Friday Jottings: New brooms left in the rubbish

IT must be the ultimate insult for a popular Malaysian singer, whose remix of a classic song that was extensively used by Pakatan Harapan to ridicule kleptocrats, to witness the return of the kleptocrats in the new government.

When he prepared the song, it could be safely assumed that he felt strongly about kleptocrats and used all his creativity to come up with the song, his contribution in joining the national chorus denouncing kleptocrats.

Alas, when the PH won, the kleptocrats joined in to form a cobbled-together government and it didn’t end there – they were given top and important positions in the Cabinet.

Whether the singer felt cheated or made to look and feel stupid, only he can tell.

Unless he too had joined other PH supporters in the overbearing use of the term unity government to justify all narratives of the present government, especially when it was found reneging on promises and found wanting on principles.

Chief to it would be the position of the Deputy Prime Minister given to Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, singled out by PH and its supporters before and during the polls as the symbol of all things corrupt.

Now, PH supporters are saying that the appointment of Zahid is a necessity as only he could ensure the solid support of Umno/Barisan Nasional for Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to be the Prime Minister.

For good measures, a PH supporter’s contention that better Zahid than ending up with Bersatu’s Tan Sri Mahiaddin Md Yassin and PAS’ Tan Sri Abdul Hadi Awang, the opposing Perikatan Nasional leaders, as PM and DPM.

This contention seems to catch on with many of PH’s non-Malay supporters of as well as other Malay liberals and apologists, stemming from the fear that the Islamists, which is the single party with the greatest number of Parliamentary seats, would take over the nation’s reins.

Simply put, post-election, PH supporters are willing to embrace those from the party/coalition they declared to be most corrupt if that meant the Islamists were contained.

Those who were a tad embarrassed with the position they are now in, uses the unity government narrative to justify the new collaboration.

To them, the choice of Cabinet members and other appointments are not solely the prerogative of PM Anwar. Even the formation of the unity government is on the behest of the King.

Again, for good measures, anyone questioning the appointment of the likes of Zahid are basically questioning the King and the Royal institution and threats of sedition et al are floated as well.

But there are actually serious flaws to these arguments and justifications.

Firstly, Is it truly a unity government as the concept goes and adopted by other nations elsewhere.

By any measure, if the government has opposition, in this case the PN, then it is not a unity government but rather a post-electoral coalition.

Secondly, even if the King is the one that assents the Cabinet members, he would have acted on the advice of the PM. Again, surely Zahid’s appointment cannot be on the behest of the King.

Thirdly, if Zahid’s support for the PH Government and Anwar is to fulfil the wishes of the King, wouldn’t he would have been more circumspect of his situation and the court cases besieging him and accepting the appointment would only mean to disparage the whole cabinet and the unity government.

In fact, by accepting the appointment and using the disputed unity government narrative as a justification, it only diminished the Government and the PM in one go.

Further to that, wasn’t it Anwar himself who proudly proclaimed how principled he was when he turned down the opportunity to become PM prior to the polls because he would not compromise his ideals merely to get to the position?

Now that Anwar seems to be prepared to make the compromise, suspicions that he was without the numbers, even with the support of the kleptocrats then, could possibly be true.

In that context, Mahiaddin and his successor Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri, now looked more principled when they were able to withstand the demands of the kleptocrats when they were PM.

For that matter Mahiaddin lost his position for refusing to entertain the demands of the kleptocrats. Ismail Sabri too lost his position after succumbing to the demands of the kleptocrats for an early poll.

But the reneging and flushing of principles did not stop with the appointments of the kleptocrats.

Anwar taking up the Finance Minister portfolio is a major slap to PH’s credentials of being reform-minded.

This is especially obvious when the likes the Economic Minister Rafizi Ramli and even Anwar’s daughter Nurul Izzah, had made it almost a crusade to ensure that no PM holds the Finance Minister portfolio when they were campaigning against Datuk Seri Najib Razak of the 1MDB infamy.

Rafizi’s justification that it was to thwart infighting within the new government and that it was extraordinary circumstances that Anwar took the finance portfolio, is indeed lame if not an insult to the intelligence.

Then again, Rafizi’s reply, when questioned on his promise of “going after” the MACC chief Azam Baki if PH formed the Government, as being political sound-bytes, should allow the public to form and change their opinions about these PH personalities.

If the public is still unable to measure them up, they should watch out their Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil as his telephone manners may reveal more.

If not, it is at least, entertainingly comical. – pic Muhd Amin Naharul

Shamsul Akmar is an editor at The Malaysian Reserve.