Missing context in the scramble

 pic by BERNAMA

LATELY, the late afternoons are seemingly filled with ominous music as the nation awaits the daily tally of Covid-19 new cases and deaths.

The figures keep climbing and despite attempts by some to downplay it — either by comparing it to the numbers afflicting neighbouring nations or justifying the increase due to the high frequency of tests conducted — the foreboding prevails, and then intensifies.

And the fact that the numbers kept increasing after the proclamation of the Emergency, another round of lockdown, and Movement Control Orders put into context the “failed government” tag that had stuck on the government for the past few months.

There is something amiss and with that the sense of helplessness and hopelessness becomes more apparent and pronounced, very much so because the nation feels rudderless.

While the citizenry is forced to stay at home resulting in many losing their livelihoods, the leaders, who are still receiving public funds, are in search of Turkish delights or styling off in gai Paris (pronounced as gay Paree and gay as in joyful).

All these acts, mostly without any rhyme or reason other than self-indulgence, basically shaped the failed government tag leading to the demand for Prime Minister (PM) Tan Sri Mahiaddin Md Yassin to resign.

The withdrawal of Umno’s support has added to Mahiaddin’s beleaguered status.

As far as face value is concerned, a decision made by the Umno supreme council, the party’s highest-making body during the interval between its general assembly, should have meant that Mahiaddin had immediately lost the support of 38 Umno MPs, meaning he has no majority to remain PM.

Instead, Umno MPs who are in the Cabinet joined the rest of the Perikatan Nasional (PN) MPs to affirm their support for Mahiaddin.

It didn’t change Mahiaddin’s questionable majority, but it exposed what sceptics had been observing that the Umno MPs would rather abandon their president and party for as long as they could keep their position.

On the flip side, the show of support from Cabinet members for the PM is indeed self-serving for they know the minute Mahiaddin falls, they lose their jobs and it is doubtful any future PM would want to recruit them given their present comical antics.

Despite that, even in their dullest moments, surely there is a spark that would remind them that the legitimacy of the PM is not determined by the support of Cabinet members he had appointed, but rather the support he enjoys in Parliament.

With Parliament convening in two weeks’ time, they should put into context their support and take it to the rightful platform so that Mahiaddin can finally cast aside the issue of his legitimacy, which had haunted and hounded him since taking his oath of office.

But that is highly unlikely. The speaker of the Dewan Negara had already sounded that any attempt to turn the parliamentary sitting to determine the support for or against the PM would not be allowed.

This helps to put into context why the demand by the Opposition previously for Parliament to be convened would not lead to any change in the nation’s leadership.

In fact, given the limited five days of Parliament proceedings, it is doubtful that much could be expected out of it other than being a platform for the government to deliver its “ceramah” monologue with minimal feedback from the opposite side.

It also then puts into context why Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had proposed to the King for the setting up of the National Recovery Council (NRC) since the failed government is unlikely to budge and a new government is unlikely to be formed.

The NRC, not to be mistaken with the government’s National Recovery Plan or NRP which was made public after Dr Mahathir’s NRC was proposed to the King, if realised would not be subjected to the government’s control but instead formed under the auspices of the King.

The NRC would be devoid of political ambitions nor aspirations with specific and targeted objectives. Thus far, apart from the proposed NRC, there has been no other proposal to comprehensively address the pandemic, economic, social and educational crises besieging the nation.

It should also cast aside delusional opinions from the likes of DAP’s Prof Dr P Ramasamy (picture) who predicted a conciliatory move from Dr Mahathir towards Mahiaddin and PN in return for the registration of the former’s Parti Pejuang Tanah Air.

There is no context whatsoever and in fact, hypocritical to a large extent.

In the first place, if there is anyone or any party that had been showing conciliatory measures towards and in particular Umno, it has been the DAP. Wasn’t it the DAP’s assemblymen who combined efforts with Umno to bring about the downfall of the Perak’s Parti Bersatu Pribumi Malaysia’s mentri besar a few months ago?

If the DAP insisted it was alright as they only worked together in bringing down a backstabber, they should not forget the numerous efforts or pronouncements made by Perak DAP demanding for the Bersatu MP to resign, and that was while Bersatu was still part of Pakatan Harapan (PH).

Similarly, wasn’t it the likes of Ramasamy and Ronnie Liu, apart from PKR leaders and supporters that had demanded for Dr Mahathir to step down and yet when he did, they got their knickers knotted and questioned him for resigning.

And the political grapevine had been tingling since last year of PH MPs, DAPs’ included, wanting to allow Mahiaddin and PN to continue ruling the nation and in the Confidence and Supply arrangement.

Lest Ramasamy and his ilk forget, when Budget 2021 was up for voting, it was Dr Mahathir among the 13 who stood up against it, while the rest of the PH MPs, DAP especially, sat through the voting, much to the chagrin of PH supporters.

Ramasamy’s labelling of Dr Mahathir being a one-time dictator lacks any intellectual context, especially when his party was part of those who supported Dr Mahathir to his second stint as PM.

As if that was not enough, when PH leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim failed to prove his numbers before the King after Dr Mahathir resigned, wasn’t it DAP and PH leaders who went crawling to Dr Mahathir asking him to be their PM candidate again and agreeing to his terms.

Finally, Ramasamy attempted to ride the moral high ground, while discussing Dr Mahathir, pointing out that the nation is being built on the twin toxic pillars of racial and religious bigotry.

And for good measures, Ramasamy threw in the idea of Dr Mahathir endorsing PN as the government for the Malays and by the Malays.

And lest Ramasamy also forgets, at the height of the Liberation Tamil Tigers Eelam (LTTE) controversy of which he was alleged to be involved, Dr Mahathir had asked Mahiaddin, then home minister, to not hold those accused of being LTTE supporters and to be offered bail.

That was one of the lead issues that was used by the movers of the Sheraton Move to justify abandoning PH and DAP.

And while Ramasamy liberally criticised Dr Mahathir of his Malay-centric tendencies, where was he when his colleague Liu insisted on not diluting the “Chineseness” of the DAP? Obviously, the elephant in the room was too small for him to notice.

For easy grasp, politicians from both PN and PH should look into the mirror for context.

But pity the mirror. It is most likely going to crack.

  • Shamsul Akmar is the editor of The Malaysian Reserve.