Malaysians were recently told that the Johor elections were called because political stability was urgently needed for the government to win a comfortable majority that would allow it to focus on improving the living standards of Johor people.
And yet, the run-up to the elections has so far witnessed competing political parties, particularly Bersatu, Umno and Pas, making unpleasant remarks about each other. Incidentally, these comments are painfully familiar to Malaysians.
What caught the attention of many were the defections of two politicians from Bersatu, which triggered heated exchanges between the party bigwigs and the defectors.
Bersatu president Mahiaddin Yasin naturally expressed his displeasure at former Johor Bersatu chief Mazlan Bujang abandoning the party, calling his action “dishonourable”.
In response, Mazlan told Mahiaddin to look in the mirror, reminding the latter of his central role in the so-called Sheraton Move that saw him take Bersatu out of Pakatan Harapan (PH), which led to the collapse of the PH government in February 2020. Mazlan said it was quite rich for Mahiaddin, who had betrayed his allies in PH, to be accusing someone else of acting without honour.
It looks like the kettle is calling the pot black, whichever way one looks at it, which does not help to address the people’s curiosity over how the state can be better managed, economically and democratically.
Nonetheless, Malaysians can easily relate to the frustration, nay anger, of those who have been betrayed. To be sure, betrayal is painful, especially when it disrupts a plan to carve a better future, such as the much-awaited reform agenda that PH promised in the last general election.
Bersatu was struck by another blow when the Johor State Assembly member for Larkin, Mohd Izhar Ahmad, defected from the party, claiming he had lost faith in the Bersatu president.
Perikatan Nasional information chief Mohd Solihan Badri snarled at Izhar, accusing him of only being interested in keeping his executive council and director’s positions in several state-owned companies.
While Solihan’s accusation may be debatable or even unfair, it, however, reminds Malaysians that carrots were dangled in front of certain politicians in recent times to garner political support. This was how some MPs got plum positions in government-linked companies, among other high places.
As if not to be outdone, Pas president Hadi Awang waded into the row by accusing Umno of being ungrateful, arising from the latter’s reluctance to form an electoral pact for the Johor outing.
Hadi reportedly likened Umno to a lame duck that Pas purportedly saved from drowning in the last general election. After being healed, it went on its own, which, the Marang MP added, was immoral and not correct.
Indeed, ordinary Malaysians understand very well what it means to be “immoral”, particularly in a political environment where political marriages are blessed at the altar of political expediency.
Umno supreme council member Mohd Puad Zarkashi jumped in to remind Hadi that it was Pas that had weakened the Muafakat Nasional pact by joining Perikatan Nasional and sidelining party leaders who supported the Umno-Pas accord.
Almost choking on the metaphor of ‘marriage’, Umno vice-president Mohamed Khaled Nordin mocked Pas as a serial divorcee, indicating the party’s many failed relationships with other parties. The former Johor menteri besar said the Islamist party had made numerous marital vows with other parties, only to pull out of wedlock, eventually. Quite a player, it would seem.
Such political withdrawals may not instil confidence in Johor voters about where their state is headed, but then it may well be the right season for frogs to leap out to mate. – The Malaysian Insight