New alliances forthcoming between desperadoes arising out of internal splits?

umar mukhtar

Umar Mukhtar


In Malaysian politics, recycling and re-branding is a common occurrence. The sad thing is they don’t really involve the fine-tuning of the parties’ stands for our benefit but mostly only the recycling of politicians adjusting to their ambitions.

Beleaguered Prime Minister Najb Razak was sitting on the same stage and wearing matching Malay bajus with Haji Hadi Awang, the president of recently splintered PAS, when Najib took the opportunity to invite PAS to be together with UMNO purportedly for the sake of Muslim unity.

Similarly, in a more personal setting, PKR deputy president, Azmin Ali honoured Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, the jailer of his boss Anwar Ibrahim, as the guest of honour at his daughter’s grand wedding reception.

His party president and Anwar’s wife, Wan Azizah Ismail, was not there at the function. But she must have okayed it. It’s not as if she had any choice. And there were also notable absentees, coincidentally, from the ‘other’ opposing camp within PKR.

Addressing Dr. Mahathir and wife as ‘Ayahanda dan Bonda’, Azmin reminisced in his speech to his invited guests that the two had also attended his own wedding 28 years ago and he remarked that “Air dicincang takkan putus”. Wow, a powerful phrase with multiple situational meanings.

The only water that the few reformists who attended were made to remember by that phrase must have been the chemically laced water from the FRU water cannons sprayed on them when demonstrating against Dr. Mahathir for jailing Anwar back in 1998. So why the move by Azmin?

All four have agendas that we should be wary of. One used an Islamic function to make a general invitation and which may or may not involve formal political alliance. The other used a private function to indirectly declare that old wounds are not continuing to fester, at least not with Azmin.

Dr. Mahathir on the other hand is quite estranged with the mainstream of his party and attending the wedding function among his old friends-turned-enemies-turned-friends was a respite from the bombardments he was getting from his own party.

PAS is in mid-stream after a number of party stalwarts left to form a new party and befriended PAS’ new foe DAP. The effect of that to PAS is still unknown, so political parachutes will come in handy.

Najib, as we know, is in deep shit. Najib and Hadi need to show how their parties have been progressing under them in spite of their parties’ setbacks that are primarily blamed on each of them.

An electoral understanding between UMNO and PAS would at least be an achievement enough for both to survive. But instead it can also backfire in their faces, sealing their fate with their parties.

How PAS members can ignore UMNO’s past misdeeds as depicted in Hadi’s numerous speeches on record would be amazing realpolitik. Similarly, can UMNO members forget being called infidels by Hadi himself?

The over-used cliche that there is no permanent enemies or friends in politics seems to be in operation. In fact, Azmin’s speeches post-1998 were full of bile for Dr. Mahathir with the usual exhortation that he is now regretting – ‘We shall never forget’.

But for people with blood ties with Anwar and those who were persecuted for their loyalty to Anwar, it won’t be so easy. And Anwar himself is again in jail, with only his proxy wife to hold the fort, Azmin is reigning supreme.

So why this move by Azmin? Simple. PKR has no room for Azmin’s ambitions. Even now, he is in a precarious position as Menteri Besar of Selangor with an Exco from two other parties that surely will scratch each other’s face come PRU14. Azmin and PKR need both parties help to retain Selangor but bridges have been burnt by all. His state government may collapse anytime.

An image of acceptability of Azmin among UMNO’s present detractors may be helpful to Azmin when political fortunes change. After all Wan Azizah is not doing anything concrete. He has to look after himself. That’s vintage Azmin. And vintage Dr. Mahathir too, as a man for all seasons.

The thing to note is that these two possible marriages have little value added impact on we the people because they are not the merging of ideas and political philosophies, but only the making up of personalities seeking some kind of refuge from reality.

Most probably they could be just shadow-plays – Azmin vis-a-vis Wan Azizah (and Anwar, sorry almost forgot) – Dr. Mahathir showing his innocence of all the charges that were made by his old enemies – Najib and Hadi working hard to show that purportedly they are not worried about the barbarians at the gates.

Or maybe they are nothing substantial but just marriages of convenience, the kind which the parties of Pakatan Rakyat got into for PRU12 & 13.

The Malays may only be seen as united outwardly by an unlikely merger of sorts between UMNO and PAS, but they all will be seen as hypocrites by accepting and tolerating the others’ hated behaviour and practice.

And it is Azmin, and not PKR, who is the one seeking new horizons and impatiently not waiting for Anwar to serve out his term in jail. And it was merely Dr. Mahathir’s pure relief that he is still in play in Malaysian politics in spite of the current rebuff by his own party.

But remember that politics is not a spectator sport, and we will act accordingly.