By TK Chua
Yes, it is true – the opposition at the federal level can only talk. But that is because the opposition has not helmed a single day in federal government. So, it is quite impossible to ask them to prove their worth.
On the other hand, it is the ruling coalition that must prove their worth.
But with former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad now proposed by Pakatan Harapan (PH) as the prime minister-candidate, some argue it is likely that Malaysia will revert to Mahathir’s era of the 1980s and 90s.
Is there a basis to this view? Is there a basis to believe that Mahathir under Barisan Nasional (BN)/Umno would be the same as Mahathir under PBBM/PH?
It is my considered opinion that Mahathir will probably be more mindful, sensitive and mellow now. I think receiving criticism when out of power is more telling than when he was in power. I believe, too, that Mahathir under PH will be more circumscribed.
To me, it is good for politicians to spend some time in the wilderness. When Anwar Ibrahim was in Umno, his policies and behaviour were not much different from that of present Umno leaders.
Likewise, Mukhriz Mahathir when he was Kedah menteri besar tried to be “difficult” with Penang. But I believe both Anwar and Mukhriz will be better leaders now if they are given the opportunity.
Besides leaders going through changes in circumstances and time, I believe, too, that PH is a “different” coalition. I believe PH MPs and assemblypersons are braver and less subjected to vested interests, at least for now. I believe they are able to play their roles more effectively in curbing the power of the executive branch.
Consolidation of power usually comes with time. For this reason, I think it is better to have term limits on the PM and various state MBs and CMs as proposed by PH. Even communist China today has implicit term limitations on its president.
The federal government is much bigger and more powerful than all the state governments combined. Putrajaya is a coveted prize, no doubt.
Umno/BN can always boast of their long experience in leading and administrating the federal government. However, experience has its responsibilities.
With their experience, Umno/BN must now prove to the people their worth over the last 60 years, but more importantly, the last five to 10 years. The “inexperienced” PH, on the other hand, only needs to sell hopes, ideas and programmes to the people.
It is the right of Umno/BN to sell their successes. But as an incumbent ruling coalition, they must also explain and account for their failures – from imposing GST, the high cost of living, extravagance and malfeasance to the anaemic economy.
As for PH, they only need to sell hopes, aspirations, ideas, and programmes that are logical, sensible and viable to the people. They do not have to over-promise. They just have to identify priorities and tell the people how they can help achieve them. For example, most youngsters love to watch English Premier League football. Tell them how they can achieve this without burning a hole in their pockets.
TK Chua is an FMT reader.
The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.