March 15, 2013
Musa’s candor is bipartisanship’s grist
By Terence Netto@http://www.malaysiakini.com
It’s not his style to have declined to say something, given the gravity of the issues before the electorate and of the decision that voters must make at GE-13.
To have avoided making a comment would have been contrary to his instincts as a politician, albeit a retired one, and his stature as an elder statesman in Malaysian councils.
Someone in his situation could not be expected to have let current matters pass without comment of the objective sort. UMNO man though he is, a reflexive partisanship is just not his style.
When matters facing the nation are fraught, Musa can be expected to lift anchor and float intriguingly in the space between a concern for the where the country is headed and the understandable partisanship of a party man.
One remembers the remarks he made when there was a rush by Malays to join PAS in the aftermath of Anwar Ibrahim’s sacking from government and UMNO in late 1998. The expulsion and public humiliation of the former Deputy Prime Minister became an international cause celebre and generated a tidal movement towards signing up for PAS.
After observing the phenomenon for some time – a year on from September 1998, PAS had doubled its membership from 400,000 – Musa confessed to being amazed at the magnetism of the Islamic party, whereupon one of the party’s columnists, Subky Latif, offered to “sediakan borang” (fetch Musa a membership form).
Of course Musa, admiring though he was at the rush to sign up with PAS, wasn’t going to join the cavalcade. But his readiness to observe and remark candidly on the phenomenon was reflective of a trait all democrats ought to have: common sensical acknowledgment of easily attributable happenings.
Absent this quality, the competitive process in a democracy will be reduced to a raucous shouting match and is bound to become a turnoff to voters.
The trait of candid acknowledgment of easily ascribable phenomena is sine qua non of all parties to the democratic process in which competing coalitions vie for the privilege of ruling the country.
Musa’s last hurrah
In his most recent instance of unabashed recognition of compelling realities, Musa was reported to have said that Pakatan Rakyat won’t want to bankrupt the Treasury simply because they would want to be returned to power at GE-14 should they win GE-13.
So even if certain planks in the Pakatan manifesto appear impossible to fulfill, Musa was saying that a desire to be returned to power would slow, if not halt, a gallop to the fiscal precipice.
Pakatan cannot hope for a more candid acknowledgment from one from the other side of the country’s political divide about their seriousness as contenders for national governance not just now but for decades to come.
Pakatan have in Musa a credible candidate for the role of speaker of the Dewan Rakyat should it gain Putrajaya at GE13.
This is not to suggest that Musa was angling to be appointed to the role by his recent remarks on Pakatan’s viability.
Some time ago, Subki Latif suggested Musa for the role on the basis of his credibility as a personage on the national political scene.
Pakatan would embellish its claims to bipartisanship by appointing Musa to the role should they win power at the next polls.
And Musa would relish a last hurrah in national affairs as fair-minded interlocutor between two competing coalitions which are likely to run each other close at the general election.
Parliament would be an elevated arena for debate on issues. Rare would be the repeat of demeaning instances of the past when unparliamentary language and actions debased the arena.
Musa would have just the right combination of elegant speech and enlivening humour to steer proceedings along elevating channels. He will be 79 next month; there’s no reason these days to think that a person would be past it in his ninth decade in this world.
A prospective role in Malaysia’s 13th Parliament’s elevation would bring his career to a coda that recalls the poet Robert Frost’s lines on old age:
No memory of having starred
Atones for later disregard
Nor keeps the end from being hard
Better to go down with boughten friendship at your side
Than with none at all. Provide, Provide.