Some Pakatan Harapan leaders and supporters alike, are falling over each other in trying to justify the new alliance between the coalition and other parties, in particular Barisan Nasional/Umno.
It is understandable that they had to work overtime on this as the very core of their campaign and others in the recently concluded 15th general election was to stop Umno-led BN, failing which, it would mean the return of the kleptocrats and the most corrupted of all those corrupted, in their own words.
There were suspicion among those opposed to Umno/BN that there was collusion between PH chairman, and now Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, but it was vehemently denied by the former.
Making the rounds were statutory declarations which Umno candidates were asked to sign before Zahid to empower him to decide on the path to be taken by the party post-election, which was suspected to be part of collusion’s strategy.
But all these are now moot given that PH supporters are so gleeful that Zahid’s, and Umno’s, support had ensured Anwar’s ascension to the coveted post.
Also dismissed is the notion that Umno being part of the Government is actually extending a lifeline to the kleptocrats which were roundly rejected by its traditional voters, leaving it with only 26 seats from the 54 it won in the 2018 polls.
Attempts are also made to dismiss the notion that it is a non-Malay dominated government using numbers from the newly-cobbled, post-electoral arrangements and subverting the fact that PH on its own was only supported by 11 percent Malays and in terms of seats, it had only 31 Malay representatives of the 82 it won.
Some of the 11 percent Malays were patronising, even snobbish towards the 54 percent that supported the Perikatan Nasional, something which was not missed by an American professor Zachary Abuza who, among others, wrote that progressive urban Malays who voted for Anwar’s Parti Keadilan Rakyat and PH were condescending towards the rural Malay electorate.
But raising it at a time when the new mantra is inclusivity and multi-racialism, the concern over the imbalance will be dismissed as being racist or too race-centric.
No one in PH seems that interested to know why the majority of Malays, numbering 89 percent in total, rejected them. Now that the PH had embraced the 30-odd percent supporting Umno/BN kleptocrats, they had conveniently reduced the percentage of those opposed to the PH.
And the way to diminish the rejection is to box the PN supporting Malays as those influenced by the religious and racist rhetoric spewed by their leaders.
In fact, the PH and Anwar are now working overtime to ensure that every utterance by the likes of PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang are sized for their religious extremism and racism.
Given Hadi’s unimaginative monologues, it’s easier to accept DAP’s racist taunts of PAS being Taliban rather than realising that the taunts had very much affirmed Hadi’s accusation of the DAP being Islamophobic.
And who is to dispute Hadi, especially not the DAP and to a large degree PH, given that the Hadi today is no different than the Hadi of the heady Pakatan Rakyat days when DAP leaders had publicly and affectionately hugged him, and neither is he different from the Hadi of the 1980s when he issued the damning decree on Umno.
But this too is of no consequence as the PH is no more fearful of the return of the kleptocrats than it is of the spectre of the green wave following PAS’ emphatic show and securing 49 seats, the highest number of seats by any party singularly.
The fear of PAS’ growing influence is enough for the smug 11 percent Malays and their non-Malay alliance to not consider that the 54 percent Malays were actually savvier in which they ditched Umno and refused to vote for PH because they were wary of the potential collusion between Anwar and Ahmad Zahid.
In other words, the 54 percent Malays had stuck to the national clarion call of ditching the kleptocrats compared with the 11 percent who are willing to now embrace the kleptocrats they had urged the nation to reject wholesale.
They seem to have forgotten how they had disparaged Ahmad Zahid, labelled him as a “pendatang” or migrant, and other racist taunts which would make even the worst critics of the Umno president cringe.
The new mantra is unity, a unity Government (which is a misnomer as it is nothing more than a post-electoral pact or coalition) that promotes inclusivity, that is need-based and all for multi-racial co-existence. So inclusive it is even considering Ahmad Zahid worthy for a Deputy Prime Minister’s post.
While the hypocrisy is extremely apparent given PH’s leaders and supporters previous need to wear principles and values on their sleeves, the current episode is unlikely going to get them off their moral high horse perch.
Nevertheless, the show must go. The only problem is that these calls, though striking the right notes, are more rhetoric and flippant rather than a clear idea of how it could be achieved.
The litmus test is actually on some key words and phrases which is frequently used to disparage Malay voters who supported Umno and other Malay parties which are not part of PH.
For one, the issue of Ketuanan Melayu versus Ketuanan Malaysia, the former translated by the PH and Malay apologists as Malay supremacy and aligned to Umno while the latter is Malaysian supremacy a concept promoted lately by DAP’s stalwart Lim Kit Siang.
They however refuse to realise that Ketuanan Melayu, if not linked to Umno, is meant to be Malay primacy and the philosophy that the land symbolically belonged to the Malay Rulers and accepting this is an acceptance that the King or Ruler of the land would always be of Malay origin.
Secondly, about being Malay first or Malaysian first.
Again, if it is accepted that the peninsula is the Persekutuan Tanah Melayu or the Federation of Malay Land, then a Malay being a Malaysian is a given.
In fact, it is an insult to even ask such a question.
After all, the PH et al supported the Malaysia Agreement 1963 or MA 63 to be re-instated verbatim so as to acknowledge that Sabah, Sarawak and the Persekutuan Tanah Melayu as the coming together of equal partners to form Malaysia.
As the Malays from the peninsula, nobody should ask anyone from the Borneo states whether they are Sabahan or Sarawakian first. Their being Malaysian is a given. And stop comparing Indonesia and Thailand as examples of multi-cultural co-existence.
That’s wanting to have the cake and eat it.
Shamsul Akmar is an editor at The Malaysian Reserve.