By Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, Amanah strategy director.
HISTORY has witnessed the collapse and defeat of “grand old parties”. Among them, the Institutional Revolutionary Party’s (PRI) 71-year-rule in Mexico (1929-2000) and six decades of the Colorado Party monopoly in Paraguay (1947-2008).
Corruption and autocracy spelt the demise 40 years ago of the lndian National Congress, whose lofty ideals were once inspired by the iconic Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru.
Political pundits are beginning to moot the idea of a similar misfortune befalling the United Malay National Organisation (Umno) which has ruled Malaysia uninterruptedly for 63 years since her first elections on July 27, 1955. Will it ever become a reality in this “Mother of all battles” of the 14th general election (GE14)?
Taking cognisance of the wise words of Albert Einstein: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”, Pakatan Harapan has turned the tables on Umno, with the unanticipated nomination of Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail as its prime minister and deputy prime minister designate.
Umno was visibly struck and frantic when PH unleashed these two stellar doctors to “detox” the overly “toxic politics” of Malaysia and “critically ill” nation. The agony of the rakyat, beyond cost of living, seems equally unbearable, too.
Umno’s spin doctors and media machine were on overdrive to character assassinate the “vintage” 92-year-old Dr Mahathir. Ministers led by Prime Minister Najib Razak, were spewing malicious and defamatory remarks of the person of Dr Mahathir round the clock. But it is obvious to all and sundry that Umno-BN has hit the panic button.
Understandably so, on the heel of securing 53% of the popular vote in Peninsular Malaysia and 51% nationally in GE13 by the Reformasi icon, Anwar Ibrahim, what does it now take to affect the “last push” of securing an outright victory in GE14?
Well, it would seem very plausible that the Dr Mahathir-Dr Wan Azizah combo would provide the Midas touch required to trigger the final ousting and demise of the Najib Umno-BN kleptocratic government. It is not for the dearth of younger crops of leaders, namely Azmin Ali, Husam Musa, Nurul Izzah Anwar, Rafizi Ramli et al but more so, because only Dr Mahathir and without Anwar, Dr Wan Azizah that now fit the bill!
The prospect of having the first woman DPM is outlandish to the many women voters wanting to see more than just lip-service.
More strategically, this PH leadership decision abundantly debunks the oft-repeated propaganda that DAP dominates the coalition.
The named PM and DPM-designate from PH has obliterated all such nonsense as Lim Kit Siang would become the new PM or Lim Guan Eng would be installed as the deputy prime minister.
But lo and behold, PH is still very much a Malay-Muslim leadership, albeit an inclusive and progressive one. That is the narrative for a new hope (harapan) and a new beginning… a better Malaysia.
The decision literally took the wind of their sails. Both Najib and Abdul Hadi Awang have considerably lost their premium GE14 campaign, in the rural and as well urban Malay-Muslim voters, from using the race and religious card.
Granted, the early announcement of Dr Mahathir-Dr Wan Azizah was a political master stroke of sort. It was deliberately aimed at redressing the many Malay dilemma and the “manufactured” confusion.
The choice of the Malay leadership is now clear: between one which works for “maintaining kleptocracy” and one which attempts at “debunking kleptocracy”.
The combination of Dr Mahathir-Dr Wan Azizah hence mainstreamed the Reformasi message, which was captured in the “13 agenda for change” at the PH convention. Notwithstanding, an action plan was also laid out for the eventual nomination of Anwar as the eighth prime minister by the executive branch of the PH government.
Besides, Dr Mahathir in his acceptance speech invoked forgiveness for his excesses in the past. It was magnanimous much as it is a rarity in political history. His special mentioning and thanking of the family and former ally-turned-nemesis-turned-ally was stupendous, much to the chagrin of the unrepentant and remorseless Najib.
Quite timely too, some of the allegations against Dr Mahathir are now proven false and unfounded.
The former attorney-general Abu Talib Othman, in a recorded video message, clarified that Dr Mahathir was not responsible for the unceremonious discharge of chief justice Salleh Abbas and a few other judges.
The Memali tragedy was laid flat to the face of Hadi and his acrimonious Amanat Hadi. The ploy of Najib to blame Dr Mahathir for the Bank Negara forex losses was wittily rebutted by Dr Mahathir’s expose of RM161 billion forex losses, when BNM tried, in vain, to “defend” the falling ringgit using our foreign reserve.
Has PH found in this duo a special formula to fortify the strategic planning for a victory in GE14? The suffering rakyat, particularly the bottom-40 (B-40), the lower middle-40 (M-40) and in fact across all the social class, gender, age, ethno-religious and voters’ segmentations, would want to believe that change is not only possible but as well mandatory in GE14.
With the nation on the brink of a systemic collapse, due to a prime minister who usurps all power of check and balance, failure is no longer an option. – January 16, 2018.
* Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad is Amanah strategy director.