Something rotten in the state of Malaysia Baru

“Something is rotten in the state of Denmark” is what Marcellus, an officer of the palace guard, uttered in Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” after the ghost of the dead king appears, walking over the palace walls.

Denmark at the time was festering with moral and political corruption. Horatio replied, “Heaven will direct it” to health and stability.

Today, it would be more appropriate to say that something is rotten in the state of Malaysia Baru.

So many debacles have shaken the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government over the past one year, the latest being the same-sex expose which is said involve Mohamed Azmin Ali, the powerful economic affairs minister and the blue-eyed boy of the prime minister.

At the time of writing, it is still a developing story with new revelations exposed at regular intervals and no clear end in sight.

The two main protagonists are the pair in the videos, one of whom is Haziq Aziz, going by his own admission.

He later accused Azmin of recording the videos for his own “private collection”.

The spotlight then turned to the third protagonist, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who picked Azmin as a senior minister and placed so much faith in him.

Mahathir has stood by his blue-eyed boy, dismissing the said videos as fake and the work of people with sinister political agendas.

The fourth protagonist is the police, who have been tasked with determining the authenticity of the videos and whether a crime has been committed. On them rests the crucial responsibility to conduct a professional investigation without any political interference whatsoever.

Up until now, the police have been saying that investigations are ongoing, although talk is that they already know the answers based on forensic experts and have briefed the PM.

The police and authorities have very little room to manoeuvre. Other independent experts could also make their own findings on the authenticity of the videos, such as the ones quoted by Australia’s SBC News.

Many people who watched the video clips are of the opinion that they look too real to be dismissed as fake.

“I have been in the creative business for as long as I can remember, so I can differentiate a fake from an authentic video. I don’t need Bukit Aman to confirm that the Azmin videos are authentic. I am devastated,” said one commentator on social media.

In the days to come, more experts will hit the news.

The final protagonist is Anwar Ibrahim, the PKR president and PM-in-waiting.

By right, Anwar should not be or be seen as a player of any significance in this play. But he is being unwittingly drawn into it by the circumstances of the case.

As PKR president, he has to act wisely in dealing with the situation, knowing full well that the alleged key players are PKR members, one of whom is his deputy in the party. He also has to deal with the allegations that the production and circulation of the clips are the work of groups within PKR who are out to destroy Azmin’s political career.

So far he has dealt with the problem most adroitly with his measured and circumspect responses. Despite pressure from within the Azmin camp to act against Haziq, Anwar has counselled them to leave it to the police to conduct the investigations and wait for their report and findings.

How will this end?

The question on everybody’s lips now is whether Azmin can survive the barrage of exposes and assaults on his reputation.

Azmin and his supporters’ attempts to deflect the issue by raising the spectre of political conspiracy and blaming insiders within PKR do not seem to have gained traction with the public. They appear to insist that all this is secondary to the main issue of whether the clips are genuine or fake.

For now, PKR and PH are still intact. But the future is still fraught with challenges.

It is unclear what will happen if Azmin resigns or is forced to resign from his posts as a result of the scandal. Will there be a fallout and will his supporters retaliate by walking out of the party?

What and how will Mahathir and his supporters react to the situation? And how will that impact PH?

On the other hand, if Azmin is to survive his biggest challenge and test so far, will he just keep quiet and let things settle down, or will he instead mount a challenge to Anwar and the PKR leadership?

These are burning questions which will shape the direction and destiny of PKR and PH.

Ultimately, the question is how will all this work out and what will it mean to the people?

Will personal and intra-party politics take centre stage at the expense of the larger interest of the nation and people? That would indeed be a sad situation for Malaysia Baru.

It would be a far cry from the high hopes and expectations that came with the change of government last year.

It would appear that the people can no longer rely on their government and political masters to bring them to a safer and better future.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.