PPBM has been an utter disappointment

Fazrul Muhammad, FMT

When PPBM was formed nearly three years ago, many expected that the party would serve as the perfect vehicle for reform-minded politicians to drive the changes needed to push Umno out of power.

While politics along the lines of ethnicity is not everyone’s cup of tea, many Malaysians were willing to compromise on the inclusion of PPBM in Pakatan Harapan, on the basis that it comprised individuals untainted by Umno.

PPBM’s capo regime, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, also proved to be instrumental in garnering the vitally-needed support from the Malay hinterland.

PPBM came into power on the shoulders of PKR and the DAP. Over several months, however, the party had managed to bolster itself with party-hoppers from Umno, as well as several ministerial portfolios.

Aside from the khat-tastrophic performance of PPBM ministers, or lack thereof, many among us started to notice something, familiar lines and patterns emerging again.

Not more than two weeks ago, news surfaced about the appointment by the Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, of 13 members of PPBM’s youth wing, Armada, as state-level officials of the ministry.

Despite positioning himself as the torchbearer of mature politics, it seems that even Syed Saddiq is not entirely devoid of the old Umno DNA.

More importantly, Syed Saddiq mirrors PPBM’s very existence: as merely a re-packaging of the old.

Going down a few levels, we see similar signs of hubris among PPBM’s grassroots.

Recently, A Kadir Jasin, the staunch mouthpiece of Mahathir himself, wrote about how PPBM members in Johor should choose their leaders based on loyalty to the country and to PPBM’s central command, and not by loyalty to the state.

Social media was also abuzz recently with an alleged phone call by PPBM Johor’s chairman Mazlan Bujang, who is also the Puteri Wangsa assemblyman, ordering a public official to do his bidding with regards to status of businesses sealed by the state government in Pasir Gudang.

The Osman Sapian debacle that happened not long ago, where PPBM and the Johor palace crossed swords over who should be the next menteri besar, opened up many windows for us to have a peek into this party.

Within Johor itself, the heartland of Malay politics, PPBM hold less than 10 seats in the state assembly. For its members to exhibit such pomposity, with no regard to the local political landscape and the Istana, should remind us of the potential monster we have in our midst.

PPBM has repeatedly challenged everyone, from royal families to ordinary Malaysians, when it comes to the way they do things and handle themselves. With Mahathir at its helm, it reeks of the same conceitedness we witnessed during Umno’s golden days, with one exception: it is not nearly as effective and smart as Umno.

Coming in as a potential replacement to Umno, PPBM, unfortunately, did not manage to attract the former’s best and brightest into its folds. From some of its members to the many party hoppers within PPBM, we only see arrogant politicians who defected from the status quo when the tide turned.

With many important ministerial portfolios, from education to entrepreneurship, handed to them, it is unsurprising that we have engineering graduates turned full-time food deliveryman.

On a more personal note, as a Malay voter myself, PPBM has been an utter disappointment. Here was the chance for its party members to reform a vital part of the Malay identity, but unfortunately, political survival takes higher precedence over the issue of modernising the Malays.

It is high time for this party to realise the thin ice they are treading. It is also high time for us Malaysians to look at PPBM for what it really is: a poor imitation of Umno.