Sheraton Move turns anniversary of triumph into one of dashed hopes

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Muhyiddin Yassin's coalition - Photograph: Bernama/Malay Mail

But the future of the country still lies in our hands; let us make the present administration accountable for its actions and policies, Mustafa K Anuar writes

For Malaysians who voted for substantive social reform in the 2018 general election, the second anniversary of Pakatan Harapan’s electoral triumph, which fell on 9 May 2020, was obviously a painful moment.

Reeling from the infamous Sheraton Move, they have every reason to feel dejected and angry after seeing their dream of a new Malaysia snatched away before their very eyes by a bloodless coup, hatched by leaders of Bersatu, Umno-Pas pact Muafakat Nasional and PKR defectors.

These parties with others in the rump Barisan Nasional hurriedly formed the Perikatan Nasional government. The less charitable deem it a backdoor government.

These shenanigans, as we know, led to the collapse of the PH government on 24 February, a premature death that cut short the attempt to fully develop, among other things, transparency and accountability in governance.

To say the voters are disheartened may be an understatement –  for these voters had in mind a Malaysia that is cleansed of corruption, particularly the stain of the infamous 1MDB scandal, as well as such other cases of financial impropriety involving the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) and Lembaga Tabung Haji.

In fact, taking down then-Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is primarily associated with the 1MDB scandal, was the major thrust of the PH pact’s electoral campaign, which gained traction among voters.

Additionally, the voters also looked forward to the restoration of the rule of law after being subjected to years of abuse of power under the rule of BN, which made use of a slew of anti-democratic laws, a few of which, unfortunately, are still in the statute books.

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There were also the issues of poverty, cost of living, and uneven development that PH was expected to squarely address.

Many Malaysians have remained averse to the old politics of race and religion peddled by the previous administrations, and PH was to provide an environment conducive to the dwindling of such divisive politics.

The questionable old politics, however, is likely to thrive under the new administration, given the rallying cry of at least the Muafakat Nasional pact within the PN government, ie to increasingly prioritise the interests of the Malay-Muslim community over others in this diverse society.

It must be equally heart-wrenching for overseas Malaysians, highly driven by a profound desire for change, who had expended their time, energy and their own resources to partake in the last general election. A number of them flew home to make sure they could cast their votes by the midweek deadline that the Election Commission nastily fixed as polling day, thereby putting up an obstacle for out-of-town voters.

The zeal for change also prompted a highly organised and passionate group of volunteers to connect with each other over Facebook and other platforms across the world to make sure every last vote got into the ballot box.

The political tsunami that ensued was well-earned by these Malaysians and PH leaders, who had worked hard against all odds. They had to contend with every trick thrown at them by the other side, ranging from gerrymandering and malapportionment to the deployment of the mainstream media and abuse of power, including making state resources available to the incumbents for use in their campaigns.

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And yet, after all that, the aspirations among ordinary Malaysians for a better society came to a rude halt with the political sleight of hand known as the Sheraton Move.

The fact that these Malaysians did not vote for the new government is, understandably, enough to frustrate and enrage them.

However, such negative sentiments ought not to fester to the point of reducing them to near paralysis.

Malaysians need to get back on their feet and collectively work towards the betterment of the country in various ways, one of which is to make the present administration accountable for its actions and policies.

Let it not be lost on us that the future of our country still lies in our hands as concerned and responsible citizen and voters of a democracy.

Source: themalaysianinsight.com

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