Of wagging tails and wishing wells

pic by BERNAMA

IT WOULD not be an exaggeration to state that there was an outrage across the board over the NFA (no further action) decision on Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Dr Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali (picture) for flouting the mandatory home quarantine rule.

One of his PAS colleagues tried to deflect the public outcry by stating that with the case settled, the Pakatan Harapan (PH) politicians would have to find a new issue to harp on, insinuating that the issue was strictly political.

Very few bought the argument and it was understandable, given the fact that leaders from the ruling Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition which PAS is a member, had also joined the chorus, expressing displeasure with the NFA despite a lengthy attempt to justify it from the AG.

In fact, PAS had been part of the ridicule for what is perceived as a double standard in the application of rules since the Movement Control Order (MCO) came into play.

The more strident of the critics took the issue one notch higher — questioning PAS and its sense of justice and impeaching its credentials of wanting to implement the hudud or the Islamic penal code when it can’t even handle justice at a very basic stage.

Some mockingly contended that if hudud was implemented, when it came to the amputation of the hand for stealing, PAS leaders found guilty for such crimes would only have their fingers chopped.

Islamists may find such nuances insulting, but such mockery is only expected when PAS leaders, who had been riding the moral and religious high ground, seemed impervious to the injustice and double-standard that Mohd Khairuddin’s case represented.

In many ways, such mockery is deserving given PN’s clarion call when wanting to bring down the PH government and justifying their backdoor manoeuvre on grounds of preserving everything Malay and Islam.

While the case represents the morality and conduct of the present leaders in the government, the underbelly of it all points towards realpolitik, where morals and ideology are the least of concern.

It goes back to the very core of the reason why Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had chosen not to entertain the urgings of Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and several other leaders of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia in February to abandon PH and forma coalition with Umno and PAS.

With a razor-thin majority in Parliament and perpetually being placed in a “tail wagging the dog” situation by Umno, Muhyiddin cannot afford to crack the whip or cane, whichever he prefers.

In fact, he is expected to spare the rod when dealing with aberrant or deviant MPs as he is vulnerable and subject to threats of support being withdrawn.

Muhyiddin, at this point in time, is on political life support that is managed by self-serving allies who are prepared to pull the plug whenever his conduct deprives them, or if they have a better option with better gains.

The recent episode of Umno wanting to pull out of PN and the wide speculation that its leader had thrown his support behind PH prime minister (PM) candidate Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is of the essence.

The move has nothing to do with the interest of the Malays or Islam, instead it was purely about not getting what they wanted and suspiciously promised otherwise by the new alliance.

Now that Umno and its leader seemed to have a change of heart and settling for a “ceasefire” and justifying in being done in the interest of the people and in the face of the escalating Covid-19 cases, Anwar’s hope of becoming the ninth PM seemed dashed yet again.

If Anwar now doesn’t have the numbers, it meant that speculations that he had it earlier with the support of the kleptocrats are not far-fetched.

How this would impact his relations with his allies the DAP and Amanah — who had adamantly insisted that they would not have anything to do with the kleptocrats — would remain speculative at this stage.

Unless it is accepted that having once dizzied by the taste of power, they too have become Machiavellian that the means are of no consequence as long as they get their fix.

Still, despite Anwar’s diminishing hopes, Muhyiddin’s position remains precarious and it is doubtful that he has any confidence of pushing for a vote of confidence, let alone face a vote of no confidence.

If Muhyiddin’s numbers are doubtful and so is Anwar’s; who then has the real numbers?

It is probably a case that the numbers would only be determined when they are put forth in Parliament. There are, however, doubts that anyone could really prove to have the numbers and the Parliament is quintessentially hung.

This has prompted some opinions that the King should initiate for a state of emergency, given the political instability augmented by the pandemic.

Given Malaysia’s strides in democratisation and despite views that it had derailed since the backdoor government, it is still yet an incongruous existence.

There are numerous exits out of the political quagmire the nation seemed sucked in with the Parliament being the place to start.

Warts and all, the country has journeyed far in its search to be a just and democratic nation.

A unity government is not too bad an idea compared to suspending Parliament and centralising power in the hands of few. It should not even be considered, let alone an option.

So, be very careful about what you wish for.

Shamsul Akmar is the editor of The Malaysian Reserve