Message to Pakatan Harapan Politicians–Stop the Blame Game

November 16,2018

Message to Pakatan Harapan Politicians–Stop the Blame Game


“It is much more important to kill bad bills than to pass good ones.”
– Calvin Coolidge, former US President

COMMENT | Now-retired Council of Eminent Persons (CEP) chairperson Daim Zainuddin’s rejoinder to the Pakatan Harapan government to stop playing the blame game is one of the more honest moments the establishment has had since gaining power on May 9.

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“It has got to a point where every time the new government is waffling, demurring or flat-out reneging on their campaign promises or proposing unpopular policies, they blame the former UMNO regime.”

The minority (voters) who voted the previous government out do indeed know why they are happy to see the fall of UMNO, but for the majority Malays who voted for UMNO and PAS, all they see is the new administration blaming those whom they voted for.

They read about partisans who mock the UMNO  base, even though the Malay power structures in Harapan are desperate to shore up Malay support with the elected reps from the disgraced Najib regime.

Part of this is because of the platform that Harapan ran on. Before joining Harapan, Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, in various interviews, claimed that the primary goal was to remove a kleptocrat and that there were other “issues” that he could work with the coalition on, but which were secondary.

When he formally joined Harapan, he had to sublimate his own baggage of autocratic tendencies to work out a compromise with brokers in the coalition, that included a host of issues that were related to reforming the system.

He had to do this because his Bersatu was literally a newborn, while the other partners in the coalition, excluding Amanah, already had an established  base with ideas of institutional reforms which would truly save Malaysia. The formation of Bersatu itself was one of racial necessity, or at least this was the coalition’s party line.

Remember, it was not as if systemic corruption was unheard of in Malaysia. It is pointless dragging up the polemics of the then opposition when it came to the corruption and abuse of power during Mahathir’s regime.

Image result for daim mahathir

The fact is that Najib’s regime corruption was so blatant, the regime’s attempt to stifle dissent so heavy-handed and its attempts to shore up Malay-Muslim support so detrimental to non-Malay interests, that a sufficiently diverse minority was moved to replace UMNO-BN.

When Daim says that Harapan needs to fulfil its election manifesto, the reality is that the current Prime Minister has admitted that the campaign manifesto is a fiction based on the belief that the coalition could not win this election. In other words, it was a “say anything” manifesto.

This, of course, was met with blowback from other Harapan coalition members, but the cynicism of the old maverick’s statement is the kind of realpolitik that he and his kind of politicians have trafficked for decades.

Blaming a kleptocrat is easy. The real problem starts when the Harapan regime has to differentiate itself from the UMNO regime. This is where the trouble starts. It started when Harapan began waffling about removing certain laws.

Indeed, anecdotally speaking, there are more Harapan political operatives, Malay and non-Malay, who want election promises kept – or so they tell me – than the politburo of Harapan, which has never failed to find an opportunity to blame the former regime for Harapan’s lack of political will to carry out eforms

This is not that straw man argument about giving the coalition more time. There are already apologists who claim that the 100-day promises are a burden too heavy to carry. This is about outright not fulfilling promises and cynically expecting the base to support such decisions.

The shackles of reforms

And this is the problem right here. We are dealing with politicians whose currency is autocracy and a supplicating base, which was the norm for decades. These so-called reforms in the Harapan manifesto are in reality shackles for politicians who are used to dealing with the public, not as servants of the state, but rather as potentates to be followed.

Part of this is partisan politics, of course. These days, Mahathir has a loyal following in the Harapan political elite and amongst a certain segment of the Harapan base.

Image result for Tok PA



He gets to accept someone like Mustapa Mohamed – better known as Tok Pa – into Bersatu, claiming that the criteria for such entry was that Tok Pa had been cowed when it came to standing up to Najib. One assumes, I suppose, that his cowardice evaporates before the majesty of Mahathir and he will suddenly discover the strength to fight for his constituents now that he is in Bersatu.

When Cynthia Gabriel of the Governance, Integrity, Accountability and Transparency (Giat) coalition threatens to name and shame establishment politicians who do not declare their full assets and not just their incomes, she is vilified on social media.

Gabriel is just doing her job like she was when she was speaking truth to UMNO power, but now, she is vilified. One Harapan political operative even emailed me asking where “she gets her funding from.”

Before May 9, when Gabriel had said the same when she was raging against UMNO hegemony, Harapan partisans were ready to canonise her. This same political operative was worrying about her safety.

Image result for cynthia gabriel

As for what she thinks of her job, Gabriel said it all here, when she accepted the US-based National Endowment for Democracy’s (NED) 2017 Democracy Award: “This is not something (in which) we can just say ‘enough’, or it’s time to shirk away and do nothing about it. It is important to stay the course, fight the good fight, it is important to seek the truth.”

You see, what is important is not just removing the kleptocrat. What differentiated Harapan from UMNO-BN was those promises in the manifesto which curtailed executive power, restored individual freedoms, reformed public institutions, and, most importantly, curtailed the power of the state security apparatus to hamper all of the above.

I mean, for a time there was talk of hate speech laws. This from a coalition which was targeted by the Umno state using instruments of the state for speaking truth to power. At a time when the Harapan government were waffling on repealing laws which limited our freedoms, there was actually talk of creating new laws which did the same.

Then, of course, Mahathir says this for justifying the retention of the Official Secrets Act 1972: “The law is not perfect. It is open to abuse, but you hope to find people who will not break the law, who will obey the rule of law. That is what is important.

“The last government did not follow the rule of law. They did what they liked with the law. The main thing is to find a government that will not break the laws.”

Does anyone really think that we have found a government which does not break laws?

S THAYAPARAN is Commander (Rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.


10 thoughts on “Message to Pakatan Harapan Politicians–Stop the Blame Game

  1. The fact is Mahathir political career is one based on big issue – first it was his social engineering and development of Malays but inevitably also Malaysia. The tools he used was blunt – his best critics always said so. So is it a surprise, that he uses crude manifesto to do his Act 2?

    So now we are at Act 2 and the fallen UMNO/BN is biting at them even as they struggle for their own self-preservation and future. What is so suprising its problematic and some dissapointment? Fact is, it is good dissapointment has come so fast, six months after they won. Now the serious work can get going as PH realize they must deliver. Who does not know the “blame game” must stop eventually?

    Fact is it will be Anwar’s job to deliver once he take over and head for GE-15. The warnings better go to Anwar, PKR and Amanah. Bersatu is going to be without Mahathir and Muhiyiddin, even if he survives his personal health, is not going to challenge Anwar and PKR leadership.. It is PKR-Amanah and DAP is just the consultant and the Hadi-led blame game.

  2. In politics the incoming government takes on the good and bad done by the previous government. The new government has to identify the problems and find ways and means to solve it. Hence, it is ok to remind us the citizens as to the origin of the problem.

  3. In politics the incoming government takes on the good and bad done by the previous government. The new government has to identify the problems and find ways and means to solve it. Hence, it is ok to remind us the citizens as to the origin of the problem.

  4. UMNO past, UMNO present and UMNO future. All will try to protect their own kind.
    Crime and corruption are evels which need to be eradicates, so let us do it even if we have to repeat the message for a thousand years. It is not blame game and neither is it a game. It is serious moral default. Don’t let any half past 6 convince you otherwise.

  5. I wish I can express and explain so well as Thaya. I am so disorganised in my visions ,thoughts and expressions for the better of my country, our country and our comrades, fellow Malaysians. I would really find difficulty to string a piece with such clarity and asking straight and searching questions.
    Most meaningful and inspiring.

    PH government should take note .
    The bottom line is ,” Like All Trade Protectism, None can win or gain in the Blame Games on the Past Regime – appropriately, the PAST REGIMES ”

    Eventually, the innocent Malaysians are the lossers !

  6. Six months into government to fix decades of bad leadership and policies and gross mismanagement could not be considered a blame game.

    You need to come to a starting point so that the voters/taxpayers could blame the current pack ( PH ). eg. debt is 1 trillion now. At the next GE, is 1.5 trillion. Then make decision to get rid of them, if taxpayers’ money is not properly spent and and economy is growing fast enough to create real jobs – not government jobs.

    • The voter/taxpayer must be alert to discern wrongdoing by whichever party and that is how democracy work. It is wrong to assign the quest for justice as the “Blame Game” Wrongs must be right and the rule of law restored.

    • Maslee Malik with his UMNO genes is a disgrace to Malaysia. School are education institutions and must be freed from politics. Black shoes, white shoes are only pandering to the culture of laziness. WHAT HAS HE DONE TO SALVAGE THE EDUCATION SYSTEM?

  7. Sure !
    Make and implement the ” rule of law ” works effectively and swiftly, and the broken judiciary fully repaired with priority.

    Those found to have commited of wrong doings (abuse of power , corruptions, money laundering, etc …, should be charged quickly and competently.

    If found guilty, severely punished, whether from past, previous and present regimes.

    ” Blame games” is never a game that one can win.

    Not condoning Najib, perhaps the one blessing in many disguises or cover-ups ,he and his regime were allegedly charged of crimes that were openely and blatantly commited that shown the ways the previous regimes wrong doings were uncovered and opened up for public scrutiny.

    That will need more hard work in addition to just almost restricted mainly to 1 MDB.

    So, very good reasons PH to Start Working and Stop Blame where the people will born losers.

  8. In short,
    he unwittingly opened up most of the worms from the cans of almost every those committed alleged wrong doings or huge scandalous losses from his and past regimes .

    PH will suffer the same fate if it can’t deliver.

    The people had no or little choice, so they had to first, voted him out of Putrsjaya, and think again come Ge 15.

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