Anyone familiar with the current intensity levels of Malaysian politics will surely scoff whenever somebody asks the question ‘has the campaign for the general elections begun?’. A scoff that says either ‘where have you been?’ or better still, ‘seriously???’.
The state of Malaysian politics has always been at a fever high even before the turn of the new millennium when the sacking of Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim (DSAI) from both the Federal Government as well as the United Malays National Organization (UMNO) saw the political landscape experiencing a major earthquake on the political Richter scale.
Before the Anwar Ibrahim Sacking Saga, it has not been unknown to witness political parties campaigning for the next general elections even as the newly elected representatives from the just finished general elections barely got sworn in for the new Parliament.
Disguised in the form of dinners, talks (or more commonly known as ceramah), briefings on the findings of the individual parties’ post mortems etc etc etc, it has become something of a routine for the political parties especially those from the Federal Opposition.
Having acknowledged the above, the Anwar Ibrahim Sacking Saga only notched up the intensity higher with the saga signalling the beginning of the so-called REFORMASI (or REFORM) movement. Depending on with whom you talk to, many involved in the REFORMASI movement would like to say that the movement is still relevant today as it was then.
It is the norm that when you have a political-based movement that generates more than enough ground swell to overcome that initial stage of being dangerously labelled as a fad (and hence, not to be taken seriously), it will more likely than not morph into a political party, offering members of the movement a platform to realise and put their political agenda into action.
As of today, it is more than a footnote in the history of Malaysian politics that the REFORMASI movement of the late 90s led to the formation of PARTI KEADILAN RAKYAT (PKR).
It is also noteworthy that the aim of the REFORMASI movement has been, since its inception, consistent which can be described as none other than the vindication of DSAI, securing his release from incarceration and to make DSAI the next Prime Minister of Malaysia.
It has to be noted that DSAI has seen the insides of many a High Court, the Court of Appeals and the Federal Court more often than he would have liked, and has been himself incarcerated several times.
His supporters may argue that DSAI is a victim of political jealousy and intrigue and that his detentions and his run-ins with the Judiciary have all been politically motivated.
However it is to be noted that whether his detentions were legal or otherwise and politically motivated or otherwise, it has, without fail, always been made to be political. It is also to be noted , from the layman’s point of view, that from the many cases involving DSAI, we have witnessed the different workings and interpretation of the law from many a legal beagle, from all points of the spectrum, from the Bench and the Bar.
In all this ‘controversy’, the Judiciary has always been at the centre of it all, brickbats and bouquets et al. Whenever the decisions reached by the many and different learned judges goes against DSAI, the Judiciary’s ‘objectivity and neutrality’ will be criticised, never mind questioned, by the Opposition.
Of course, this also means that if a decision is in DSAI’s favour, the Judiciary’s ‘objectivity and neutrality’ is ‘reaffirmed’ and applauded.
Following the Anwar Ibrahim Sacking Saga, the re-emergence of the Democratic Action Party (or the DAP) as a political force in the 2008 and the 2013 General Elections has been met with as much opposition as well as support, depending on not only one’s political affiliation or leanings but also the religious beliefs that one identifies with as well as one’s ethnic origins.
The DAP may vehemently deny and reject all the above allegations, pointing out the multiracial and multi religious composition in their party ranks as evidence. However, as many would say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating.
The DAP’s cohabitation with PKR and PAS in the PAKATAN RAKYAT ended when the Islamic-based party PAS opposed the infamous KAJANG MOVE which saw the seat and position of Menteri Besar (or Chief Minister) of the state of Selangor changing from the then incumbent Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim to the current incumbent Dato’ Seri Azmin Ali (DSAA, incumbent PKR No. 2 or No. 3, depending on how you look at it), with DSAI (definitely PKR’s No.1) and Dato’ Seri Wan Azizah (DSWA, wife of DSAI and current PKR President) all being in the mix before DYMM The Sultan of Selangor made a decision, it must be added, to put a full stop to the KAJANG MOVE.
In the whole saga of the KAJANG MOVE, the manoeuverings and the intrigues associated to the KAJANG MOVE can be perceived as a power play between the opposing forces within PAKATAN RAKYAT and within PKR, with the husband and wife team of DSAI and DSWA being ‘manipulated’ by having their names being bandied about as potential successors to the popular then-incumbent Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim.
Who the losers and winners were, in this instance, need not be mentioned as it has been mentioned elsewhere (see Telenovela of the Year : The Never Ending Saga of the Kajang Move).
But what can be said is that the KAJANG MOVE plus the weird composition of the PAKATAN RAKYAT ( see The Strange Bedfellows : DAP, PKR and PAS) as well as the proposed introduction of Hudud, the utterings, the comings and the goings of SUPERMAN and added to that, other issues that arose along the way, it has been a hectic 20 years or so.
More than the usual, one might say.
Today, the PAKATAN RAKYAT is no more. Or so they say. (Please see A House Divided….Collapsing Soon?)
It is now PAKATAN HARAPAN. The same faces of PKR and DAP plus the new faces of PAN (the platform for PAS members who identify more with DSAI instead of their own party president, Dato’ Seri Hadi Awang) and PRIBUMI, with PAS out on their own.
PAN’s birth can be traced back to the KAJANG MOVE, when things came to a boil within the ranks of PAS with the party elections held after the KAJANG MOVE witness a political blood-letting secular-based political parties would have been proud of.
Since the formation of UMNO since 1946, the party has seen splinter groups breaking away to form their own political parties. PAS, Parti Negara, SEMANGAT 46, and PKR were the most notable ones. Now, we can add PRIBUMI to the list. Whether it will be notable or otherwise remains to be seen.
PRIBUMI’s president is currently former Deputy Prime Minister and UMNO No.2, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (TSMY) with the old man himself, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed (Tun M), as the party’s advisor. However, it remains to be seen as to who has the most say in the running of PRIBUMI ie the party president or the party advisor?
It is pretty much obvious, at the moment, that PRIBUMI is Tun M and Tun M is PRIBUMI, with TSMY and PRIBUMI’s No.2, Tun M’s son, Dato’ Seri Mukriz Mahathir, all playing supporting roles. If it can be called that.
It is a given that members of a party’s hierarchy do not always see eye-to-eye on all issues, but in general would have more in common than differences on most issues. If we can agree on that premise, then the coming together of PAKATAN HARAPAN must come as an exercise in extreme political juggling and is in itself quite mind-boggling.
It is fair to say that Tun M is seen by most political observers, professional and amateurs, as the source of ALL, if not most, of the troubles experienced by DSAI and destroying his political career in the process. What effect that has on DSAI’s family, one can only imagine.
Then you have that other old man, this one of the DAP, Lim Kit Siang (LKS), who, if going by the exchanges between LKS, DSAI and Tun M, inside and outside of Parliament, must have left observers wondering just what on earth is going on.
Add the supporting cast of PKR’s, DAP’s, PAN’s and PRIBUMI’s respective political hierarchies, the chances of drama with the mix of personalities on show are high, inter and intra parties. A rather volatile mix, it seems.
The next general elections will be held in 2018, at the latest. Til then, it is fair to say that one can expect lots of drama, plot, plot changes, shenanigans and intrigues.
It has been said that political fatigue has already set in. Wonder how it will be by the time the general elections come a calling?
Date : 2 September 2017