Dr M must not take the people for granted

Despite the facade of general peace and normality within Pakatan Harapan (PH), we know that all is not well in the corridors of power.

The truth is, Malaysia continues to be plagued by many national issues that are threatening the very survival of PH as the ruling coalition.

Never mind the economic problems and cost of living which are a source of great misery to the people. People know that the root cause of the problem is the state of the world and global economy over which PH has very little control.

People are aware that they now live in a world roiled with economic uncertainty as a result of the trade war between the US, China and other superpowers, so much so that there is now talk of an imminent recession.

But the major source of concern for the people is the many national problems, seen as either self-inflicted by the top leadership of PH or a result of bad politics and poor governance.

From incompetent ministers to arbitrary appointments of key personnel to head government agencies, the failure to bring the Azmin Ali sex video scandal to a satisfactory closure, the issue of khat as part of the syllabus, Lynas and the third national car – these are of great concern to the country.

The royal commission of inquiry into judicial misconduct is also a hushed subject with no new developments.

To make matters worse, the government has gotten itself embroiled in the completely unnecessary Zakir Naik controversy.

Naik is a controversial preacher from India, and to his worldwide audience, he has no qualms about attacking other faiths. Even in the Muslim world, his method is not welcome.

Of course, he should be allowed to articulate his brand of Islam but he must be accountable under both local and international laws. He is wanted by the Indian government to answer criminal charges but Malaysia is resisting the extradition process.

For Dr Mahathir Mohamad to protect him creates unnecessary issues and problems for our country. Mahathir has placed Malaysia in a precarious position in the eyes of the international community. It has cause divisions among the people.

Naik, with his remarks about non-Malays and his solidarity with Umno and PAS, is becoming swollen-headed.

Mahathir is playing a very dangerous game of Machiavellian politics with approaches to Umno and PAS to be part of his new political equation. The fact that Umno and PAS are seen as anathema to PH and that their brand of politics is repugnant does not seem to matter.

Preserving and maintaining consensus within PH in the governance of the nation is no longer sacrosanct to Mahathir. He wants it all done in accordance with his prescriptions.

To ensure that his script is followed, Mahathir has no qualms about creating or setting up new political alignments involving other parties outside of PH.

The succession issue continues to haunt the nation. Despite firm commitments, including from Mahathir himself, to honour the pledge to pass power to Anwar Ibrahim, the succession issue remains murky.

There have been so many contradictory statements from Mahathir on the issue that we don’t really know what he is up to.

He may say one thing on one occasion and do something completely inconsistent with his earlier statements on another occasion.

Many political observers are saying that from the inner sanctum of power, Mahathir has been and is orchestrating things to get them done his way. And from there, his sleek-headed advisers, men with mean and hungry looks, will push for Mahathir’s agenda. It was like that before and it is no different now.

The opposition wants to see discord in the succession plan. They would only benefit from any fallout.

Abdul Hadi Awang of PAS has extra motivation to prevent Anwar from succeeding Mahathir, given their long history of rivalry and animosity. Hadi appears to believe that he would make a better prime minister than Anwar, hence his insistence that Mahathir continue as prime minister for a full term.

I have been steadfast in my support of Mahathir, and have cautioned him to be more mindful of the sentiments of the people who want to see him rule the nation in line with the narratives of Malaysia Baru.

But after initial hope of a more liberal leadership, the people have begun to realise that Mahathir has started to revert to his dictatorial and strong-arm ways.

He has begun to impose his personal vision and agenda to move Malaysia forward. That power corrupts is an obvious dictum but even in his second opportunity as prime minister, Mahathir still finds it difficult to resist holding on to the lure and grandeur of power.

A Kadir Jasin, seen as Mahathir’s spokesman, was compelled to comment that it is imperative for Mahathir to stick to the two to three-year timeline to which he has committed. It is as if the wise old man is giving a stark reminder to Mahathir that for all the trappings of power and authority, nobody should overstay their welcome.

At 94, how much longer can Mahathir continue grappling with the nation’s problems?

Instead of overstaying with the risk of an ignominious end, it would be best for Mahathir to make a gracious exit sooner rather than later.

We want to preserve and maintain his rich legacy. And we want to remember him as a true and iconic statesman with whom Malaysia was blessed.

We need to ask ourselves where we stand. Loyalty and obedience to a government and leader are conditional; defiance and rebellion are always for a reason.

Ultimately, all things must relate to what is good for the nation and people.

Brutus, when justifying the assassination of Caesar, said, “Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more.”

It has been stressful for Anwar to deal with the unpredictability of Mahathir. There are already signs of rebellion from within.

For now, things appear under control but they could get worse before they get better. If that were to happen, we could end up with a vote of no confidence in Parliament.

It would be unwise for Anwar or Mahathir to force a decision through such a route. Let there be a peaceful handover of power from Mahathir to Anwar. And after that, let the people decide what is right and good for them.

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