I really don’t understand why Pakatan Harapan has to make a series of retreats to appease certain segments of racial and religious forces over the last 11 months or so.
It is not just the recent by-election losses but more so in the manner the PH government abandoned the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and failed to reform the matriculation admission system.
In three instances, one after another, the government failed to provide a clear political direction to the people in the country.
Although these are different issues, the PH government was more interested in appeasing sections of society prone to extreme racial and religious persuasions.
But why abandon the majority who supported the reforms under the present government?
Rather than refuting the extreme racial arguments of those who opposed ICERD, the Rome Statute or the continuation of the lopsided matriculation system, the government caved in to these exaggerated parochial discourses.
PH is not really subjected to the problem of crossovers; it has a comfortable simple majority. We have a strong and stern prime minister in Dr Mahathir Mohamad who is known for his “no nonsense” attitude.
He has the credit for taking on the impossible, such as the royalty or the sultans.
If indeed there is a confrontation, the rakyat will support the prime minister in power, more so with Mahathir in power.
In the last general election, PH did the unthinkable. While earlier coalitions failed to unseat BN, it was PH that performed this “miracle”.
PPBM might have been the weakest link in the PH coalition, but crossovers from Umno in the recent past have strengthened the party somewhat, although the elusive two-thirds majority remains.
It is well and fine not to expect PH to deliver its election promises within a year or two.
Of course, matters have been resolved but many other pledges remain to be addressed or resolved. While time is of a critical factor, PH must be mindful of the expectations of the rakyat.
At least for the time being, while internal matters are being sorted out, the coalition could at least convince its supporters of its schedule of things to be implemented within a time period. By being silent, things might not be in favour of PH.
What really bugs PH supporters is the fact that a small segment of the opposition seems to have so much impact in derailing the important decisions of the PH.
So, when it comes to taking a stand on important matters, PH is not motivated by progressive considerations but what others think and whether they will politicise the matter to the point that it might lose support in the future.
I don’t understand why PH could capitulate on ICERD when it had made an earlier commitment to support it.
How can the convention alter the status and constitutional provisions in regard to protection of the Bumiputera community?
Just because PAS and Umno went to town with its opposition to ICERD, PH was not only rattled but abandoned its intention to ratify the convention.
At the end of the day, PH abandoned its larger societal concerns by giving in to narrow and parochial interests, all in the name of preservation of the coalition.
I am not sure whether this is the kind of preservation we need at the expense of the promises made to deliver a new and reformed Malaysia.
Just because some sections of the royalty was misinformed about the effects of the adoption of the Rome Statute by some half-baked academics, the PH government caved in without even questioning their narrow analysis.
The net effect was just like the way we abandoned ICERD — we refused to ratify the Rome Statute.
This is the government that was democratically elected to bring about changes for the betterment of the people. Another major man-made disaster!
The matriculation admission system, based on a lopsided racial quota of 90:10, was the product of the racial system instituted by Umno-BN for a number of decades.
PH, rather than reforming this unfair and unjust system, made the decision to continue with the old racist formula, merely increasing the intake of students following protests.
Again, in the case of ICERD and the Rome Statute, PH abandoned the need to reform or change the matriculation system.
P Ramasamy is Penang deputy chief minister II.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.