Confusing love for political lust

By refusing to pull out immediately from government and all its benefits, Umno is effectively continuing to enjoy all the marital benefits from the Perikatan Nasional marriage – not only without having any of the marital responsibilities, but also while openly declaring war on Bersatu.

Nathaniel Tan, The Star

IN a weekend full of quotable quotes coming from the Umno general assembly, the quote that stuck most in my mind came from PAS secretary-general Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan: “I may have lost someone who didn’t love me, but you lost someone who truly loved you.”

I think these words are ultimately best remembered as the funniest quote of the weekend, and a brilliant epitome of self-delusion that seems endemic among our politicians today.

Since Takiyuddin seems keen on a love analogy, let’s build on it. We’ll start with a romantic walk down memory lane.

If we really want to start at the beginning, the right analogy to start with is how some organisms reproduce asexually.

Upon Googling, I found a term concerning asexual reproduction that I vaguely recognise from my schooldays: mitosis, where a cell divides itself in order to form two identical cells.

So, it is something of a historical fact that the parent cell is Umno.

PAS split away from Umno in 1951.

Umno … split from itself in 1988, forming Umno Baru.

Parti Keadilan Nasional split from Umno around 1998. PKR was formed through the “marriage” of PKN and Parti Rakyat Malaysia (though it is hard to say whether this was a marriage of equals where both partners had equal influence in the marriage).

PAS itself produced another “child” via internal split, in the form of Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) in 2015.

Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu), meanwhile, was formed by splitting from Umno in 2016.

So the first part of this “love story” is how one parent cell appears to have “given birth” to many splinter cells.

PAS was married to Umno from 1974-1978. One of PAS’ greatest leaders ever, Allahyarham Tok Guru Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, famously had a “never again” stance with regard to Umno from that moment until his passing.

This reminds me of the advice to never go back to your ex.

After the 2008 general election, a new love story was formed in the three-way marriage of PKR, DAP and PAS called Pakatan Rakyat.

This coalition had the makings of a truly new model for Malaysia, because of the way it brought together the separate ends of Peninsular Malaysia’s racial divide.

The marriage was not to last, however. Soon after failing to form the government in the 2013 election, component parties grew impatient for the marriage to bear fruit.

The Kajang Move was the final straw, when it drove a wedge between PKR and PAS that has never been rebuilt.

The next marriage was among PKR, DAP, Amanah and Bersatu, one which famously resulted in Pakatan Harapan 1.0 and Malaysia’s first-ever new government in 2018.

In 2019, Umno and PAS got together and formed Muafakat Nasional.

The blue-eyed child of Malaysia’s first non-Barisan Nasional government was not enough to keep the Pakatan Harapan 1.0 marriage together.

In 2020, it all fell apart with the Sheraton Move, with Bersatu leaving to form a new government with support from Umno, defectors from Pakatan Harapan, and parties from Sabah and Sarawak.

Eventually, Bersatu married PAS, and formed Perikatan Nasional.

PAS wanted its other spouse Umno to join this marriage as well, but Umno appeared to be a more jealous type, and was perhaps a little too competitive to be comfortable in this new three-way marriage with such similar partners.

This of course did not stop Umno from enjoying the benefits of the informal Perikatan Nasional three-way relationship, gaining many key cabinet positions, which it holds until today.

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