Pakatan should avoid political lethargy from setting in

pakatan-flagBy Lim Sue Goan

The acceptance of former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad by the opposition camp has sparked an endless stream of controversies.

International financial publication, The Economist has even questioned whether Pakatan Harapan is unable to find another leader better than him.

This is a tragic development in Malaysia’s politics whereby an old generation political leader is back in the limelight and could very likely be a “transitional” prime minster.

This not only reflects the dilemma of the opposition pact but also Umno.

After GE13, senior politicians during the times of Mahathir and his successor Abdullah Ahmad Badawi were brought back to the forefront, including Azalina Othman Said and Annuar Musa.

The murky outlook of Malaysian politics has stemmed from the restrictions imposed by our political parties on the development and growth of leaders from the younger generation.

For instance, Umno has set quotas for divisional nomination for senior party positions. Only those commanding sufficient political resources can possibly get a place in the party leadership, and only the one with the support of most MPs will get to become the prime minister.

We recently saw in France a young man who had never been an elected rep nor taken part in any political election eventually become the country’s president.

Emmanuel Macron made history as the youngest president of France and he is only 39.

A largely unknown low-key politician merely three years back, Macron founded La République En Marche! in April 2016, and it took him only about a year to ascend to the top.

According to political analysts, he emulated the grassroots campaign of former US president Barack Obama in 2008, mobilising volunteers to knock at the doors of some 300,000 households in order to understand their needs.

He built himself a brand new image that promised hope for many a disenchanted Frenchman.

Back in Malaysia, we are still very much stuck in the quagmire of age-old politics. No new political discourse, and people are getting increasingly tired of politics.

Politicians on both sides of the great divide are busily attacking their rivals, and an issue as minor as the demolition of a restaurant can be exploited over and over again for so long.

Our political leaders hardly come up with any new ideas, such that they can even come forward with comments like “you help me, I help you” and remarks that are a sheer humiliation to our secularism.

It will be a disaster if Mahathir ever gets to become the PM again, as he is said to have offered to.

History will repeat

Pakatan Harapan has banked on Mahathir’s influence to win the support of rural Malay voters, but have the opposition parties ever questioned the policies of his Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM), or the party’s stand on the New Economic Policy and other racial issues?

If Pakatan fails to strike a common understanding and resolve the political differences among member parties, the history of PAS quitting the pact and causing a split in the opposition camp will very likely be repeated.

There are apparent differences between the ideologies of both DAP and PPBM, and for goodness sake, these must never be swept under the carpet.

The voters’ eroded confidence may be restored if the opposition pact would come forward with a common policy statement soonest, offering alternative solutions to address the country’s crisis.

Nevertheless, for the past four years we have only seen opposition parties arguing over a wide range of issues, or harping on the RM2.6 billion political donation and 1MDB scandals without offering any positive solution.

To be honest, people in cities and towns are well familiar with the 1MDB issue, and organising another rally in urban areas will not have any additional impact. In its stead, too many rallies will only trigger political lethargy among the people.

Perhaps Pakatan should think why more and more people have become disinterested in the election and would rather cast spoilt votes.

Our democratic politics will be in for a major disaster if political lethargy crushes the people’s faith in democracy.

Pakatan must make a bold move to allow young leaders to take charge. Anwar Ibrahim is still behind bars and Mahathir’s record is anything but desirable. Both are not suitable candidates to helm this country.

Severely divided and at a crossroads, the country is in need of young faces that are fresh, bold to change and who will start a fresh political revolution to create a new nation for us all.

If Pakatan is not even courageous enough to take the lead to change, how do we expect it to change this country?

Lim Sue Goan is deputy executive chief editor of Sin Chew Daily.

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