Muhyiddin will be just another PM – the eighth in Malaysian history. Does he have the leadership abilities to formulate an agenda of his own and take the political risks based on that agenda? That will need formulation and a strategy that appeals to all Malaysians.
Without a transcending view, it is difficult to rule any nation in today’s globalised environment. Muhyiddin has this season of reflection and prayer to ask himself seriously what his long-term contribution will be. He cannot wish away the longings of so many people.
Is the nation going back to the ways of corruption, money politics, and patronage with its twin characteristics of nepotism and cronyism – all of which are un-Islamic? Or will it uphold a political culture based on values, ethics and justice that will be fair to all residents and halal in spirit– a forward-looking and inspiring political culture.
Does Muhyiddin have the moral and ethical courage to provide such leadership? May he be guided and inspired in these days to make the right decisions.