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Why everyone must vote whether they like Mahathir or not

 | August 5, 2017

Every Malaysian must realise that if they vote for change in GE14, they can vote Pakatan Harapan out in GE15 if the party fails to perform.

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There are many people who are displeased with the “new” Mahathir Mohamad and Pakatan Harapan line-up. They have threatened not to vote in GE-14, because they claim they would be jumping from the frying-pan into the fire.

Are they justified in staying at home, or are they being irresponsible?

The former PM has been given a new lease of political life. With the opposition, Mahathir’s new line-up looks like a rag-tag team of former foes, ganging-up against an adversary, who is making his last hurrah. Is this a fair assessment, or is this a group of patriots who are giving-up everything to save the nation?

Whilst the news of Mahathir’s new opposition team may upset a lot of Umno-Baru supporters and definitely Prime Minister Najib Razak, there are many Malaysians who are displeased for other reasons.

These Malaysians say that Mahathir’s policies sowed the seeds of disunity, and they disagree with Pakatan Harapan (PH) teaming up with him.

They claim PH can win on their own, without Mahathir. They also dismiss the projection of Malay loyalty to Mahathir, and claim this may well be an overstatement.

They are also angry with the infighting in the opposition. Instead of presenting a strong united force to bring down a weak Umno-Baru, the opposition is busy trading blows with one another.

For many, the Mahathir-PH alliance is full of irony.

First. Abdul Razak Hussein, Najib’s father, saved Mahathir from the political wilderness after he was chucked out of Umno by Tunku Abdul Rahman.

Who would have thought that Abdul Razak’s son would one day be Mahathir’s pupil, and fine-tune his divisive tactics of race and religion?

Second. When Mahathir resigned as PM, many said Najib was only a seat warmer for Mahathir’s son, Mukhriz. This is now a moot point as Najib had other designs and the nation is now a battleground in which former political foes fight for the prized crown of PM.

Third. Over thirty years ago, Kedah Umno (before it became Umno-Baru) complained to Mahathir about the threat posed by a charismatic and influential ustaz, called Ibrahim “Libya” Mahmood, from PAS. The 1986 general election was approaching and Umno feared they would lose badly to PAS.

Ibrahim “Libya” refused to be held under the Internal Security Act and this resulted in the siege of Memali, when 14 PAS supporters died.

The irony is that PAS appears to have forgotten Memali, because today, Hadi Awang of PAS has aligned himself with Najib. It is as Mahathir once said, “Melayu mudah lupa”.

So, are the Malaysians who will not vote in GE14, content to do nothing? Are they happy to live with high prices, corruption, incompetent civil servants and rising racial and religious intolerance?

Do they realise that if they vote for change in GE14, they can vote PH out in GE15 if the party fails to perform?

If they do not wish Mahathir to be PM, but are happy for PH to lead the government, do they realise that they can make their feelings known to the opposition, now?

There are many capable Malaysians, who could lead, and as Deputy Prime Minister Zahid Hamidi has acknowledged, we have had non-Malay PMs before.

One human rights activist and political observer disagrees with people refraining from voting in GE14, just because they are displeased with Mahathir. He said, “Idealism is a luxury we cannot afford when the house is on fire.”

Mariam Mokhtar is an FMT columnist.

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