Nasi goreng and party wives

Pontian MP Ahmad Maslan can come up with simple remedies to national issues and at the same time annoy the public. Some regard him as a harmless character and a butt of jokes.

Sometimes politics can get a bit serious, such as when PKR members bashed each other up during their party assembly. But people like Maslan bring humour, indeed ridicule, to politics.

Ahmad Maslan recently offered himself to be the government’s consultant on the goods and services tax (GST).

He has also suggested intermarriage between Umno and PAS members to strengthen the bond between the two parties.

“Any Pemuda who is unmarried, you should marry the daughters of PAS members. Those who are married to Wanita Umno members, you should take a second wife if you can afford it,” he said.

I wonder how the women in Muafakat Nasional feel when a man simply talks about taking a wife as if they are chattels that can be bought and sold.

What happens if Muafakat Nasional breaks up? Would the marriage still be relevant?

In 2015, when people complained about GST and rising costs, Ahmad, as the deputy finance minister, shared a photograph of his “tax-free” nasi goreng.

He prepared the fried rice solely from GST-exempt ingredients to prove a point. He did this to show people that they could make good financial decisions with food if they wanted to avoid the burdensome GST.

Naturally, people lambasted him for his silliness in trying to prove a point that has little relevance to their complaints.

His ingenuity to show a GST-free recipe might be useful to Umno-PAS who intend to marry each other as he could show them how to save money like “nasi goreng strawberry” and such likes.

Party members who may be tempted to take up his advice will need help as their top leaders now face trials in court for abuse of power and corruption.

The ordinary members will get the crumbs and need more help to get through a sluggish economy by tightening their belts. A daily dose of nasi goreng might just be the answer.

The problem with marriage with people in commonality is the danger of incestuous amplifications. “Identity politics” will continue in Muafakat Nasional and the marriage will lead to more of the same.

Continuing divisive rhetoric such as declaring someone a “pig shooting champion” carries strong racial and religious overtones. Such innuendos will only divide Malaysians and spread hatred, as was the case with the Kongres Maruah Melayu.

Despite the cosiness displayed at the recent Umno annual general assembly, there are doubts how this very public love affair with PAS will pan out.

There is already a difference in opinion over the approach on which door to enter. PAS secretary-general Takiyuddin Hassan said it had no problem forming a backdoor government. Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi disagrees and prefers the front door approach, saying they will not form a new government through negotiations with other political leaders.

PAS’ backdoor approach is like going to Thailand and marrying a second wife without the first wife’s consent, while the Umno way is like asking the first wife’s consent before marrying a second wife.

Here, Umno tries to be the honest broker while the Islamic party is willing to do anything behind their partner’s back to achieve its goals.

Political marriages of convenience don’t have great success because they are filled with self-interest, absent of chemistry and of course, real love, wrote a New Zealand politician.

The big question is, will Muafakat Nasional have some kind of permanence since Umno and PAS have different ideologies, each appealing to their own supporters?

Politics is like a revolving door. The same type of toxic politics and players go round and round forming a vicious cycle.

PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang forgot how he was played out by Najib Razak before the general election on his private member’s bill to strengthen shariah provisions. Najib toyed with him till the very end, and Hadi’s RUU355 plan was eventually abandoned.

PAS is only a marriage of convenience for Umno, and PAS knows that it cannot occupy positions on a national stage without Umno’s support.

Dr Mahathir Mohamad has reminded the people that PAS leaders had labelled Umno members as “kafir”, or infidels, and have yet to rescind the decree.

Hadi was the one who said that if you work with kafirs, you also become a kafir. So the label is on him now, according to Mahathir.

In the Tanjung Piai by-election, opposition parties joined forces. While it was the Chinese voters who turned against Pakatan Harapan by supporting an MCA candidate, Umno-PAS claimed the victory was due to Muafakat Nasional.

This theory has to be tested in a general election as non-Malays are wary of PAS’ plan for a theocratic state.

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