Commentary Politics

Pakatan men disagree with Mahathir but voices on the outside

MP Chang (right) and the man whose decision he objects to.

Written by Aziz Hassan

February 16, 2019.

Recollections & Reflections – A commentary

FINALLY it’s confirmed but the decision by Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia to accept seven Umno deserters in addition to an earlier two MPs should not surprise too many people, with hints on the doors being opened to allow them in made by Pribumi Bersatu chairman Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad himself despite his declaration soon after the May elections that such deserters would not be welcomed.

But when your party has only 13 MPs from a total of 222 in the House and yet wants to impose its control and authority on coalition partners, there is no other way than to have a decent representation in Parliament. Otherwise who would have time for you?

Two Parliamentarians within Mahathir’s Pakatan Harapan coalition have voiced their strong objections to Pribumi Bersatu’s decision, both calling it a betrayal of the people’s mandate in the May 9 general elections, with lawyer and DAP MP for Bukit Gelugor  Ramkarpal Singh describing it as completely wrong. Another Parliamentarian, PKR vice-president and Tanjung Malim MP, Chang Lih Kang, is another who objects to the move by Pribumi Bersatu. Yet another DAP politician asked Mahathir not to be a rubbish collector!!

Well and good that some amongst the second echelons in Pakatan disagree with Mahathir but the downside is these characters are not on the Pakatan presidential council and hence their voices will not be heard loud and clear.

The council will meet to discuss the crossovers but let’s be honest: if Mahathir wanted to first hear the views of his coalition colleagues he would have called for the meeting before deciding to embrace the seven. As a veteran politician and one who’s been in a top leadership for so long, surely Mahathir was aware this was the proper way.

Don’t expect the unexpected from that meeting. In the first place who among the council members will dare to object and speak against the decision of a man who’s also their boss and someone they meet at least once a week for the Cabinet meeting? They talk, he listens but ultimately even if they disagree with Pribumi Bersatu’s move, what will they do? Abandon the coalition and cause the government to collapse?

The hint of what is to come from others could be seen from remarks by Amanah leaders Mohamad Sabu and Datuk Seri Mujahid Yusof and PKR deputy president Datuk Seri Azmin Ali.

The latest development that goes against even the wishes of people friendly to Mahathir and his ruling coalition is the decision by Pribumi Bersatu to enter Sabah, a possibility strongly objected to by Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal, who recently said he expected Pribumi Bersatu to keep to its words. What we don’t know is when this understanding was reached and by whom.

But imagine the feelings in the corridors of power in Sabah right now, having heard this announcement by Mahathir who has been referring to Warisan as a party friendly to Pakatan and now declares that he sees no necessity for Pribumi Bersatu to discuss this decision with Warisan.

This is not the first and thus only instance where Mahathir has gone against the wishes and opinion of the public general.

He knew what was it was like when he stated that he was going to have a third national car project, despite the huge losses suffered by the first of them, Proton. He initially wrote about how disappointed he was that the people should object to this but eventually decided to go ahead anyway, although the numbers are hugely against such a gamble again. I remember a former colleague and motoring correspondent Yamin Vong commenting thus: “Mahathir is a stubborn man…. What Mahathir wants, Mahathir gets.”

Another recent decision is to revisit Formula 1, again despite the escalating costs and dwindling attendances over the years. But does Mahathir care? It doesn’t look like it.

Thus despite statements to the contrary after immediately holding the country’s top office a second time around, the former and real Mahathir has slowly but surely made a return and the sooner his newfound friends and believers in Pakatan and civil society realise this the better for all of us.

Almost 10 months now and has there been any real institutional reforms as loudly proclaimed pre-GE14? Simply too many unfulfilled promises or pledges to list out that it would be best for people who still believe in him to take a long hard look into themselves and decide. Many are mature and well educated and should be smart and wise enough to see the wood from the trees. The only thing Mahathir was consistent and unwavering was in his resolve to get rid of Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Umno from the government, which he has managed to do.

Didn’t know that the EC would speak up to defend the government……

From the chairman of the Election Commission Azhar Azizan Harun: “The government would surely be able to justify its activities in Semenyih and prove that they were not being carried out to fish for votes should the matter be brought to court.

“If these activities are being used to fish for votes, then it becomes an issue.”

The point is these activities need not directly be promoted as attempts to buy votes. Providing all kinds of “goodies” would indirectly tantamount to efforts to entice voters to lean towards you.




About the author


Aziz Hassan

A journalist since July 1976 with both the English and Malaya press and was with two newspaper groups before The Mole. Does corporate report-writing and translation in his free time. Currently also a contributing weekly rugby columnist for the New Straits Times.