May 9, 2017
The Harapan New Deal–Mahathir : The Hobson’s Choice for the Opposition?
Cmdr (rtd) S. Thayaparan@www.malaysiakini.com
Strange Brew in the Politics of Convenience
“I see Datuk Seri Najib is bending backwards to appease the Chinese, in the process of course he has antagonised quite a lot of Malays.”
— Former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad
“Gua Tolong Lu, Lu Tolong Gua.”
–Prime Minister Najib Razak
Everything columnist P Gunasegaram wrote in both his articles about the former Prime Minister and does ‘Harapan need Mahathir’ is correct and if you believe that saving Malaysia means getting rid of the current grand UMNO Grand Poobah then yes, the Opposition does need Mahathir.
“Correct” in everything, other than bringing PAS back in the fold. Then again, it is somewhat correct. I know what Guna means about bringing PAS back in the fold. There is a dialectic going on within PAS that scares the hell out of the Abdul Hadi Awang-UMNO wing of PAS and it is probably this element that Guna thinks is worth working with.
Hopefully the strategists in the Opposition are working on this because the Opposition has only ever been successful when they present a unified front against the hegemon. While Abdul Hadi Awang attempts to work his magic for his patrons in Putrajaya, he is mindful of manoeuvres from within to undermine the post-Tok Guru Nik Aziz Nik Mat reality he is attempting to forge. But this is not what this article is about.
The Return of an Old Warrior–Can he make a Difference?
As I have argued, needing Mahathir is a Hobson’s choice of the Opposition’s making and while racial politics has always been a feature of opposition politics, the rhetoric coming from the de facto Opposition leader is furthering the fear-mongering racial narratives that used to be only the province of UMNO only.
Those dark paths to retaining power is always fraught with danger and it is naïve to think that the Opposition is “using” Mahathir. Nobody has ever used Mahathir and as one dejected DAP political strategist told me, referencing a line from a forgettable Nicholas Cage film ‘8MM’, “When you dance with devil, the devil doesn’t change, the devil changes you.”
You have to give it to former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Even when he is peddling his ‘Malay’nationalistic narrative, he manages to include the ‘domestic’ Chinese under his protection by claiming that “local businesses, largely Malaysian Chinese owned, will definitely lose out to those of the Mainland Chinese.”
Najib Razak’s Secret Weapon for GE-14 to subjugate the Malays
The operative word here is “Chinese” and even though Mahathir said, “It is this massive immigration that we object to. If the project is by Indians and a few million Indians are to come and live in Malaysia, we would also strongly object” – this probably does not include a certain Indian national (preacher Zakir Naik)who has been granted PR status and will no doubt be the loudspeaker du jour from the UMNOo regime to shore up ‘Malay’ support.
While Perkasa’s Ibrahim Ali is grateful that the Bandar Malaysia, or whatever is called, is flushed down the toilet at the moment, I do wonder though that if those “local largely owned Malaysian Chinese” concerns are as relieved as Perkasa? This considering the fact that business in Malaysia is an unholy brew of ‘ketuanan’ politics and Chinese plutocrat enablers.
Foreign interlopers are a legitimate concern; that is why the strategy is used the world over and extremely effectively by far-right political parties. Here in Malaysia, where the distinction between local and foreign Chinese is unappreciated in the crowd that Bersatu and Pakatan are attempting to win over, this idea that appealing to the baser fearful instincts of the Malay electorate spells nothing but trouble for Malaysia.
Yes, it is putarbelitism ala Najib’s UMNO
Anti-Chinese narratives fuel ‘ketuanan’ politics and while it may seem like a good political strategy to further the narratives that the Malay community is under threat from foreign Chinese intervention, the reality is thanks to Biro Tatanegara (BTN) courses, the social contract, the racist rhetoric of UMNO, the ‘putarbelit’ narratives of the Opposition, this meme that the Malay community will always be under siege, is what is going to destroy this country in the near future.
When the former Prime Minister writes – “Pimpinan tertinggi DAP mengaku bahawa oleh kerana penduduk Cina adalah minoriti di Malaysia, tidak mungkin DAP mendirikan kerajaan di peringkat pusat di Malaysia, jauh sekali menjadi perdana menteri walaupun jika DAP menang semuakerusi yang ditandingi,” in attempts to reassure the Malay polity that all is well in the state of Denmark, the only thing the DAP can do assume the role that MCA played while the UMNO regime made its carpetbagger deals with the Malay community.
Just four years ago, DAP’s Tony Pua was warning Malaysians of the former prime minister’s attempt to redefine racism. He wrote – “When Malays vote overwhelmingly for UMNO in the past, it is never ‘racism’. When a 100 percent Malay crowd hold weekly protests against the Pakatan Rakyat government in Penang, it is not ‘racism’. When Chinese voted for MCA in the past, that can’t be ‘racism’. When Chinese also voted strongly for PAS and PKR in the current elections, PAS and PKR are not accused of ‘racism’.
“When Malays increased their support for the DAP candidates in the same election, Dr Mahathir accused DAP of spreading “propaganda” that influenced educated Malays into perceiving the Barisan Nasional (BN) government as corrupt.
“However, when the Chinese also voted strongly for DAP, that is proof of DAP ‘racism’. When many Chinese turns up at Pakatan Rakyat events, that is beyond shadow of a doubt, Chinese ‘racism’. What type of senile perverted logic is that?”
Some would argue that it is the same “perverted logic” that sustained the hegemon and still does all these years. Does anyone really think that there would be no blowback from this kind of rhetoric? Racism and racial politics do not exist in a vacuum. There is a reason why the former Prime Minister is relying heavily on the DAP to provide him with his anti-racist credentials.
PKR and DAP’s Ketuanan Melayus
What the DAP has become is the fig leaf for the type of ‘ketuanan’ dogma that the Najib refuseniks hope will cause enough rifts within the Malay community that would cause Umno to implode from within and enable them to pick up the pieces when the dust clears. In other words, the DAP has become those best friends in the “I am not racist as some of my best friends are black people” defence.
Like I said, in another piece, Mahathir could be the Trump vote – “Trump used every bigoted trick in the book, from demonising Muslims to scaremongering about a ‘Mexican’ menace to warning about the yellow peril all because of a weak entrenched political establishment. The de facto opposition leader is doing the same thing now – pointing out compromised trade deals made by a weak potentate and the threat of ‘foreign’ migration. As with Trump, he camouflages these with legitimate economic and social anxieties. And like Trump, he has a diverse coalition of ideologically disparate power groups working with him to destroy the establishment.”
What has Trump been doing since he won and promised to drain the swamp? Simple, he has been placating the far-right elements of the GOP (Grand Old Party, or the Republicans) while attempting to maintain the status quo and re-energise a divided GOP.
Hopefully this will not sound familiar.
S THAYAPARAN is Commander (Rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy.