Will Pakatan be a one-term wonder?


PH was more intent in winning over Malay support rather than retaining the non-Malay vote bank. Mahathir, however hard he might try, cannot outdo Umno and PAS in attracting the majority of Malays to his side.

Is TanjungPiai a precursor of things to come for Pakatan?

P Ramakrishnan, Former President of Aliran

There was great rejoicing everywhere on the night of Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019 following the announcement of the Tanjung Piai by-election results. Rejoicing for Barisan Nasional (BN) for their stunning victory. Rejoicing for Malaysians for Pakatan Harapan (PH)’s massive defeat!

Who are the victors in Tanjung Piai? It wasn’t any political party. It was a peoples’ victory.

It is too soon for BN to celebrate this stupendous victory. For sure, the voters did not vote for the kleptocrats – let’s be clear on this. They voted for BN not in support but in order to defeat the PH. They wanted to humiliate and teach PH a lesson – that could only be achieved by voting for BN! The BN’s presence in the by-election served their purpose to punish the PH.

The BN was not their preferred choice. It was a convenient and useful medium for frustrated voters to vent their anger and teach PH a lesson that they will NEVER forget! Imagine choosing a party which had lost all its credibility and was totally despised, demonised and defeated in GE14! It was the only – and most effective –way for Malaysians to embarrass PH completely and mercilessly. And the voters did it ruthlessly!

The defeat for PH was deliberately inflicted as a revenge for betraying the people’s trust – a trust that was given hoping for a better Malaysia by casting their lot with PH. Malaysians, therefore, have a right to expect PH to rise above race and religion and treat all Malaysians as rightful citizens of this nation. They hoped that it will be the order of things in the future following the defeat of the BN. Sadly, PH lost its way and indulged in the race-baiting and religion-courting strategy to hold on to power. Their conduct became disgraceful and despicable.

PH – or, more specifically, is it Dr Mahathir? – has forgotten that it was the solid backing of the non-Malay votes that crushed the BN and put the PH in government. Only about 25 percent of Malay support was received by the PH at GE14 – that would not have secured them the power to rule.

In spite of this obvious fact, PH was more intent in winning over Malay support rather than retaining the non-Malay vote bank. Mahathir, however hard he might try, cannot outdo Umno and PAS in attracting the majority of Malays to his side. The bulk of this Malay support will always remain with Umno and PAS. This is an irrefutable fact. Mahathir can never be the Malay warrior for the Malays.

From now onwards, PH cannot take for granted that the non-Malay support will always be with them. From now onwards, no state or seat is safe for PH. We just witnessed the impossible happening in Tanjung Piai. To spite PH, the voters cast their votes for a party that they did not love or support.

It will help PH to be mindful of this painful fact.

When Zakir Naik blatantly told the Chinese to go back to China and openly questioned the loyalty of Indians, he insulted every Chinese and Indian who are bona fide citizens of Malaysia and owe their allegiance to King and country. This insult will not be forgotten or forgiven. His presence will always remind them of this insult. Imagine a foreign fugitive from India brazenly telling that to the Chinese and Indians who have contributed so much for the development of Malaysia and its economy!

How can this be tolerated?

To his credit, Mahathir’s initial reaction was that Zakir Naik had crossed the boundary. We expected him to go after Zakir Naik and get rid of him. But Mahathir, being who he is, refused to send this fugitive back to India claiming that he won’t get a fair trial in India. Incidentally, Jho Low also claimed that he won’t get a fair trial in Malaysia. Are we prepared to accept this in all fairness?

Mahathir had conveniently forgotten – mudah lupa? – Zakir Nakir’s blatant insult to the Chinese and Indians.

To add salt to injury, Mahathir attended the Malay Dignity Congress and had the audacity to refer to the non-Malays as Orang Asing! If he has this mind-set regarding the non-Malays, how can he respect and protect their rights as citizens of Malaysia? The non-Malays were very offended by this remark. And they wanted to teach him a lesson which they did in Tanjung Piai.

Then we have this Minister of Youth and Sports who took a very strong and principled stand and demanded that Zakir Naik be banished from Malaysia. But lo and behold, the next instance, he was feasting the very guy he condemned at his house. No wonder some refer to him as the “boy minister’!

These politicians’ preoccupation is with race and religion – not justice and fairness. To retain their power and position, they play this game – right or wrong.

Take the issue of ICERD (the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination) as an example. Mahathir declared in the UN and to the world that ICERD will be ratified together with the rest of the remaining UN human rights conventions. It was a very good decision. For ICERD removes all forms of racial discrimination and policies will be implemented impartially. If this was the case, the beneficiaries would be the majority poor Malays as well as the non-Malay poor. This would have ensured that the aid would go to the deserving poor – and not to the rich cronies who grab everything for themselves.

But what happened? Because Umno and PAS riled up the Malays on the false premise that if ICERD were to be implemented, the Malays would lose their rights and privileges and would be sidelined. Whenever a massive crowd was needed to protest, all one has to do is to claim that Islam and the Malays were under threat. On this platform, a huge protest took place on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018.

What did Mahathir do? He buckled for he feared losing Malay support and called off the ICERD ratification. He was less than honest in this controversy. Having declared that Malaysia would ratify ICERD, strangely he did not stand up to defend his proposal and throw his weight to support it. Mahathir’s hypocrisy was revealed when at a gathering at the UiTM following Saturday’s Umno/PAS demonstration, he declared that he could not accept ICERD because it would disadvantage the Malays.

Of course, Malaysians remembered Mahathir’s double game at the Tanjung Piai by-election.

If Mahathir was sincere about ratifying ICERD, he should have arrested the leaders and organizers of this protest and charged them in court and force them to prove their hollow claim how the rights and privileges of the Malays would have been eroded.

Similarly, he should have gone for the leaders who roused up the Malays that the Agong’s position would be in jeopardy if the Rome Statute was accepted. They wouldn’t be able to prove their false claim in court. Instead, he aborted the recognition of the Rome Statute.

It’s not that Mahathir was not brave to tackle these leaders but he feared losing Malay support. So he bent backwards to please and appease them – to the detriment of the nation. Thus he contributed to the perception that ICERD and the Rome Statute were schemes by the non-Malays to deprive the Malays of their special position and the loss of the Agong’s sovereignty.

Whatever Mahathir does seems to be for consolidating his power and position. Malaysians were rightly upset that in order to empower his party, he has resorted to courting and recruiting Umno MPs to join his party, Bersatu.

These are the very Umno politicians who dared not speak up and question Najib regarding the 1MDB scandal when Najib was riding high as the PM. By their silence, they condoned his theft of the nation’s wealth and abuse of his position. Yet, Mahathir is actively courting them to be part of his party in order to strengthen his position.

Malaysians are upset and felt let down. They showed their anger at the Tanjung Piai by-election. From now onwards, Malaysians will not tolerate any more nonsense from these politicians. They are in no mood to let things go as in the past. They will retaliate and will not hesitate to punish any political party that does not serve the national interest. Be warned!