August 4, 2018
A Foxy Political Partnership In Malaysia
by Francis Paul Siah
COMMENT |Let me be clear at the outset. The term “cunning foxes” is not meant in the derogatory manner, but as a salutary description of two of Malaysia’s foremost veteran leaders.
Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and Anwar Ibrahim are the duo who matter most in the country today. They are the supreme leaders, whether you recognise them as such or not and whether you support them or not.
It’s heartening to note that even the majority in the opposition hatiove come around to accept that the Mahathir-Anwar combination is what matters. At least, that seems to be the case.
Except for a few rabble-rousers in UMNO criticising the Pakatan Harapan leadership, most senior leaders within the opposition ranks have largely refrained from lashing out at Mahathir or Anwar, and rightly so.
Together, Mahathir and Anwar call the shots. What they do or say has a bearing on the direction the nation is heading. The mistakes they make will have dire consequences too.
On them lay the hopes and dreams of the majority of Malaysians, for the next five years at least.
In “The Political Animals At Large”, a political intelligence piece written by Don Morley and David Bancroft-Turner, the fox symbolises the most outstanding and perhaps necessary trait of powerful politicians. Or what is needed for them to hold on to power.
“Cunning, sly and clever, foxes know their way around. They are really quite adept at negotiating the corridors of power, getting support and being tuned in to the bigger picture. They recognise and take advantage of the weaknesses of others in order to get ahead and further their cause”.
But it also sounds a warning.
“Unfortunately, it is ‘their cause’ that they invariably put first in their decisions and strategies. The objectives of the organisation tend to be neglected, even ignored when it suits”.
In the light of recent events involving Mahathir and Anwar, let us take a closer look at the warning.
Although both men are supposed to be tied together in their organisation, Pakatan Harapan, it is perhaps their personal “causes” that come first when making decisions with the objectives of Harapan being ignored. Indeed, the warning is not way off.
Now, what are the more personal causes of Mahathir and Anwar?
Man in hurry
At 93, Mahathir is a man in a hurry. He was forced to make a return to politics in order to fix the ills of the nation. He knows his time is limited and does not wish to be distracted. That’s fair enough.
Meanwhile, Anwar is getting edgy. Although he does not openly say it, we can sense his impatience to become the next Prime Minister.
Hey, who doesn’t want to fulfill a lifelong ambition as quickly as possible? So, we cannot fault Anwar’s impatience here. He was just a heartbeat away from the pinnacle of power in the past. Now, he is so near again, yet so far.
This is his second and possibly last chance at a shot at the premiership. Any one of us in Anwar’s shoes would do all within our might to ensure that we do not falter at this final shot at the top prize.
The glaring difference between Anwar and Mahathir now is that Anwar has to consolidate himself within his party, PKR. Mahathir couldn’t be bothered about his future in his newly formed Bersatu. He is already the boss and he doesn’t have to fight anyone for a party position.
Anwar is only the PKR de facto leader in name – he has yet to hold an official party post and is expected to go for the party presidency in the coming party elections.
Enter PKR Deputy President Mohd Azmin Ali at this stage, and everyone gets worked up. Many are disappointed and disillusioned with such intrigues within the Harapan coalition so soon after savouring a sweet GE14 victory. Even a single coalition party in disarray is a big damper.
So the rumour mill has started churning too, faster than we could catch our breath. Mahathir is using Azmin to control Anwar, and to put the PKR de factor leader in his place. Anwar is unhappy with Azmin and is putting up Rafizi Ramli to thwart the ascent of his once-protégé private secretary but now overly ambitious minister.
Anwar has also purportedly described Azmin as a Mahathir barua (lackey), if a leaked audio recording is to be believed.
No smoke without fire
For those of us who know better, we can conclude there is no smoke without fire. Why? The internal feud in PKR is now out in the open. Rafizi has already assembled his team as he eyes the deputy presidency. And he had made it official with a public announcement. So what else is new to many of us?
Many in Harapan, PKR in particular, are just very ordinary politicians (there is no statesmanship caliber in any of them at all). They were shouting “Reformasi” when not in power. Now, they are in power, they want more power to entrench themselves politically. Sad, isn’t it?
As for Mahathir and Anwar, let me state a fact. No one knows Anwar better than Mahathir, and perhaps it’s also true that no one knows Mahathir better than Anwar. Well, apart from their spouses, possibly.
A Malaysian friend living abroad summed it up best when I asked him for his opinion on the Mahathir-Anwar partnership.
“Cunning foxes or not, we have to live with them for now. But I would want both Dr Mahathir and Anwar to be out of the scene completely – the sooner, the better. Drum into Malaysians that the world can exist quite well without them.
“The same goes for many of those lazing around on the opposition benches in Parliament, wasting taxpayers’ money. When will politicians ever learn that they are not wanted anymore? Shame, shame!”
I couldn’t agree more.
FRANCIS PAUL SIAH heads the Movement for Change, Sarawak (MoCS) and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.