In other liberal democratic countries, governments collapse when there are factions fighting for different ideologies or interests. While there certainly are opposing interests among the parties in Pakatan Harapan and Barisan Nasional, the reasons given by Dr Mahathr Mohamad for resigning as the 7th prime minister are not convincing.
From the start, it was evident that Mahathir had no intention of handing over the reins to Anwar Ibrahim.
In a 1998 video, he had told the world press that Anwar was not fit to be PM because he lacked moral rectitude. Until today, he still has not apologised or retracted that condemnation of Anwar.
He made it clear to all that he was prepared to work with Umno and PAS and the Mohd Azmin Ali faction of PKR. He vehemently refused to be tied down to naming a date for the handover of power to Anwar.
It was the incessant importuning by PKR and DAP leaders to state the handover date, and his refusal to do so, which ultimately led him to resign.
The departure of his own party, PPBM, from the PH coalition then led to the collapse of the government. Thus, we have “gotten into this fine mess” due to this really frivolous reason and not through any cataclysmic economic, political or social crisis faced by the nation.
The subsequent turnaround by Anwar and the DAP leaders, pleading for Mahathir to stay on, must be the lowest point to which politicians were prepared to go in opportunistic flip-flopping.
Only when Mahathir announced his intention to form a unity government did PH finally decide that they were actually the ones ready to form the next government with Anwar as PM, if they have the numbers.
We credit Mahathir with being a cunning old fox. Nevertheless, his latest unity government proposal will be unpopular, not only with PH but also with civil society.
The opposing coalition of Umno and PAS has already declared its refusal to work with DAP. But in Malaysia, you never know how “pragmatic” politicians can be.
If Mahathir does succeed in cobbling together a unity government, Malaysian civil society will certainly rise up to the challenge of playing the true opposition front. Or, could this unity government idea turn out to be Mahathir’s swan song?
The only dignified exit from this political farce is to call for new elections so that the people can vote for whom they think are the good, the bad and the ugly in the new political menagerie.
Kua Kia Soong is the adviser to Suaram.
The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.