The time is nigh…

pic by BERNAMA

FOR a few hours, at least among the less sceptical, Kedahans must have had wonderful dreams and fantasies of what a wonderful future lies ahead.

Such was the impact of their mentri besar’s (MB) announcement that beneath their land was RM43 trillion worth of mineral deposits, only to have those dreams dashed when he clarified that it was only worth RM62 billion.

Obviously, it was a case of the mouth outpacing the brain, but an underlying message was that there was no concern that such massive deposits may in the end be a curse rather than a blessing.

The story of Nauruans and their phosphate riches may enlighten the Kedah MB.

Nevertheless, the comedy presented by the Kedah MB was still unable to upstage the comedy performed by the Opposition, minus 13, in Parliament recently.

A week since the debacle of not standing up to demand a bloc voting over the second reading of Budget 2021 in Parliament still rankled, even among the least discerning.

Attempts to explain and justify the decision had been unceremoniously, if not rudely, dismissed and the unforgiving mood towards the Opposition MPs remains unabated.

There are two aspects that made the act of not standing up a contentious issue.

Firstly, it was the manner the Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and the MPs had whipped up the sentiment that the second reading of the budget would see it being turned into a vote of no-confidence against the prime minister (PM).

Secondly, even if they did not have the numbers, the least they could have done was to stand up and oppose the budget they had vehemently dismissed as merely to serve the political interest of the ruling party.

Further to that, the justification that the minister of finance had heeded the demands of the Opposition — in particular the Employees Provident Fund’s withdrawal and the extension of the bank loan moratorium — were unacceptable as both these matters were not a budget concern and in fact, under the purview of the executive.

In essence, the Opposition leader and MPs had disappointed their supporters on two counts — that Anwar did not have the numbers he claimed to have to demand PM Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to relinquish his post, and that they lacked the gumption or wisdom to act as an effective Opposition.

It left those opposed to the backdoor government disappointed, helpless and exasperated.

It also exposed the Opposition of being leaderless or having one that is ineffective, and if that is the leader to take on the Perikatan Nasional, illegitimate as it may be, it might as well be given a walkover.

Ironically, while the Opposition leader failed to live up to expectations, the one taking up the mantle is its former ally, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, and a few “renegades” from Opposition MPs that stood up to “charge the fort”.

While critics of Anwar may have a field day of ridiculing him over his “strong, formidable and convincing majority”, it doesn’t solve the issue or wither the Opposition.

With more and more losing faith and hope on the Opposition to topple the backdoor government and restore one with some semblance of the people’s choice, it is obviously that stage where desperate times require desperate measures.

If those opposed to the current government reflect on how they managed to form the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government in the first place, it was clearly a case of uniting in facing a monstrous existence that was robbing the nation.

If they were honest and stopped attempting to champion their champion, they would stop the narrative of Dr Mahathir grovelling to the courts to meet Anwar and seek reconciliation.

Both are seasoned political players and they knew what they needed to do to bring about the fall of the Barisan Nasional behemoth.

For Dr Mahathir, if he wanted to put a stop to Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak’s kleptocracy, only a united Opposition would make it possible.

If Anwar’s supporters painted him as being magnanimous, Dr Mahathir’s supporters would reply that he was prepared to swallow his pride for the sake of the nation.

What should be the more important point is that the victory was delivered and if Muhyiddin’s government, they insist is illegitimate, is to be replaced, a new and formidable approach would need to be formulated.

It is probably time to reset PH or better still build a new coalition, one that is without the excess baggage of the recent past and a coalition of the willing.

Holding on to a coalition that is struggling to live up to expectations, at times suspected of being prepared to consider the kleptocrats in the quest for power and number, lacks creativity, self-serving, if not outrightly unintelligent.

Something’s got to give. Under its current form and its present structure, it has proven to be ineffective, clueless, directionless and bordering on becoming irrelevant.

But to get there, to dismantle the structure and leave the comfort zone requires courage, vision and wisdom.

The people deserve better than a backdoor government, an ineffective and bloated Cabinet, arrogant backbenchers, conniving and self-serving political elites, and delusional kleptocrats who are where they are by default.

It is obvious and for everyone to see — they are bound together for the power and spoils, while a few hope to overturn their criminality.

Everything they do only points to self-destruction and unluckily, they’ll drag everyone else down.

Unless, someone pushes them over the edge first.

Shamsul Akmar is the editor of The Malaysian Reserve.