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New Malaysia, still far from us

  • PH parties must put aside their respective calculations and continue to pursue the aspiration of a New Malaysia with the same kind of enthusiasm.

By LIM SUE GOAN
Sin Chew Daily

It seems that the New Malaysia many people have anticipated is not going to become a reality anytime soon, as Pakatan Harapan will not place too much emphasis on it for the time being.

PH component parties are both mutually cooperating and competing.

PM Tun Mahathir has attempted to strengthen his PPBM and stabilize the party's position in the PH government.

The party is currently recruiting former members from Umno, and is trying to get Kelantan's Gual Ipoh state assemblyman Bakri Mustapha to jump ship.

Before PPBM becomes any stronger, it is unlikely that the party will try to raise issues that may trigger anxiety and concern among the Malays. For instance, education minister Maszlee Malik from PPBM has issued statements to soothe the Malays over the UEC issue. As a consequence, UEC and other issues pertaining to the Malay rights will not get solved very soon, and PPBM needs time to prepare itself.

Both Umno and PAS have exploited the presumption that some 95% of Chinese Malaysian voters supported PH in the 14th general elections and that DAP is dominating the new government. As such, DAP must take into account the feelings of the Malays while Parti Amanah Negara should watch out for counter-offensives from PAS. They must therefore exercise maximum self-restraint at this moment.

PKR, meanwhile, is busy with its party elections and will therefore be distracted from its reform agenda. Having fought so hard for the past two decades, PKR finally gets to become a part of the new government, but the party is also bracing itself for the toughest party elections so far.

The incumbent deputy president Azmin Ali should by right be the heir to Anwar's political legacy, but all of a sudden Rafizi Ramli hops into the picture, repeating the history of 1993 Umno elections when Anwar and his "Wawasan" team attempted to unseat the incumbent deputy president Ghafar Baba.

Rafizi is now putting up a "Reformasi" team with an eye on PKR's Number Two post.

In 1998, Mahathir was skeptical about his heir apparent Anwar Ibrahim. And today, Anwar is showing little faith in Azmin.

Factional disputes will make it all the more difficult to put the party together again after the elections, although conflicts will remain if both sides win equal halves of party positions.

As a matter of fact, PH's reform agenda is derived mostly from PKR, not race-based PPBM. Internal split within PKR will cripple the checks and balances capability of PH parties, making a New Malaysia aspiration still out of reach.

In addition, PH doesn't want any unforeseen circumstances to pop up in the run-up to the Sungai Kandis and Balakong by-elections.

In view of this, racism and theocracy are expected to run wild for some time.

In the meantime, opposition parties have so far shown very little intention to reform themselves but have instead become even more extreme, as typified by Umno's decision to transform itself into an even more aggressive party.

Umno and PAS, meanwhile, are inching closer to each other. PAS is prepared to campaign for Umno in Sungai Kandis while the two parties simultaneously appeared at a recent rally organized by UMMAH against the recognition of UEC certificate.

Umno is constantly looking for opportunities to hit out at PH, from the finance ministry's Chinese language statement to candidate for AG, LGBT issue, UEC recognition and the allegation that Mara is going to be abolished.

With 95% of Chinese and 70% of Indians voting for PH, Umno is decisively making a right tilt in order to survive.

Najib is making himself the de facto leader of Umno, personally campaigning in Sungai Kandis to prove that he is still popular among the people. But, this tactic may easily backfire.

A religious party, PAS is now doubling up as a racist party, trying to incite the Malay sentiment. When Umno was in power, the two parties worked together to manipulate the RUU355 issue, which PAS is poised to continue exploiting in future to bag political gains. Minister in the PM's Dept in charge of religious affairs Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa, himself from Amanah, will see that PAS will not have its way.

Umno is trying to gauge the popularity of Umno-PAS cooperation among the Malays through the twin by-elections. If this produces encouraging results, it will surely expedite a formal alliance between the two parties.

Although it takes time to dissolve the venom of racism and religionism, there is no way PH should allow Umno and PAS to do whatever they want. PH parties must put aside their respective calculations and continue to pursue the aspiration of a New Malaysia with the same kind of enthusiasm so that this country will not fall back into the quagmire of hate politics.

 

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