The ongoing tragedy of Pakatan Harapan: 365+51
It has been a sordid few weeks for Pakatan Harapan and Malaysia – the embarrassing father mother hardware software speech by Defence Minister Mat Sabu at the Shangri-La dialogue, the unilateral appointment of Latheefa Koya into the MACC by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the continued battle between Tun M and Anwar, Mat Sabu’s tantrum against Malaysia Airlines and last but not least the Azmin Ali gay sex video scandal.
Every new week seems to be a new low for this new government.
It is unfortunate then that these issues continue to dominate our headlines that in the face of real tragedies that have affected everyday Malaysians.
In the same week that the Azmin sex scandal first broke out, tragedy struck at an Orang Asli community in Kuala Koh, Gua Musang, Kelantan – where they lost 15 members to an initially mysterious illness. While it was later discovered to be measles, news of the incident took a back seat to the sleazy coverage of Azmin Ali’s trysts with a junior aide from his party.
On Monday (24 June 2019), it was revealed that the vibrant community of Pasir Gudang was once again beset by tragedy where 104 schoolchildren fell ill to air pollution. This is only months after toxic waste was illegally dumped in a local river, causing 4,000 people to fall ill and more than 100 schools to close in March.
The government was quick to say that the two incidents are unrelated, brushing away rumours that it was caused by incompetency on part of the contractors hired by the government to clean Sungai Kim Kim in March.
For the people living in Pasir Gudang, having to experience this twice in the span of three months is adding insult to injury. According to media reports, many parents have grown frustrated with the lack of follow up by the authorities in preventing such incidents.
Instead, they once again are forced to rush their children to hospitals and deal with this disruption – where over 400 schools in Johor have been forced to close down.
Given the rapid rate that these scandals emerge into the public sphere, it is almost as if they are used to distract from clear issues that the government should be focusing on.
But the reality is that it is less of an issue of sinister intent on part of a newly elected and vengeful government, but one that lacks unity, focus – and I dare, say even competency.
Let’s take a look at where Malaysia is today.
With a lacklustre economy and higher cost of living, the government should be devoting their energy to enable more Malaysians to earn a comfortable life for them and their families.
This call for action was echoed by the esteemed Prof Dr Jomo Kwame Sundaram – as these potentially desperate times will demand for Malaysians to set aside political differences in dealing with issues arising from the larger global economy that will inevitably affect everyday citizens.
Instead we are left with a government that is far more interested in politicking and serving their own personal vendettas rather than fulfilling their manifesto.
The honeymoon period is over, and what we are seeing is a government that seems to be actively seeking to lower the bar on how to act when in power.
Pakatan Harapan has continued to play on the narrative that the previous administration has left the country in severe financial straits and that is why their manifesto promises cannot be fulfilled. Yet given the continued presence of mega-projects, such as the ERCL and the LRT4, one can’t help but notice the severe disconnect.
Of concern, a year after GE14, there is no doubt that there has bern a fundamental shift in the relationship between the political parties that comprise Pakatan Harapan.
Tun Mahathir is attempting to enforce his “divide and rule” strategy to further consolidate his leadership, but those same moves have eroded mutual trust among the component parties.
However, taking a look at the individual performances of his cabinet – it seems as if he has no other alternative than to revert to his true nature, driving home what many feared during his re-election – the return of the iron fist.
Judging from the spotty track record of the Pakatan Harapan administration, perhaps we should count our blessings that we still have Tun Mahathir as the glue that holds the coalition together.
But as many have seen in these past few months, even Mahathir’s iron fist has its limits. The election on 2018 not only brought in a new government, but it also brought with it a demand for greater expectations and demands from voters.
Looking at the rate that this administration is going, it seems that almost every unfulfilled promise in the Pakatan Harapan manifesto will remain just that, unfulfilled.
Where is the rise in the minimum wage? Where is the fairer PTPTN repayment scheme? Where are the social safety nets? What about the 1 million jobs promised for the youth?
There are rumors that the year will end with either a vote of no-confidence against Mahathir or a snap election.
Pakatan Harapan better hope that they don’t end up in the latter.