Choices, choices everywhere, nary a vote to spare


THE acrimony between Barisan Nasional (BN) and Perikatan Nasional (PN), who are in essence partners in propping up the federal government, persists unabated. 

To be more specific, BN and Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi took offence to PN’s PAS president Tan Sri Abdul Hadi Awang’s reference of Umno being a lame duck, prompting Ahmad Zahid to mockingly say that Hadi is better suited to be a zoologist given his frequent animal-related allusions. 

The pretence of their being champions for Malay and Islamic unity is anything but moot and all that is left for sympathisers and advocates alike is a bitter after taste of a hypocritical misrepresentation of the race and religion. 

For the sake of clarity, there is probably a need to see how things are racking up while the nation grapples to get itself out of the political wilderness. And what is shaping up in the run-up to the Johor polls is probably a cursory look of what holds. 

In the last election, Johor voters proved — despite Umno’s and by extension the BN — having had a grip on the state since independence, that they were abreast with national issues and were not going to allow race, religion or sentimentality to hold sway. 

In fact, attempts by an unelected force and purveyor of the parochial Bangsa Johor sentiments to favour Umno and BN could not change the collective psyche of the voters and the coveted state became a Pakatan Harapan dominion. 

Within weeks after the Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia-led Sheraton Move, Umno and BN were literally returned to Umno/BN though at that time, the BN, Bersatu and PAS relations were still in the religious/racial unity fervour. The PN had yet to be spawned and the mainstay of MN were still Umno and PAS. 

Now that the kleptocrats of Umno/BN had manoeuvred the Johor polls, Bersatu president Tan Sri Mahiaddin Md Yassin who led the Sheraton Move, hence responsible for giving Umno/BN a lifeline, is now urging Johor voters to reject the kleptocrats and their party/coalition. 

He went one step ahead by declaring he would be personally ashamed to be associated with a party that embraced someone who had been convicted of serious crimes as a leader, in obvious reference to Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak, who seems to be in the midst of anything involving Umno. 

But Mahiaddin, for his role in the Sheraton Move and deemed a traitor by those who voted the PH in, has lost the credibility he enjoyed before the 2018 general election in attempting to use the issue of the kleptocrats. 

And despite being widely accepted as lead kleptocrat, named as a plundering idiot by a foreign publication and judicially declared a national embarrassment, Najib’s reaction to Mahiaddin could be extremely painful. 

In which Najib had said that he found it strange that Mahiaddin didn’t feel embarrassed when they (Umno and Najib) supported the former to become PM. 

In fact, Najib added that without their support Mahiaddin would not have become PM for 17 months. 

By any measures, such a reply cannot but have been a painful stab deep into the system and yet, such which would not solve the mess Johor is in and later on the nation when the national polls are called. 

The way the Johor election is shaping up, it has turned into a battle between the kleptocrats versus the traitors, and that seems to be what is being offered on the plate, at least that’s how the two factions are trying to confine the debate. 

Logically, both should not even be considered by the voters. After all, the majority of the Johor voters had rejected the kleptocrats in the last polls and they should not have any problem emulating such feats as Umno remains kleptocrat-dominated as it was in the last polls. 

Bersatu should also not enjoy any favours as it had betrayed the voters’ mandate of 2018, and gave the kleptocrats an empowering lifeline. If there’s anyone to be blamed for the rise of the kleptocrats from the ashes it has to be Mahiaddin and Bersatu. 

Unfortunately, lead Opposition PH is in disarray and directionless, unable even to agree on a common symbol. 

Apart from that, it is somewhat tainted for the memorandum of understanding it signed with the Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s government and acting as an opposition of impotence. 

The other parties, namely Parti Pejuang Tanah Air, Parti Warisan Sabah and Malaysian United Democratic Alliance, do not carry the baggage of the other parties but being debutants lace their foray with much unpredictability. 

The best thing that can happen for these Opposition parties and PH is that the Johor voters still find kleptocracy unacceptable, as of traitors, and that the two PMs representing the two competing yet complementing factions had been failed governments that had plunged the nation into utter misery. 

There should also be an APB broadcast that the factions that were unified in the name of Malay and Islamic unity have opted for severance which in effect meant they had forfeited their right to the claim of a higher purpose. 

Compartmentalised as such, it isn’t such a bad package offered to the Johor voters if good sense prevails. 

And beware of kleptocrats bearing gifts. 

Shamsul Akmar is the editor of The Malaysian Reserve.