When reflection is not required

pic by TMR FILE

EVEN the most quixotic optimist would find it difficult to see the nation being anything but rudderless.

What makes it doubly depressing is that not only are the leaders in the government moving around like headless chickens, but even the leading Opposition pact like the Pakatan Harapan (PH) seem to have been zombified.

And then there’s a lot of talk about the need for an early general election to provide the party or pact that wins the necessary legitimacy to manage the nation without the looming threat of being brought down when MPs choose to change sides or jump ship.

Further, to the advocates, it would put an end to the issue of a backdoor government which at this stage, proved to be an anathema to the Malaysian faction which voted the PH into power in the last polls.

But such a thoughtful narrative is quite lame when it comes from Umno, or to be exact, the party’s pro-kleptocrat faction.

After all, they were instrumental in the backdoor government which resulted in the appointments of two prime ministers (PMs), no matter how clueless they may have ended up to be.

To add to the nation’s woes is widespread corruption and abuse of power, perceived or otherwise.

And for a nation once touted as an Asian tiger and a newly-industrialised country, Malaysia and Malaysians have today sobered up and set their expectations below such marks, and are merely hoping that the leaders could at least help them regain their footing.

If the government leaders and the PM are clueless in which route to take, the least they can do is to retard the corruption and abuses, which will in effect regain public and investors’ confidence.

In other words, even if the leaders are without ideas and visions on how to propel the nation forward, a singular, committed act of combating corrupt practises and abuses of power may very well be the strategy to take the nation out of the doldrums.

Instead, public opinion is already formed that no one in the position of power is serious about addressing the scourge and such sentiment is not merely a perception but fast becoming a fact.

At any other period, such lame duck and clueless leadership had always been a boon for the Opposition regardless it is by default. The 2008 general election was one example where “elegant silence” could not stem the tide of public abhorrence to ineffective leadership.

And people love the underdogs and these sentiments grew from strength to strength in the 2013 elections and culminated with the downfall of the Barisan Nasional (BN) in the 2018 polls.

Given the manner the PH government lost the government some 22 months later, through betrayal and deceptions, it would have naturally placed the Opposition in the position of strength and ready to take over whenever the opportunity arises.

This confidence reverberated even across the divide so much so that the then PM resorted to delaying Parliament sittings to calling for the declaration of the emergency and despite claiming that it was for combatting the pandemic, not many in Malaysia bought it.

And when the Parliament was called to session, it was supposed to, finally, be the moment of glory for PM-in-waiting Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

It was not to be and several attempts later, despite declaring having strong, formidable and convincing numbers, he sputtered and failed to deliver, despite Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and MPs on his side giving their votes to the former.

What was left for Anwar, PH leaders and their supporters were to embark on the blame game — blaming Dr Mahathir for resigning and the fall of the PH government.

Ignored is Anwar’s role in making the position of his then deputy in PKR, Datuk Seri Azmin Ali, untenable and for him to lead enough MPs to bring about the downfall of the PH government.

Given how rapid the political developments had been since, that episode is now history and what transpired after the failure of Anwar and PH to redeem the government is what was then described as the historic signing of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) between PH and the new PM Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

If there is anything historic about it is that it is the second time the Opposition had been neutered since 1969 with the formation of BN, dubbed then as the greater alliance.

PH leaders may be in denial but outside their circle, those who are opposed to the current government and its pandering to the kleptocrats who are unashamedly parading their shenanigans, are equally exasperated with the PH which seems equally clueless and headless.

And their leaders continue to be defensive over the MoU, claiming that it was for the sake of political stability which in effect was for the sake of the people.

But popular opinion points towards it being self-serving and the stability is for the government to continue being irresponsible while being able to hold on to power and this time around, legitimised by the PH.

It is pathetic that PH leaders had been reduced to that they spend time ruing over who would have been the best PM for the nation and writers sympathetic to them sharing favourable opinion of Tun Musa Hitam.

It opened doors to Dr Mahathir’s haters who then chose to compare him to Musa which is without basis nor merit.

In the first place, if Musa is whom they painted him to be, it is quite incredulous that they didn’t turn to him when the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) scandal cropped up or when the kleptocrats were running wild and using all the power at their disposal to silence their critics.

Instead, they joined hands with Dr Mahathir, who not only took the brunt of the kleptocrats’ ire but led them to victory.

Musa may not want to be dragged into the debate and he did not make any claims as to his prowess in this issue. The fact is that, he may have made his displeasure known when the 1MDB scandal erupted, but Musa did not offer to dirty his hands or throw down his gauntlet. Dr Mahathir did.

Of course, today, the critics may claim that they would have made it even without Dr Mahathir but the crux of the matter is that they accepted his leadership then and it was under his leadership that the Opposition brought the then perceived to be undefeatable BN behemoth to its knees.

Yet again, these are matters that doesn’t make PH or the Opposition a better option than the present government — almost mirrorless co-existence rather that requires no reflection.

Directionless and void of leadership, the nation is deprived of an Opposition that can replace the government for its misdeeds and misdemeanours. That makes them nearly as bad as the ruling coalition. They can, however, still find some redemption.

Let go and let others pick up the pieces.

Shamsul Akmar is the editor of The Malaysian Reserve.