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Will #SaveMalaysia get a chance to set sail?

 | March 12, 2016

Or will the iron fist punch holes in the vessel even before the voyage begins?

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The characters in the team assembled under Mahathir Mohamad are so diverse in their backgrounds and perspectives that it’s hard to imagine how they could agree on anything. They stand for so much variety that we wonder if they can agree on where North is. It’s cute and funny, hopeful and sad all at once.

What on earth could possibly possess these grandpas grandmas, uncles and aunts to even attempt such a feat of bridge building? Even if they do not succeed in their stated goals, the lesson we should take from this is that whether we be rich men, poor men, beggars or kings, what unites us is our abiding love for this land we call home.

Isn’t it irony of the highest order that the sprightly old man should come closest to showing us what 1Malaysia politics can be? The young Mahathir wouldn’t even recognise the man he has become. He would have been the first to laugh at this kind of cooperation. That, it seems, is now history and he is intent, as are the others, to write a new playbook.

For those of us over the hill, Mahathir stood as the paragon of all that was mean and oppressive in an apex leader. He was all that and more long before George Bush Junior made famous the phrase “If you’re not with us, then you’re against us.”

We’ve all heard before that leopards and tigers never change their spots and stripes and that jackals and vultures are always waiting to feast on the carrion. However, we are all wiser and smarter than we have ever been. We have, with the click of a button, the wealth of the world’s information in our hands, but what we don’t have is an alternative browser that will show us our backyard for what it is. Censorship has carefully filtered away all the warts and blemishes that would be contrary to the officially sanctioned image.

How can we not notice the resemblance of this initiative to the Najib and Hadi cooperation revealed at the Al Azhar Alumni meeting last December 17? But the campaign to #SaveMalaysia is distinct from that because it doesn’t limit itself to any ethnic or religious subset but instead appeals to the largest possible group of all Malaysians who want accountability and transparency, and are against corruption and abuse at any level of government.

To many of us, such a team is welcome and long overdue, not only for the achievement of their stated immediate purpose, but also for finding inventive solutions to other issues of national importance. The rigidity of current party culture prevents any meaningful dialogue across party lines while searching for workable solutions for all Malaysians. People want leadership, not coercion.

This sudden convergence of purpose coming from people of such diverse origins is a promising sign that a national compromise and dialogue may be possible for some issues that are of urgency to the nation. It also points to a willingness to have a go at melding minds and ideas.

Still, it is hard to see a new party being formed from this cooperation. Those looking for a form-fitted Ying and Yang merger must content themselves with this loose alliance of rivals. Stranger things may yet happen as most would never have guessed that this was even possible a short while ago.

Let us first see if Mahathir’s reshuffling of the deck will deal up some new options for the rakyat and how this mishmash can change the political equation and not just stir up a political shit storm before the fever of GE14 begins.

The Citizens’ Declaration is really the first scratch in the dirt and far from detailing what the aftermath would look like except to say that bad governance will be kicked out and replaced with better. One has to have great faith not to wonder if this will chime with the people and if they will be given enough wind to billow their sails as Malaysians are notorious for being stuck in their own inertia.

Establishment voices, including the Attorney-General, are insistent that there is no evidence of any crime having been committed and that the investigations into SRC and the donation of RM2.6 billion should be closed. The opinion shapers in #SaveMalaysia, however, must be reasonably hopeful that the people are ready for big changes. For the movement to gain support, the people must be persuaded that a wrong has been committed. Are the people prepared to adapt their thinking?

Will the people be persuaded by the Tun’s eloquent logic that there can be no smoke without fire and that the smoke will be plainly visible if the obscuring filters are removed? What is left to be seen is whether the movement will gain traction or have a chance to unfurl its sails or make a dent before the iron fist grows weary of warding off the allegations of impropriety. Eyes are now on the 27th of March, when it is scheduled to hold its first big meeting. The significance will surely not be lost on Mahathir if he should find himself swaying with the tall grass when the scythe is swung this time.


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