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Sunday, December 1, 2019

New Malaysia: If you build it, people will come



We need an assembly, not for cleverness, but for setting things straight.
- William Golding, 'Lord of the Flies'
Liew Chin Tong’s article about the long road to coalition building, while well-intentioned, distracts from the problems facing Pakatan Harapan today. Liew (above), as a young Malaysian leader, should instead focus on the main issue facing Harapan, which is a trust deficit.
For instance, Liew says this: "Despite such a reality, many of us are still susceptible to ethnic firestorms manufactured by racial champions of the social media, as well as some media that are still friendly to the previous regime."

Look, Harapan partisans are not pissed off by the manufactured outrages of fascist political operatives, but rather by the backtracking and supine nature of the DAP, specifically, and PKR. Can Chin Tong really defend anything the prime minister has said or done when it comes to consensus building in Harapan?
That’s the problem right there. Coalition building is one thing. Political parties always make deals with one another, and ideology be damned. Consensus building is the more important facet of any diverse coalition. Without consensus – and I do not mean the mutual desire of holding on to power – there is nothing which sustains the coalition or its diverse base.
Why talk about the middle path? What does this mean anyway? What exactly does “moderation” mean? Most Malaysians, especially non-Malays and non-Muslims, define it as the middle ground between the religious and racial politics of the majority and the “rights” of minority communities. Moderation has nothing to do with secular governance, nor does it have anything to do with egalitarian policy. Most of the time, it is political rhetoric.
The problem Chin Tong makes is saying that Harapan/DAP are pursuing the middle path because “the alternative is chaos and even bloodshed via extremist/exclusive politics”.
This is bollocks. The middle path is Mujahid Rawa’s idea of “give and take” when it comes to national unity. The middle path is the morally and intellectually bankrupt “social contract”. The reality is that the alternative is not chaos, but rather secular and egalitarian values which would benefit all Malaysians.
The problem is that the fascist state does not want these ideas. The tragedy is that Harapan also includes elements which have no interest in these ideas. You know why Umno and BN Youth chief, Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki (above) are worried about the DAP? Does anyone understand why Asyraf constantly attacks the DAP, claiming they “fooled” the Chinese community? That the DAP despises Islam? That the DAP attacks the monarchy?
It is all a deflection. He is worried that the egalitarian ideas of the DAP, the secular imperatives of the DAP would find a home in mainstream Malay politics. He is worried that young Malays would find these ideas attractive, especially when they realise that they have been handicapped by a system that claims to grant them privileges based on race and religion and they observe how an unshackled non-Malay polity thrives.
Why do you think that Malay political hegemons fund all these religious schools? They fund all these establishments because of their indoctrination value. When the Penang state government raised the funding for religious establishments, I was pissed off. The DAP could have nurtured an eco-system where young Malays are given free extra education in English and other skills, instead of disbursing extra funds to religious establishments. They could have presented this as a "Malay" only policy and it would benefit all Malaysians in the long term.
The problem is that the DAP, by virtue of being the most vocal about egalitarian ideas, is discovering that being part of the federal government and sharing power with Malay potentates, especially former Umno rebels, is extremely difficult. If we are to judge the DAP by the standards the DAP judged the MCA, the DAP would fail miserably.
The propaganda that Mahathir is solely the problem is wrecking havoc on the base. While the prime minister is doing things his way, the fact is that the DAP is standing by and making all sorts of justifications for playing along with the emperor. People say that Bersatu is a problem, and once the old maverick leaves, everything will be copacetic. This is naive. While I think that Anwar Ibrahim should have his shot at the top job, we have no idea if he will play well with others.
Nobody, certainly not in the DAP, wants to be seen as going against the old maverick, even though his policies and rhetoric are getting out of hand. While the Indian component of the DAP leadership occasionally takes shots against the prime minister, everyone else is looking the other way.
Before the election, whenever I spoke to DAP politicos about how they would handle the old maverick, I got these standard answers. The first that Mahathir (above) had changed and wanted to reform the country, and the second that there was a mechanism in place to limit the power of the PM.
Both have proven to be non-existent when it comes to curtailing the excesses of the prime minister. Instead what we witnessed is the whittling away of whatever chutzpah the DAP displayed, and the sub-narrative that all will be fine when the PM transitions power.
While I am impressed with the DAP’s party discipline, some would consider such discipline fascist in nature, but at least the DAP has got that going for them. It would worse if the infighting in DAP flowed into the press, like what is happening with PKR.
As a young leader who obviously has a grasp on the history of DAP’s rise to federal power, I would hope that folks like Chin Tong understand the lessons from the past, instead of rationalising past mistakes because it is a self-defeating strategy.
If Harapan sincerely wants to build a New Malaysia, the people will come.

S THAYAPARAN is Commander (Rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy. A retired barrister-at-law, he is one of the founding members of Persatuan Patriot Kebangsaan. - Mkini

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