Strange bedfellows: Mahathir & Hadi

It is often said that in politics there are no permanent friends or enemies. Again and again our politicians are proving this adage right.

A. Kathirasen, Free Malaysia Today

Shifting political alliances and friendships only go to prove that political expediency and the thirst for power triumph over ideals and ideologies.

It is often said that in politics there are no permanent friends or enemies. Again and again our politicians are proving this adage right.

The latest to do so is none other than former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who, I must say, is becoming quite an expert at it. He is cozying up to his one-time bitter enemy PAS in his attempt to dislodge Anwar Ibrahim as prime minister under his stated aim of promoting Malay unity.

But first, let me state clearly that he – just like you and I – has every right to befriend anyone and to change his views whenever he deems fit.

There was a time when Anwar was Mahathir’s close buddy. Then, from 1998, Anwar became his arch enemy. Then they became friends again because Mahathir wanted to achieve his goal of dislodging the then prime minister Najib Razak.

There was a time when DAP was Mahathir’s biggest enemy. Then they became friends in 2018 because he wanted to achieve his goal of becoming prime minister again.

There was a time when PAS was his nemesis. Now, it seems they have become friends because he wants to get rid of the Anwar administration so that a “Malay administration” can rule.

It seems that Mahathir has different criteria for a government to be classified as a Malay-majority government.

Perhaps former Umno MP Tawfik Ismail gave the best reply to Mahathir when he said on May 5: “Malay dominance has never been under threat because the number of Malays in power is more than proportionate to its population.”

Tawfik said it was ironic that Mahathir was cozying up to PAS leaders when he had been “very negative” about the party’s Islamic credentials. That was putting it mildly. As recently as Sept 16 last year, the Parti Pejuang Tanah Air chairman was reported as labelling PAS “kafir” for teaming up with Umno and non-Islamic parties to be in power.

Mahathir said PAS had previously levelled all manner of accusations against Umno and even labelled it a “kafir” party but that it was then (at that time) working with the same “kafir” party. He said based on PAS’ own definition of “kafir”, it had become “kafir” by working with “kafirs”.

In November, he claimed Islam would be abused if PAS were to form the federal government and lead the country, adding that the party was already abusing the religion with the power it had.

“I think we will face a lot of problems if they win because there are extremists among them,” the man who was prime minister during two different periods concluded.

Mahathir has never agreed with PAS’s vision of an Islamic state although he himself declared Malaysia a “negara Islam or Muslim nation in 2001. If I were to simplify it, he stands for the spirit of Islam while PAS stresses the letter of Islam. He is practical and modern in a way that PAS is not.

Recently, on Apr 28 to be precise, Mahathir said Malaysians should not fear the “green wave” of increasing voter support for the Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition of which PAS is the strongest member.

He said Malaysians should not fear being governed by a Malay-majority government as for over 60 years there had been rapid development under such a government and that non-Malays had benefitted from it too.

The insinuation, the unsaid remark, which is more important, is that the Anwar administration is not a Malay-controlled government. Really?

“Don’t try to scare them with Malay rule by painting them green,” he tweeted in Malay on April 28. Mahathir would do well to reflect on his actions and statements to see if he himself is guilty of scaring Malaysians, especially the Malays.

On May 3, FMT reported that PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang and several leaders of the Islamic party had signed the “Malay Proclamation” being promoted by Mahathir.

According to the report Abu Bakar Yahya, an aide to Mahathir, posted a picture on Facebook of Hadi signing the document to signify his support for the former prime minister’s call to the Malays to unite and “save” the community.

“Several top PAS leaders led by Hadi have expressed their support for the proclamation (by signing the document) in Mahathir’s presence,” Bakar was quoted as saying in an accompanying post.

There was a time when PAS leaders continuously castigated Mahathir. PAS president Hadi even told voters in May 2018 that they would be placing the nation in jeopardy if they were to vote for, and enable, Mahathir to win and lead the country again.

Also in May 2018, during the general election campaign, Hadi asked voters: “Why choose Mahathir as prime minister when he had already ruled for 22 years and was the cause of a lot of grief for the people?”

Earlier, in April 2018, Hadi had accused Mahathir of bullying PAS during his previous 22-year-term as prime minister.

Now, Hadi and PAS leaders are friendly with him.

But it is not just about PAS and Mahathir. Their coming together is but the latest manifestation of political power play.

Let’s not forget that Umno and DAP which were inveterate political foes at one time are now partners in Anwar’s administration. I believe the vitriol of those exchanges still rankles many members of both parties.

Umno and PKR, which at one time went vehemently for each other’s throat, now smilingly share the same platform and give the appearance of working well together, at least at the leadership level.

As I said earlier, all this only goes to prove that there are no permanent friends or enemies in politics. It also vividly demonstrates, again, that political expediency and the thirst for power triumph over ideals and ideologies.

Also, this proves, yet again, that politics makes strange bedfellows.

But don’t, for one minute, think that they are seriously talking about how to improve your life and the lives of fellow citizens as they lounge in their luxurious beds.