Transition The Otais Could Be Repeating Past Mistakes
A Kadir Jasin بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيمِ
PREAMBLE: Views expressed herein are entirely mine. I am writing in my personal capacity as a blogger. It has nothing to do with whatever position I may hold.
Briefing the foreign diplomats on current issuesUNDERSTANDABLY, after having lived next door to Alice for almost 62 years, many felt a sense of disquiet when she left or, to be brutal about it, was booted out on May 9, 2018.
This was what I told foreign diplomats at Wisma Putra during a briefing session on the economy, politics and institutional reforms a few days ago.
But almost two years have passed. The skeletons she left hanging in her cupboards had mostly been discovered. She is facing the judge and the cleansing process is continuing.
We no longer live in fear of her dictatorial and kleptocratic ways. Freedom is flourishing, democratic boundaries are being expanded and the glass ceiling is being broken through.
The Malaysians did what they previously thought was impossible. Using the ballot boxes, they threw out the Barisan Nasional (BN).
Now we are institutionalizing these changes so that the monsters we banished to the dreadful “Laut Khalzum” (the Sea of Khalzum) would never be able to make a comeback.
We effected the change of government in less than one day. We voted starting at 8am and by late evening it was clear that the BN had been defeated. Not a drop of blood was shed.
But rehabilitating the systems and institutions wrecked by the Kleptocratic BN government would take longer.
This is where a combination of altruism, wisdom and knowledge is needed.
Many of the things the PH is doing today is not to its own advantage. The freedom it gives the people is being used by irresponsible elements in the society to spread hatred and fake news.
To stop freedom from being perverted, the government must come down hard on the spread of fake news and communal hatreds in the social media.
Now some people are threatening to take to the street to hasten the transfer of power from the Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, to his anointed successor, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
They are the street people – the so-called “otai” of the Reformasi who are mostly from the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), a key member of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition.
These veterans first took to the street in late 1998 in support of Anwar who was sacked from the Cabinet and Umno for alleged sexual impropriety.
When Anwar was jailed for abuse of power and sodomy, the street protest morphed into a political movement known as Reformasi with the PKR as its vehicle. The court later reversed Anwar's sodomy sentence.
It succeeded in rallying the fractured oppositions but failed to unseat BN in four general elections. Lo and behold, in their fifth attempt under the leadership of their once sworn enemy, Dr Mahathir, they won.
Anwar, who received royal pardon soon after the PH victory, had said recently that he has been waiting for 20 years (to become Prime Minister) and he is not in a hurry.
But some of his “otais” apparently do not share his stand. They want him to be the numero uno by May – the second anniversary of the PH victory.
Perils of Forgetting History
History is always a good guide. It may be useful to re-screen the drama of 1997/98 plus the unseen cuts and to read the original script, beginning with the Ummi Hafilda letter of 1997.
I don’t think all the “otais” were in the gallery watching the Mahathir-Anwar drama unfolded. For most of them, their story of Brother Anwar started only at the Dataran Merdeka after he was sacked.
But history is older than that and is much more complicated than the shouts of “reformasi, refomasi, reformasi” and taking over city streets.
Dr Mahathir and Anwar know each other better than most “otais”. He did more than anybody else to make Anwar the politician that he is today.
As for changing the Prime Minister mid-term, it’s nothing new. The late Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra was forced to hand over the baton to late Tun Abdul Razak a year after winning the 1969 General Election.
Late Tun Hussein Onn handed over power to Dr Mahathir some three years into the parliamentary term.
Dr Mahathir passed the baton to Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi four years after the 1999 GE and Abdullah, in turn, handed power to Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Abdul Razak a year after winning the 2008 GE.
Even the composition of the government itself has never been as rigid as most people think. Coalition governments were formed in many states soon after the 1969 GE and the riots that followed.
This morphed into a new coalition – the Barisan Nasional – just before the 1974 GE with the participation of Pas, the Gerakan and several other states and national parties.
Hussein sacked Pas from the BN in 1977 following the crisis in Kelantan. Since then Pas had been involved in a series of unsuccessful marriages with a myriads of opposition parties. It is now collaborating with Umno in the so-called “Muafakat Nasional”.
Therefore, the talks that some Pas and Umno Members of the Dewan Rakyat are willing to support the case for Dr Mahathir to continue as Prime Minister beyond this year is worth watching.
Mahathir had repeatedly said he would keep his promise and hand over power to Anwar after the November APEC Summit which Malaysia is hosting.
So, we may see the democratic envelope being expanded and the parliamentary rights and privileges employed in determining Dr Mahathir’s term as Prime Minister and Anwar's ascent to the coveted seat.
Wallahuaklam. Thank you.
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