Pakatan Harapan must stop playing the numbers game that people have no more stomach for. Leave Mahathir alone to fret, Sarajun Hoda Abdul Hassan writes.
So what is it that Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Lim Guan Eng and Mohamad Sabu are not telling us?
The DAP and Amanah have been persistently pleading with PKR to back Mahathir for a third stint as prime minister, saying only he has the numbers to snatch back the people’s mandate and return Pakatan Harapan to power. They are also insisting that, as Anwar Ibrahim has failed to secure the required number, he must now agree to accept Mahathir as prime minister with Anwar as deputy.
In this game of thrones, where do the people fit in? Many are facing the worst challenge of their lives. The economy has collapsed, businesses have drawn down their shutters, people have lost their jobs, and many are finding it onerous to put food on the table for the family.
But our politicians are busy playing a ‘now we have it, now we don’t’ game taking the whole population on a roller coaster ride, day in day out, with no light at the end of the tunnel.
For now, many are convinced that the light the Perikatan Nasional government is shining at the end of the tunnel is a mirage. The situation is so hopeless, to put it mildly, that even PN itself is looking at a snap general election.
As if desperate, Mahathir came down on his knees asking PKR for a six-month term as prime minister. Nobody can ever read his fickle mind. Is he going for an unbeatable record? Whatever, he cannot take the country down that path unless he is forthright with the people about what he is actually up to. The people need to know what PH, or Mahathir for that matter, can achieve in six short months that another, say Anwar, cannot.
How will Mahathir get the numbers?
So, what are Guan Eng and Sabu not telling us? Why are they so sure Mahathir has a comfortable number of MPs on his side? Where are they coming from?
Sarawak? Gabungan Parti Sarawak has repeatedly denied it and insists it is with Muhyiddin Yassin and the PN government all the way.
Meanwhile, the federal government-controlled Petronas is adjourning its appeal over RM2bn in sales tax sought by Sarawak. This and the sacking of the Petronas chief hint of deeper things. Where will this RM2bn end up and will it really reach the Sarawak people? If Petronas loses this RM2bn, it will constrain its resources for further exploration, its business development and possibly lead to reduced future earnings. And with that, our country’s development, funded by Petronas dividends, will be severely hit.
What more can Mahathir or PH counter offer to GPS? PH needs at least 120 MPs on its side to form a stable government and to prevent some unscrupulous or dishonourable defectors from holding it to ransom. What is Mahathir really offering that convinces the DAP and Amanah he can put PH back to power?
Warisan? It has only eight MPs. But it seems Warisan is too selfish, even for the sake of the country, to support Anwar. Even if Anwar agrees to Mahathir’s six-month stint as PM with Anwar as deputy, what’s next? What really would have changed in six months that would make Warisan accept Anwar as the next PM? Tell it to the people. This is not just a game of musical chairs. The people need to be assured. The people need to see what is coming and to be prepared for it. They own this country, remember?
OK, who else? Ex-PKR MPs? It would be stretching the imagination to think Azmin Ali and his gang, apparently badly bruised by Anwar’s prolonged indifference to them, will ever return to Anwar’s side. Even if they do, will the people forgive and trust those who betrayed the people’s mandate? It really makes no sense.
Oh, maybe Mahathir plans to entice back to PH the defectors from Umno who had joined Bersatu after the 1998 general election only to undermine PH from within before defecting to PN. But why would they return to PH? Their job is done. Why would they want to leave their plum positions in government and at the helm of government-linked companies?
Let’s look around some more. Who else can Mahathir bring in? Pas? Few believe the party offers anything progressive for multiracial Malaysia. Look at the poor in Kelantan and Terengganu. Make a guess: why is Pas only popular among the unfortunate pockets of the poor? But then again, promises of heaven alone do not make for happy living in the here and now.
Unlike Barisan Nasional, Pas or even Muhyiddin’s Bersatu, PH should not pretend the populace is as naive and senseless as it thinks. People are tired of the daily doses of political sandiwara (stage shows). One day, PH leaders say they have the numbers. The next day, they say they don’t, puncturing the people’s hopes.
Mahathir, the DAP and Amanah must immediately cease giving false hope to the people, especially when the people have no stomach for roller coaster rides. Many ordinary people can only think of their hunger pangs and bread-and-butter issues: joblessness, empty pockets, mounting debt, exorbitant bills – a bleak future, with no light at the end of tunnel. They have little appetite for the political operas. No politician should underestimate the people. The people are suffering and they can be very unforgiving.
Mahathir has a lot of explaining to do
Mahathir’s latest comical sulk – that he will not work with PKR – lays him bare. He forgets too soon. Wasn’t it he who admitted he didn’t like Anwar and the DAP? Wasn’t it he who neglected reforms when he was in power? Wasn’t it he who arrogantly made unilateral decisions on key appointments?
Mahathir needs to explain why he did not consult his coalition partners before stubbornly resigning as PM – and then trying to form a government without the involvement of political parties. Do we really believe that Mahathir, having access to the best intelligence anyone can get, did not know what Muhyiddin and Azmin were up to all along behind not only his back, but also the backs of his coalition partners? Why did he allow it to happen?
How did Mahathir respond to the series of by-election losses so soon after taking power? He didn’t seem to be too bothered and instead looked the other way, indifferently. Was he making sure none of his ministers had the guts to tell him off?
And now PH wants all this to be replayed? Can PH please make some sense.
First, Mahathir insults the non-Malays by roaring at the “Malay Dignity Congress” driven by the then-opposition. Then, he insults the Malays by saying they are lazy. This man is just impossible. Have we forgotten the way he went after all the prime ministers we ever had after Abdul Razak Hussein? He even put an end to his own second stint as PM!
Can Mahathir really draw Malay votes? What nonsense! PH got the least Malay votes in the 2018 general election. Even his own Bersatu’s performance was dismal. The party stood in 52 parliamentary constituencies and won just 13, that too by slim margins. The other PH coalition members could have done far better in those constituencies. Mahathir wasted them. Can’t PH stalwarts not see through Mahathir’s fallacies?
So, let’s hear it from the DAP and Amanah: what do they know that they are not telling us about this bizarre proposition to nominate Mahathir yet again for the PM’s post?
Stop playing the numbers game
The allure of Power can be intriguing. But for now, PH needs first to increase its number of MPs. It would be wiser for PH to use its energy and resources to reinforce its ground for a better showing in the next general election. PH is still the best bet anytime for the country, its people and its future. But not without having more MPs. It needs stability and time to finish the unfinished business of reforms.
Under PN, the country will regress because the coalition parties cannot think beyond race and religion, and it is likely to be plagued by corruption. The reforms PH tried to introduce in its short reign will be reversed. Coffers could end up being scraped clean.
This is where PH’s long history as an effective opposition coalition will come into play. It should expose all government excesses. It should win over the people against PN and earn votes for the next general election.
But PH must stop playing the games the people have no more stomach for. Leave Mahathir alone to fret. May God give him good health and a long life. But this game – ‘now you have it (the numbers), now you don’t’? Stop it. Please. PH should only open its mouth when it achieves the numbers (the majority of MPs) and, in the meantime, stop giving the people false hope. – aliran.com
Sarajun Hoda Abdul Hassan, a long-time Aliran member, served previously in Bersih 2.0 and the National Water Services Commission. By profession, he is a cargo handling specialist