Commentary Politics

Politics of recycling

zaid-ibrahim-mahathir-pakatan-harapan-1

Written by Aziz Hassan

May 15, 2017

Recollections & Reflections – A weekly column

MALAYSIAN politics never fails to fascinate and as the expectations go up a few notches that the 14th general election will be held this year, some months before the mandatory deadline of next year, bystanders continue to be fed with more titillating bits and pieces.

It is also said that in politics there are no permanent friends or enemies but look around you and you will have a tough time trying to find something in the region that remotely resembles the Malaysian political environment. Certainly not in the west.

People switching parties not once but three or four times, sworn enemies embracing each other while conveniently forgetting that it was only a few years ago that they had knives and machetes pointing in each other’s direction. And we haven’t even touched on the statements made against each other, the name-calling, the disgust.

Many know that former minister and political journeyman Datuk Zaid Ibrahim was never a big fan of former prime minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad even when Zaid was in the same ruling party Umno. This became more apparent when Zaid was a minister under Mahathir’s successor Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, especially regarding the judicial crisis and his lobby for the government to compensate the judges who were dismissed after due legal process.

But as it would turn out, Zaid and Mahathir are now firm political chums, seen on the same stage, at protest sites and at walkabouts.

Zaid’s latest initiative is to suggest that the opposition Pakatan Harapan go on a campaign trail that places the 91-year-old Mahathir as the PM-designate versus incumbent Datuk Seri Naji Razak if the opposition is to stand a chance of ousting Najib and Umno in GE14.

So far there’s no media report on the reaction of those in the opposition coalition to Zaid’s suggestion, which should indicate that no one is keen on it.

Maybe Zaid should have gone a step further, to offer a bonus.

Include Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, the jailed de facto opposition leader and former Mahathir No. 2 in the government and party, as his next DPM and maybe some will sit up and take notice all over again.

The Mahathir-Anwar team. Why not?

After all the opposition has been saying that if it ever takes control of the federal government, its immediate step would be to recommend to the king to pardon Anwar. That will pave the way for his fast-track return to political office.

How can you not be excited over this prospect because there is a possibility that these two leaders may eventually try to unseat the other due to their fundamental differences?

History after all is known to repeat itself.

But what many people don’t realise is that a man carries with him different personalities, different mindsets.

Mahathir the lay-person is not the same as Mahathir the staunch critic of his successors in office. And Mahathir the lay-person is definitely not the same as Mahathir the PM who will do all he can, use all the instruments available to him to ensure that his office is shielded so that no can oust him from power.

Change or go out of business

There was a letter recently in the Star suggesting that the ERL service from KL Sentral to KLIA/klia 2 reduce its fares now that there is competition from e-hailing services like Uber and Grab.

This lady wrote about how it cost her and her husband RM15 for an Uber ride from their home to KL Sentral and then a further RM110 for two to the airport.

A taxi ride from the house to the airport would have cost them less than RM80.

Feedback from the e-hailing drivers confirms this to be true.

The standard taxi service is another that will eventually go out of business unless cabbies accept the fact that their service is no longer viable because it cannot compete with the fares of the e-hailing services.

Thus the recent government move to issue more owner-driver taxi permits with a grant of RM5,000 thrown in to help then with the star-up may have come a bit too late, unless of course these cabbies can devise a competitive fare structure instead of using the one approved by the government for taxis.

Here’s a simple example: A late night e-hailing ride from the Kuala Lumpur suburb of Taman Danau Desa to somewhere on Jalan Sultan Ismail under normal traffic conditions would cost you about RM11, with Uber usually being cheaper than Grab by about RM2 or RM3. There’s no midnight 50 per cent surcharge.

If you call a taxi for the same ride for a distance of about 11 kilometres it would cost you RM16+. With the midnight surcharge that’ll be close to RM25.

On top of that the two e-hailing services occasionally offer promotional discounts for four or five days for certain rides.

No way the conventional taxi service can match this.

Thus the only option left is for them to dump their leased taxis and sign up to be a driver for Uber or Grab. That’s the only way forward.

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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.