Let’s face the brutal realpolitik fact – PH is dead

Calvin Sankaran, Free Malaysia Today

It has been often said that adversity brings out the best in us. We have read or witnessed how some great men and women attained lasting fame by steering their countries, communities or companies out of hopeless situations and extreme dangers with their unbending will and leadership skills.

Nelson Mandela, Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King Jr, Abraham Lincoln and Mohandas K Gandhi are celebrated and considered as among the greatest humans who ever lived chiefly due to their leadership under extreme adversity.

The year 2020, despite being an annus horribilis for most of the world, accorded the golden opportunity for such great men and women to rise to the challenge and navigate the world through these turbulent and onerous times.

Unfortunately, however, this opportunity was largely spurned, In fact, it has only brought the worst out of leaders and laid bare the Naked Emperors in governments, businesses, sports and politics.

Even in a year where the leadership standard has descended to a historical nadir it must be admitted that Pakatan Harapan (PH) supremo Anwar Ibrahim has stood out head and shoulders above all others – truly a Giant in the land of Lilliputians when it comes to leadership incompetency.

From the implosion of the PH government in February to the crushing budget defeat in December, the catalogue of self-flagellations, comical own-goals and missteps of the PKR chief requires a multi-volume book series to chronicle.

Despite being forewarned by wiser political analysts and allies, he put blind faith on Dr Mahathir Mohamad to honour his promise on prime ministerial succession.

And despite Mahathir’s Machiavellian attempts to weaken and divide PKR, delaying tactics and evasion on the handover date, like a fool Anwar continued to have full trust in the notorious nonagenarian PM – right until the moment the PH government collapsed.

Then after months of mysterious radio silence, he emerged out of his cave and dramatically declared that he had “strong, formidable and convincing majority” support among the MPs to form the next government.

That this was right in the middle of a raging Covid-19 pandemic crisis and in total defiance of the King’s directive to politicians not to create political instability, didn’t seem to concern him.

His much-hyped audience with the King lasted a mere 25 minutes before being shown the door.

In the subsequent press conference, he claimed to have unequivocally proven to the King that he possessed a clear parliamentary majority to form the next government.

It turned out to be yet another own goal – as unknown to him the Istana Negara by then had already released a statement, saying Anwar merely claimed to have the majority support without substantiating it.

Further, it emerged later that in getting the required support, Anwar had betrayed his own principles as well his allies within PH by trying to build an alliance with a group of disgraced Umno MPs who were embroiled in numerous corruption cases.

All the while he had also kept his political allies in the dark of his plans and backroom deals.

Predictably the whole tragicomic drama soon fell apart and to say he emerged out of this affair looking foolish would be a very charitable observation.

Rejecting 2021 Budget

The stink from this sorry episode barely dissipated when the PM-in-waiting emerged with another equally hare-brained scheme.

He heroically declared that he planned to topple the ruling government by rejecting the 2021 Budget scheduled to be presented in the November parliamentary session.

Predictably despite the sheer stupidity and improbability of the plan, Anwar’s regime change move sent PH supporters into a rapture.

This resulted in much hype being built up on social media and some local news outlets in the lead up to the parliamentary session.

The result was yet another total and utter humiliation of Olympian proportion.

By the time Anwar realised that he was skillfully played out by his political opponents within the ruling government to extract better concessions from the PM, the game was over.

If a football team loses 0-29 to their closest rival in the most important match of the season after confidently promising a convincing victory, one can expect the team manager to be booted out unceremoniously with the players finding themselves out of a job soon after.

It is unlikely that the team manager or players will ever find another job in football and would have to move on to less glamorous careers as gig workers or burger flippers.

Alas Anwar Ibrahim is no Abraham Lincoln. To begin with, it was a move of staggering idiocy and a monumental mistake.

Rebuilding bruised coalition

Due to in-fighting and tensions within the ruling coalition (Perikatan Nasional), the next general election (GE15) is likely to be held in the first quarter of 2021.

Anwar and PH parties are better off rebuilding their shattered and bruised coalition in preparation for GE15 rather than trying to hijack the government in the middle of a raging pandemic.

Why rush to form a new government via the backdoor and unethical machinations when they can wait for another few months to form a democratically-elected government?

Even if the attempt had succeeded, it would have been hard to form a stable government under such circumstances. Much valuable time would have been lost in forming a new cabinet and in bringing the new ministers on-board with their portfolios.

In the meantime, the pandemic would have spun out of control killing thousands while the stock market and economy would have tanked by the fleeing investors due to political instability and infighting.

It is also almost certain that the government would spend much of their time and energy fending off ceaseless attacks from their political opponents out to regain power.

Anwar has proven time and again to be an incompetent leader at the party and coalition levels and as such it is unlikely that he could ever succeed as the prime minister of Malaysia.

His own party PKR is a byword for political chaos and disunity. Azmin Ali is often blamed by PH and PKR supporters for causing the split in PKR and the subsequent fall of the PH government. But the truth is very different.

While he might not win too many awards in popularity contests among Malaysians but the way he was treated by Anwar after his years of unswerving loyalty to the ex-DPM and the party was a case of ingratitude at its very worst.

In 2018, with the full support (and likely at the instigation) of Anwar, several PKR leaders carried out perhaps the most shameful political campaign ever in the nation’s history to prevent Azmin from becoming the party’s deputy president.

No dirty tactics or underhand methods were spared while the party election committee simply stood watching, allowing the blatant shenanigans to take place unobstructed.

In the end, and against all odds, Azmin won but the schism between the No 1 and No 2 leaders in the party became permanent which ultimately led to the collapse of the PH government.

Faustian deal

However, it would be wrong to point fingers at Anwar alone. The other PH leaders hardly came out of 2020 smelling like roses either.

I have written about Mahathir many times in the past, including one titled “Pakatan’s Regression to Mahathirism”, in which I had argued strongly against PH striking a Faustian deal with the arch-villain of Malaysian politics.

As such I will refrain myself from repeating PM7’s destructive boot marks on the country’s democracy, economy, race relations and politics.

Let’s move on to DAP. They are unrecognisable from the party that had produced such fearless and uncompromising lions of democracy, such as Karpal Singh and P Patto.

The party has morphed from the tigerish vanguard of democratic principles to a fat, spoilt Chihuahua addicted to the life of luxury and power.

During their 22 months in power, none of the DAP senior leaders acted or spoke with their conscience. They instead abandoned their very principles and the constituents they had fought for decades – sacrificing them in order to hang on to their newly-acquired riches and positions in the government.

Even after the collapse of the PH government in the aftermath of the Sheraton Move, they still kept supporting Mahathir as their choice for the PM position, despite him being the root cause of all the nation’s ills and problems.

While Anwar was cavorting with the Umno MPs, DAP’s elite again kept their elegant silence, no doubt secretly praying this will enable them to regain the lost monetary benefits and government posts.

Only now, long after the horses have bolted, are Lim Kit Siang, Lim Guan Eng and other DAP leaders issuing statements preaching about “principles”, “reset”, “new leadership” and the immorality of courting “kleptocrats”.

Let’s face the brutal realpolitik fact – PH is dead – that they will be soundly thrashed by PN in GE15 is a foregone conclusion. They will lose most if not all of the gains achieved in GE14.

We can expect Amanah to be completely obliterated while many of the PKR leaders will lose their seats with the parties themselves reduced to political zombies.

The fact is PH is sleeping walking to a political bloodbath and eventual irrelevance. If this happens, it would mean democratic disaster for the country.

PH needs to wake up to the fact that playing by the rules set by PN can only lead to one outcome, their annihilation. What they need is not just a reset but nothing less than a creative destruction.

Forget about ethnic and regional political tactics. Start anew, form a new partnership with progressive-minded individuals irrespective of their political background.

There are many capable and clean leaders within PN who are uncomfortable with the direction of their parties.

Form a completely new platform to unite all these leaders and offer Malaysia a new hope and direction, free from the current narrow ethnic and regional template and shackles of the past.

Kit Siang often talks about saving Malaysia. What we need now is to save Malaysia from ancient dinosaurs like Kit Siang who have failed us time and time again.

Give us a new generation of young, capable and progressive leaders who can appeal to all Malaysians. They might stumble and fall but I am sure they will learn from these mistakes, rise up and lead us to a better and brighter future.

Long Live Malaysia!