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Saturday, February 29, 2020

We should apologise for endorsing Dr M, not be an apologist for him



"Don't everyone thank me at once." 
– Han Solo (Star Wars)
Let’s just get this out of the way. I am one of those people who supports a snap election. Everyone seems to be quoting from movies, so will I. Do not be afraid of a snap election. 
As Vincent reminds us in Collateral - “Now we gotta make the best of it, improvise, adapt to the environment, Darwin, shit happens, I Ching, whatever man, we gotta roll with it.”
I have no interest in a “unity government” – whatever that means - nor do I believe that Dr Mahathir Mohamad has the ability or interests of bringing people together. 
There is not an iota of evidence, even circumstantial, that Mahathir is capable of choosing people based on “merit” as he likes to claim but, more importantly, mainstream political operatives have proven that they are an unholy bunch who couldn't organise an orgy in a brothel.
Who knows what the new day brings but if some politicians want a snap election, and they are not alone as various civil society groups have argued the same too, we should have a snap election. 
Even If PKR leader Anwar Ibrahim scraps by and gets the votes to cobble up a government, we should have a snap election because it is the only way a legitimate government – even with all the horse-trading that comes with a new government – can be formed. The same applies to Umno/PAS/Bersatu if they cobble up a government.
Worried about the far-right and agents of the fascist state coming into power? Well, this is what happens when a coalition breaks up because one man decides to screw everyone over in his coalition. This is the price we pay for compromising, enabling and justifying behaviour anathema to democratic practices all because we wanted to remove Najib Abdul Razak.
Worried about Najib coming back? Why? We have voted in kleptocrats for decades and when we had the chance for something new, the elected prime minister said that the manifesto was not worth the paper it was printed on and his erstwhile allies just buried their heads in the sand.
When someone jokes that you cannot even balik China because of the coronavirus, always remember that at least you have the option and skill set to survive outside Malaysia if you want to. Besides all this will not matter. Non-Malays are losing the demographic game anyway.
As a good PAS friend always says to me, “Thaya, one day we will be the majority and you will not have a political party to vote for. Not that you will be here. You will be by Allah’s side, Allah willing.” Gee, thanks for that.
As I write this, attorney-general Tommy Thomas (below) has resigned. Already some folks from the far-right have been texting me and hoping for an LTTE crackdown by the new AG. I tell them you can arrest as many people as you like, but when the religious fanatics start their terror campaign, at least some Indians will be locked up safely somewhere.
We have lived through corrupt, bigoted and, yes, racists AGs and we will survive. What I will not do is kowtow to the idea that Mahathir is still the best option when we are in this mess because people like me advocated for his return. 
If we are to turn into a failed state that Harapan and Mahathir blathered on about pre-election, then at least we should give the rakyat one more chance to roll the dice.
I hope everyone understands, the last general election was to be the redemption of Mahathir. This was the argument those of us used when we endorsed him - this idea that he had changed and that Najib was the existential threat facing this country.
Now there are people saying that this man can lead a unity government? Are people gullible enough to believe that Mahathir, who destroyed Harapan and who now plays of his party against his comrades for personal power, is someone who understands what unity means?
And please PKR vice-president Tian Chua, tell me again how labelling the treacherous behaviour of your comrades is exposing my insecurity? You poopyheads brought down a legitimate government and now you want us to work together to bring about a golden age of political subservience?
Has Mahathir publicly given any indication of the criteria of people who would be chosen to save this country? Has he articulated the underlying ideological framework of his unity government? 
What he understands is that the turmoil he has caused breeds fear and insecurity. He knows people want stability and will overlook his machinations because he seems a comfortable alternative to the unknown. Mahathir does not even want to commit to parts of the Harapan election manifesto, which democratises Malaysia. What does this say about his idea of “unity”?
This idea that Mahathir who either by omission or design created this mess should lead any kind of government is mendacious and people who think that a unity government will somehow “save Malaysia” are committing the same mistake - a mistake I made - when we endorsed Mahathir.
When Mariam Mokhtar, for instance, says that Sunday’s mess could have been avoided if Anwar turned Port Dickson into Dubai or some such nonsense, which is complete malarkey because if you are willing to destroy your cabinet, the government and your allies just to screw over a political opponent, this says more about you than your political opponent.
It would have been really something if Mariam had given examples of how Mahathir was steering 'HMS Malaysia' through choppy waters instead of just blaming Anwar for the machinations of the maverick in securing power for himself and his political party.
And you know something, Mariam, the reasons why the “Malays” are the way they are is because of Mahathir - who never had a problem calling Malays lazy and jealous of wealthier Malays - but at the same time, enabling their worst excesses because it suited him politically. Are you going to blame Anwar for this too?
How about if Mahathir had just committed to the Harapan reforms and did not plot and scheme as if he was a young politician with a future instead of an alleged kleptocrat and avowed strongman who was given a shot to change his record? He would have been remembered as the father of a New Malaysia instead of a traitor who rode roughshod over those who voted Harapan.
I am a critic of Anwar but if you are going to signal him for his “super liberal” and LGBT polemics, why not spread a little venom on Mahathir who has said the same or worse. And for god’s sake stop blaming the Malays as if the non-Malays have not contributed to the systemic dysfunction of this country.
Keep in mind that the non-Malays supported Mahathir for decades. Even the old maverick acknowledged that the non-Malays supported him when the Malay establishment was against him. In a way, you could make the argument that more Malays knew and rejected what Mahathir was than the majority of non-Malays who propped him up for decades and who he is relying on now to do the same.
Want to know what I think is a blessing in disguise? If Malay power has truly weaned themselves off Mahathir. If this is not some sort of shadow play and Malay hegemons are really throwing themselves behind someone else besides the person who for better or worse – more worse, I think – defined their political identity for years. I just hope that the non-Malays have the scrotal fortitude to do the same.
Not having an election in this toxic landscape could be worse. Elections have consequences. Harapan learnt that the hard way.

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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