FRANCIS PAUL SIAH
COMMENT As I pen this, I am reminded of Ambiga Sreenevasan’s warning that “if the Pakatan Harapan government does not implement certain key reforms by June this year, the people will take to the streets again”.
A failure of Harapan’s commitment to reform would see Malaysians back on the streets, the former Bersih chair said, adding that if it has to be done, then it has to be done.
“This is not because of the government, this is because of the people,” she stressed on Jan 18.
I am in total support of Ambiga on this.
In fact, I have also mentioned that possibility in my article three weeks earlier on Dec 27, stating that: “I hope the day will not come when Malaysians have to take to the streets to demand that Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad steps aside.”
By June, should Ambiga make the clarion call to Malaysians to launch street protests against the Harapan government, I believe many Malaysians, civil society certainly, will heed her call.
Count me in. June is less than four months away, and I’m ready for Bersih 6 or under other platforms.
Harapan leaders have repeatedly appealed for more time to carry out the necessary reforms but what did we witness after 21 months? Nothing of substance as far as I can recall.
Some of the dumb ministers are still around, although the dumbest of them all – the one who was fond of black shoes – has been given the long-overdue boot.
Isn’t it true that the appetite for reform, if indeed there was any, has been replaced by political parlour games – accusing political opponents of the use of nebulous or confusing language when describing their positions on issues?
We have not witnessed any tangible reforms except for bringing leaders of the previous regime to court and the obsession of digging up the dirt on 1MDB, if indeed these could be classified as reforms.
Heck, is that the best Harapan could manage, even when it is helmed by a leader with 22 years of experience as prime minister to his name?
But it seems that the worst has just started to dawn on us. Recent political developments in the country have caused much unease and anxiety among Malaysians.
Not only is Harapan’s failure to initiate its promised reforms the primary cause of the prevailing concerns and jitters engulfing the nation today.
The widening cracks within the Harapan coalition brought about by endless infighting and dirty politicking have gone unabated over the past many months.
Of Harapan’s 21 months in office, I would safely say that only the first six months have seen some semblance of peace, cooperation and order.
The rest was wasted on what could be described as a citizen’s worst nightmare – their political leaders scheming and gunning down one another under a wave of deceit and mistrust all for the greed of power, position and personal glory.
This is how bad the situation is today. Sadly, top Harapan leaders seem to be enjoying their parlour games, oblivious to the stress and anxiety suffered by the citizenry.
Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, for one, did not seem bothered by what Malaysians in general thought of the overtures from Umno and PAS in support of his leadership.
A “floating” prime minister (although it was meant in jest) will not be able to instil confidence in his leadership among the people. This is no laughing matter to Malaysians who rejected the two enemy parties outright in GE14.
The feelings of those who supported Harapan in GE14 did not seem to matter to Mahathir at all, judging from the way he took the matter so lightly.
But Umno was serious about its intention of cooperating with Mahathir and his Bersatu party, with a meeting planned today to finalise its stand on the matter.
PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang (photo) has also repeatedly pledged his backing for Mahathir, having been welcomed by the prime minister to his office and residence on several occasions.
When talks first surfaced on Jan 21 of a purported attempt by PAS to align itself with Harapan which will result in the Islamic party’s entry into Mahathir’s government, I issued a statement in Kuching describing it as “a betrayal of the highest order” if the speculation was true.
Let me repeat my concerns on the matter again, in light of heightened rumours of a new political re-alignment in Mahathir’s government.
“PAS was rejected by Malaysians going into GE 14. Even right-thinking Malaysian Muslims found PAS’ brand of political Islam too extreme in plural Malaysia.
“Any such alignment meant getting PAS into the government through the back door. Harapan coalition partners, PKR, DAP and Amanah should quickly wise up to any such attempt by Mahathir and Bersatu to put PAS in power via undemocratic means.
“Any move to prioritise racial and religious interests and concerns for political expediency should be rejected outright by all.
“Again, I can only describe the purported major realignment of Malaysia’s political landscape, if indeed it is true, as a betrayal of the highest order on the part of Bersatu against PKR, DAP, Amanah and all Malaysians who supported Harapan in GE14.
“Such an attempt must not be allowed to succeed,” I added in my Jan 21 statement.
Today, let me say this to Mahathir and Bersatu: Don’t you dare betray Malaysians! We will never forgive you for going back on our mandate.
To other leaders intoxicated with power, particularly a certain faction in PKR, please be reminded of the adage: “The power of the people is much stronger than the people in power.”
The power of the people is with Ambiga and many other concerned and caring Malaysians, who like her love their country.
Don’t force her and Malaysians to take to the streets to get rid of undeserving politicians to protect the sanctity of parliamentary democracy.
June is just four months away. Don’t say that you have not been warned.
FRANCIS PAUL SIAH heads the Movement for Change, Sarawak (MoCS) and can be reached at email@example.com.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.