pic by TMR FILE
THE incessant whining and lamentations from some segments of Pakatan Harapan (PH) supporters over the betrayal of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia which led to the Sheraton Move and eventually to the fall of the PH government have, intentionally or otherwise, somewhat concealed earlier betrayals.
Of course, these were conveniently ignored so as to allow them to continue blaming Bersatu and in particular its former chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (picture).
The betrayals were openly committed during the Tanjung Piai by-election in November 2019, about three months before the Sheraton Move.
That by-election, which was called after Bersatu representative died, saw non-Malay voters, in particular the Chinese, abandon Bersatu and vote for an MCA candidate.
The swing was colossal — from a 524-vote majority in the Bersatu victory in the 2018 General Election to a defeat of 15,086-vote majority defeat in the by-election.
One of the reasons given for the non-Malay vote swing against Bersatu was because of Dr Mahathir’s decision to attend a Malay Dignity Congress a month earlier.
Basically, the sentiments expressed by the Tanjung Piai non-Malay voters was that it was wrong for Dr Mahathir to attend the congress and in so far as they were concerned it was racist. These sentiments had already been widely expressed prior to that.
It was actually unfounded because during the congress, Dr Mahathir had used the opportunity to censure the Malays for being lazy and complacent and this had caused them to lose out in a land they claim to be theirs.
In fact, after the congress, Dr Mahathir became a target among some of the Malays for censuring them and obviously, they had expected him to rally them to unite and build up strength to “put the non-Malays in their place” and “reclaim the land” from the non-Malays.
But Dr Mahathir did not pander to them nor did he try to be a populist.
Instead, he persisted with his consistent treatment of wanting the Malays to look inward and self-assess.
Regardless of how it turned out, in the first place, it was actually racist on the part of the PH non-Malays to insist that Dr Mahathir did not attend the congress.
Firstly, when Dr Mahathir decided to work with PH, he had insisted on forming a Malay-based party — Bersatu — meaning that while working with the multi-racial partners, he wanted a specific attention be given to the Malay voters and that needed to be pursued through Bersatu.
The non-Malay partners and multi-racial Malays agreed to it, knowing full well that the only chance of defeating the Umno-led Barisan Nasional (BN) was by having a Malay based party leading PH.
In short, to get the Malay votes, a Malay and Malay party must lead PH for the objective to be achieved.
And it worked. Umno and BN were defeated, and Bersatu and PH took over the government after the 2018 national polls.
Yet, when Dr Mahathir attended the congress, basically for him to meet his electorate, the non-Malays opposed it and called him a racist.
It is quite a twisted logic. When they wanted the Malay votes, they agreed and supported Dr Mahathir’s stand on wanting a Malay-based party. However, when they had already secured power, they opposed any move by Dr Mahathir to meet the Malays.
It was once pointed out that those who opposed Dr Mahathir for attending the congress would have felt the same if the congress was held before the 2018 polls.
Based on the campaign and run-up to the polls, chances are they would have been pushing for Dr Mahathir to attend it as it would have been a great opportunity for him to address the Malay crowd and woo them to PH’s side.
But since power was already in hand, the Malay and their concerns were of no consequence, hence, the opposition to Dr Mahathir attending the congress.
If the non-Malays used the congress to deny Dr Mahathir the votes in Tanjung Piai, Bersatu president Tan Sri Mahiaddin Md Yassin had used the outcome as the basis to review Bersatu’s ties with PH.
It was the precursor to the Sheraton Move and the opportunity for Mahiaddin and his ilk to consummate ties with Umno and PAS in the name of Malay unity.
While Mahiaddin’s betrayal of PH and Dr Mahathir is real, the betrayal of PH’s non-Malays towards Dr Mahathir and Bersatu was equally real.
Back in the present times, when Dr Mahathir decided to set up Parti Pejuang Tanah Air, his former PH partners, in particular certain personalities in the DAP, had denounced it as a racist party.
The denunciation actually exposed their racist tendencies because Pejuang’s cause is consistent with what Bersatu was originally set up for and to a large degree similar to that of Umno.
If DAP accepted the Bersatu pre-2018 polls, why is Pejuang unacceptable? Is it because Pejuang is not with PH and DAP, hence, not going to be contributive to their pursuit for power?
In fact, given Pejuang’s raison d’être, DAP and PH should be supportive of it and more, regardless of whether it is with them in a coalition or otherwise.
Firstly, it is consistent on its Malay agenda which is about Malay longevity and has nothing to do with Malay supremacy, which is an attribute strictly for the Malay rulers.
It opposes corruption and opposes Umno for allowing it to be usurped by the kleptocrats and court cluster. It also opposes Bersatu for the betrayal of PH.
It did not gain from the Sheraton Move and neither did it flinch in its opposition to the backdoor government. Hence, there shouldn’t be any reason for PH or its components to oppose its existence.
Unless, it’s because Pejuang stands as a reminder of their racist tendencies and conniving ways.
Shamsul Akmar is the editor of The Malaysian Reserve.