Politics being numbers game remains increasingly less affected by the Malay vote bank, as Umno and Barisan Nasional (BN) live and fight another day, away from ethnic-based parties!
Commentary And Analysis . . . PAS spiritual leader Hashim Jasin, based on his own simplistic words about Umno, should not be worried. Yet, in contradiction in terms, he’s worried disingenously that Umno will be buried by GE16 in late 2027. Indeed, it should be good news for PAS if Umno was buried.
Hashim’s fears won’t happen as the Agong decreed after GE15 last November that SD (statutory declaration), dubious at best, was no proof of support. Parliament was the right and proper forum.
Politics being numbers game remains increasingly less affected by the Malay vote bank, as Umno and Barisan Nasional (BN) live and fight another day, away from ethnic-based parties. Umno, as it stands, has rock solid future with Pakatan Harapan (PH) and allies on the other side of the Southeast Asia Sea in Sabah and Sarawak.
Hashim carries on as if Umno should be given, on silver platter, some of the 49 parliamentary seats held by PAS after GE15 and the 25 parliamentary seats held by Bersatu, it’s ally in the increasingly moribund Perikatan Nasional (PN). It’s highly unlikely, given the power of incumbency in Putrajaya, that PAS and Bersatu can repeat their GE15 performance in late 2027.
Already, five Bersatu lawmakers have virtually become turncoats in recent days viz. Syed Abu Hussin Hafiz Syed Abdul Fasal (Bukit Gantang), Iskandar Dzulkarnain Abdul Khalid (Kuala Kangsar), Suhaili Abdul Rahman (Labuan), Azizi Abu Naim (Gua Musang) and Zahari Kechik (Jeli).
They have since declared support for the unity government. The media has reported that four lawmakers have announced, so far, that they will sit on the government side in Parliament.
Dictatorial former Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad indulging in wishful thinking and living on hope, the favourite past time for idle brains, predicts simplistically that Umno will be buried in 2016. It’s a case of sour grapes and dog in the manger.
It’s not known whether Mahathir read the tea leaves. It would have shown that, come 2027, he will probably be on the other side in nothingness where there’s no work. If Buddha read it right, during elightenment, there will be eternal bliss (Nirvana) or heaven on the other side.
Mahathir, on this side, has been all about forms of rotten politics, pitting people against each other based on xenophobia, prejudice and hate.
Both Hashim and Mahathir belabour in the delusion that Malay votes were the be all and end all of life for Umno.
In the new political scenario since GE15, Umno can fall back on support from DAP members in particular, Amanah and PKR (Parti Keadilan Rakyat) when GE16 comes.
Also, the stark reality remains that Malay have never placed the votes under one political platform ever since 2009 when the draconian Internal Security Act (ISA) was repealed. The ISA, by vanishing under Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, automatically reduced Malay votes for Umno.
In Malaysia, under the insidious caste system based on redundant Articles in the Constitution, it’s open secret that ordinary Malay for example have nothing but the proverbial shirt on the back. It was handful of party leaders in government, Malay and Others, who benefitted since Merdeka on 31 August 1957.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim himself noted, during the campaign for GE15 late last year, that “MIC leaders were all very rich but many Indian are dirt poor, even poorer than poor Malay”.
Anwar, so far, hasn’t taken any action against MIC leaders, as sworn late last year.
There’s UN Review pending this month on Najib. It may pave the way for his return just in time. The unity government could do with the former Prime Minister’s input on finance and economy, Anwar’s Achilles heel.
The imminent Cabinet reshuffle, expected before Christmas, will probably see Amanah losing the Domestic Trade Ministry left vacant in mid year by Datuk Salahuddin Ayub’s untimely death at 61 years.
That, in turn, will create musical chairs situation. MIC and MCA lawmakers may come in but probably not on party basis. Star too from Sabah may get the Cabinet post it lost when Mahathir abruptly resigned on 24 February 2020.
Anwar may form Cabinet of MP and Senators across the political divide, not parties, in line with the outgoing Agong’s decree on unity government. That spells certain death for Bersatu in particular as party and PAS. Hashim, once lawmakers are taken away from party leaders, can no longer exercise bragging rights on Umno.
Lawmakers, public perceptions aside, have probably never been about the government and people. It’s only the government who can been about the people. In law, there’s no ethnicity, religion, and political parties in Parliament, but only lawmakers pledged on serving all including those who didn’t vote for them. Umno, unlike PAS and Bersatu, no longer harps on the 3Rs i.e. “race”, religion and royalty.
Umno can gather votes by working with coalition of willing parties for casting the net wider. Umno, in the past, put all the eggs in one basket. That saw drop in the number of seats. MIC won only one seat in GE15. MCA won two seats.
No community will benefit if it lets one political party take all its votes. Only a handful of the party leaders benefit. The people, in the post-ISA era, will never leave absolute power with just one political party or coalition.
Umno’s strength comes from the BN (Barisan Nasional) concept, albeit if not observed in the breach in the decades before GE14 on 9 May 2018.
It’s true that the BN concept circumscribes the democratic process by endorsing elite power sharing and thereby circumventing the electoral process via seat-sharing. It denies the grassroots majority meaningful participation in elections. It was all about dishing out government positions under the politics of patronage and spoils of office.
There are plus points in the BN concept as decision-making was by consensus i.e. no voice against under the principle of collective responsibility. The Cabinet system was based on the same format until it degenerated under Mahathir. The Cabinet system became dictatorial between 1981 and 2003 and again from May 2018 to February 2020. Old habits die hard. The leopard, Mahathir, cannot change the spots.
Umno will be in better position in the unity government once Anwar has been freed from the clutches of other party leaders on both sides of the political divide.
The Prime Minister can go ahead with long delayed and wide-rangi reforms.
The restoration of checks and balances in government hasn’t yet begun. There’s need for due diligence, forensic accounting on the money trail from the public treasury and civil action on money laundering assets. These assets and “secret profits” can be frozen, seized and forfeited as state revenue.
There’s no proof that the Cabinet System has been restored. The Cabinet System before 1981 and during the Najib Administration (2009 to 2018) was like the BN concept. It was based on the two great principles viz. decision making by consensus and collective responsibility.
The Johor Sultan, Agong in waiting, has given his thoughts on the way forward from January next year when he ascends the throne. It’s fair warning for Anwar.
Mahathir himself merits special attention under the new Agong for various sins of commission and ommision.
The Johor Sultan, in wide-ranging interview on 23 November with the media in Singapore, cautioned that he won’t be taking up residence at the Istana in Kuala Lumpur as “puppet”.
He will speak up and speak out on matters of public concern and public interest.
“There are 222 of you in Parliament. There are over 30 million outside. I am not with you, I am with them,” he was quoted as saying in the Singapore media. “When I hit in my speech, I hit. If not, the MPs behave like monkeys.”
The Johor Sultan wants key institutions, including the judiciary, MACC and Petronas, reporting to him. In that case, controversial Chief Justice Tun Maimun Tuan Mat risks being sacked on TV.
Other Sultan are also speaking up as well.
The Johor Sultan wants the HSR (High Speed Rail) with Singapore and the virtually abandoned Forest City, both allegedly halted by Mahathir, revived.
The new Agong will also decide on who gets Awards.
Already, the traditional investiture planned for Federal Territories Day on 1 February, has been scrapped. The Johor Sultan becomes Agong on 31 January. — NMH
Longtime Borneo watcher Joe Fernandez has been writing for many years on both sides of the Southeast Asia Sea. He should not be mistaken for a namesake formerly with the Daily Express in Kota Kinabalu. JF keeps a Blog under FernzTheGreat on the nature of human relationships.