Muda S Old Tactic Of Hooking Up With Harapan


"Why push Mahathir to resign now when none of us agreed? Where was Syed Husin when the discussion took place? Maybe he knows more than all of us in the Harapan presidential council."
- Muar MP Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman in 2019.
It is so predictable that a Malaysian youth party supposedly on the vanguard of new politics wants to join forces with a legacy coalition. 
Don't get me wrong. I want Muda to be a success. Indeed, I want it to be more than just a youth party that middle-aged, middle-class non-Malays (mostly centred around urban polities) think is great.
I am one of those people who would roll the dice on young leaders taking over the country but this would mean they would have to reject the established system.
More importantly, they have to also reject the morally and intellectually bankrupt political strategies that have resulted in this country going down the path of a failed state.
I want Muda to be that fire from the Malay heartlands, which is a rejection of mainstream Malay politics and yes, even urban politics that for decades has defined the political discourse in this country.
Anecdotally speaking, young Malay rural youths who engage with me have nothing in common with the politics of Muda in the sense that they understand the system is harmful to them, but they cannot articulate – for various reasons – how they want the system to change.
If you look at the experiences of young political operatives around the world who have amassed power, they did it by taking political power, either from within established parties or breaking the mould and bleeding legacy parties of support.
What does Muda stand for?
In other words, they articulated what was wrong with the system, willing to slay sacred cows and take power away from the established political class.
They did this with the support of citizens who may not necessarily be from the same generation but who bought into the proposed policies of these operatives. 
What these "radicals" – for lack of a better term – did not do was attempt to latch on to existing power structures for personal gain.
Those young people who want to do that enter mainstream politics, through established parties and toe the party line.
You have a preponderance of those kinds of politicians in our political landscape and if they remain true to party ideals and balance the expectations of moving up the ladder with principled policies, this is not a bad thing.
Of course, from within the party, they sometimes stage coups, especially if the leadership is weak and abandons its principles.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. This is how legacy parties rejuvenate and remain relevant but sometimes, such coups end up destroying the base.
But who exactly does Muda stand for and what do they gain by joining Pakatan Harapan? Okay, suppose you are a young Malaysian who thinks that the system stinks and it is pointless to vote because things are not going to change. 
How exactly does a youth party which supposedly represents the possibility of change – understand that we are not talking about age but about change, possibilities and the future?
And how is teaming up with old timers who are part of the problem going to make that happen?
I get that Muda needs to establish its brand and build relationships but what exactly is their game plan here? Winning a couple of seats and then becoming part of a coalition mired in the kind of paralysis that a party like Muda is opposed to?
Pakatan Harapan’s top leadersAnd how exactly are young people from the majority community, who not only have to contend with a system that cripples them but also partisan bases that vilify them, going to coalesce around a political party which seems only interested in winning seats by latching on to the established parties? 
These people are better off voting for the establishment, right?
Yes, Muda needs to highlight issues facing young people in Malaysia but as the rise of young leaders all over the world has demonstrated, youth issues are part of larger community concerns that voters who reject old leaders want the young leaders to address.
This is an important point. In countries, districts, towns and villages all over the world, where young leaders have taken power away from the old, they did it with the support of everyone as a rejection of the old ways.
I am not talking about how Harapan is going to attract the youth vote here but rather the underlying philosophies of Muda which prides itself on being the voice of young people.
Keep in mind that young people include young parents – a huge demographic – who understand the need for stability especially when it comes to looking after large families and being constrained by racial and religious expectations.
In essence, the youth vote is not simply about young single adults at the mercy of an uncaring system.
We have a generation of young people who were brought up in mainstream oppositional discourse. There is history there but the future is built on a rejection of the old ways.
‘Cosmetic change’ won’t work
Establishment and opposition coalitions talk about fielding young candidates in the last Johor state election but what is the point if young candidates merely ape the rhetoric and policy failures of their elders?
In other words, young candidates are just cosmetic changes to age-old problems.
I could be wrong but wasn’t Muda supposed to reject this kind of politics? And I am not talking about Muda biding its time until it gets seasoned or any of that nonsense.
I am talking about real radical change which is supposed to define a youth party. If you think that radical change is not what most Malaysians want, then you really should not be running on a platform that necessitates such.
No doubt, Muda will be embraced by Harapan and if they win the seats given to them, they will just further the established political norms in this country.
And voter apathy and disenchantment will continue in a possible fractured political landscape, depending on the upcoming general election's result.
This remains the state of play. - Mkini
S THAYAPARAN is Commander (Rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy. Fīat jūstitia ruat cælum - “Let justice be done though the heavens fall.”
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of MMKtT.

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