Malaysian Politics and its intricacies

Malaysian Politics and its intricacies

SOMEONE who was in the corridors of national power recently intimated while we discussed national politics that it is time the nation moved from both Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and “prime minister-in-waiting”, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

While that summation neatly captures what animates much of the political goings-on of the moment, there is of course much more than the interplay of the two foremost party leaders within the Pakatan Harapan (PH) ruling coalition.

Without trying to put too fine a point to it, what happens within the next year or so may well be as pivotal (if not more so) as May 9, 2018. The political fate of the nation, no less, is at stake.

There is, to be sure, a considerable body of public opinion going for the reasonable argument that Malaysians voted in 2018 for a PH government which, prior to the elections, hammered out an agreement that Dr Mahathir will lead that government before subsequently handing over the reins to Anwar.

Those who voted based on such an understanding are likely to be rather disappointed if things do not turn out as agreed.

Yet, it will be churlish not to acknowledge that another body of public opinion has other ideas and, as Dr Mahathir himself acknowledged, in a democracy, political leaders ignore public opinion at their own peril. And, political dynamics have moved from what they were back in the middle of 2018.

Then, there was little argument that antipathies towards what the previous government was up to were truly national in scope. Only such breathtaking antipathies could have swept a well-entrenched coalition from power.

It might well have been that many — especially among the Malay majority — overcame some anxiety (with Dr Mahathir making the critical difference?) about overturning a nationalist political force that had the backing of that majority all these past decades to turf out an increasingly rotten and static political regime. Read More