Anwar-Mahathir joint statement against NSC

September 20, 2016

Anwar-Mahathir joint statement against NSC

 by FMT Reporters

Opposition leader stresses the present, not past, is his main concern following daughter’s push for apology from Dr Mahathir Mohamad.


Jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim and his former mentor-turned-nemesis Dr Mahathir Mohamad have issued a joint statement against the National Security Council (NSC) Act.

The statement, which was confirmed by Anwar himself, voices concern that the NSC is a threat to democracy in the country. “We notice that almost all institutions in the country, such as the police, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), the Attorney-General and Bank Negara are fully under Prime Minister Najib Razak’s control.”

The two former UMNO leaders said that the NSC denies the right of slain officers or civilians to a post-mortem to determine their cause of death, adding this will lead to higher chances of wrongdoing.


“This act has cast aside the role and powers of the Yang DiPertuan Agong and the Council of Malay Rulers in the realm of public safety and freedom.”

Thus, Anwar and Mahathir said they were united with the people to fight the NSC, and to bring change and reform to protect the rights and freedoms of Malaysians and to bring progress to Malaysia once more.

Anwar told reporters when met at the High Court here today (September 19) that the joint statement is a good initiative. He also responded to questions regarding his daughter, Nurul Nuha Anwar, asking Mahathir to apologise for the latter’s transgressions against him in the past.

“The problem is that all of this happened so sudden. I had no opportunity to speak to my children.I  have explained it to my children. It is enough. We have suffered immensely.”

Last week, Nurul Nuha had urged Mahathir to own up for his accusations and other actions that led to her father’s arrest and conviction for sodomy and corruption in 1998.

Anwar said his concern now was the present, and that he was appreciative of Mahathir’s support against the NSC, adding that “reformasi” is still important. When asked whether he had forgiven Mahathir, Anwar responded by saying that he had forgiven a lot of people.

On September 5, Mahathir turned up at the Kuala Lumpur High Court to show his support for Anwar’s suit against the government over the NSC. It was the first time in 18 years that the two adversaries had met.

The Handshake that can rattle the beleaguered Al-Kebas aka Malaysian Official 1

September 6, 2016

The Handshake that can rattle the beleaguered Al-Kebas aka Malaysian Official 1

by Abdar Rahman Koya

A reconciliation between Anwar and Mahathir can ignite the spark needed to address the opposition’s biggest weakness: political lethargy and incoherence.

Image result for Anwar meets Mahathir

For those of us whose exposure to Malaysian politics began in 1998, yesterday’s handshake between Mahathir Mohamad and Anwar Ibrahim was surreal and, of course, historic.

Eighteen years ago, the forty-something among us today had just graduated into a volatile economy, only to find ourselves thrust into the streets every Saturday afternoon punching the air and shouting slogans demanding Mahathir’s resignation.

Young adults of that era would have moved on today, getting busy with bread and butter issues and probably having to deal with protests by their young ones that would now and then flare up at home.

Yet, most will agree that the 1998-1999 period was the best of times and the worst of times for Malaysia.

It was during this period that Kuala Lumpur witnessed some of the largest anti-government rallies in its history, and they came at a time when it was taboo to even mention the idea of toppling Mahathir, someone who had given himself the image of the Great Leader.

A rare explosion of opposition rallied under one leader armed with his charisma and singled out another leader as the source of all of the country’s ills. It struck a chord that has kept playing for 18 years, during which time Anwar and Mahathir proved themselves to be the two toughest nuts in Malaysian politics.

Giving credit where it’s due, Anwar with his countless charges and court appearances, and now serving a second imprisonment, has remained committed to his cause. And it doesn’t matter that he has a personal ambition to be prime minister or that he has shown incorrigible optimism in an opposition force that has repeatedly proven to be dysfunctional if not in disarray.

Image result for Al Kebas Malaysian Official 1

Mahathir, on the other hand, has come up from being a symbol of hatred among the Malays for his treatment of Anwar to someone who left office retaining much of the goodwill he gained during Malaysia’s rise as an economic powerhouse in the mid-nineties, when mega structures gave tell-tale signs of an economic bubble waiting to burst.

The institutionalisation of Mahathir in Malaysian politics means that no matter what he does or says, his legacy will be hard to erase.

The present administration knows this too well. It is after all saddled with his legacies, which have become national symbols, whether or not they are failures or successes, Proton being one example and Putrajaya another.

The truth is that Mahathir is not going away easily from the Malaysian conscience. His is a legacy solidly kept within concrete walls, not unlike the time capsule he cleverly planted behind a plaque with his name on it at the Kuala Lumpur Tower. And then there are the many other mega structures that so characterised his rule, all probably containing messages he wrote that a future prime minister may be forced to read out long after his demise.

Image result for kuala lumpur skyline wallpaper day

Now that the two greatest political animals have met and made amends, the question to be asked is: At what price? It is true both are driven by a sense of desperation, but remember that in politics, desperation can be a necessity.

Will the Anwar-Mahathir handshake lead to an explosion of nostalgia from that large segment of the population that is composed of those who have lived much of their lives under their leadership?

Image result for kuala lumpur Tower

If there is this nostalgia and if a Anwar-Mahathir rapprochement succeeds in exploiting it, it is time for the other camp to be worried and not simply dismiss the two as political has-beens trying to jump start an engine which has rusted.

Nostalgia has worked wonders before, sometimes with dire consequences, of course. Many political movements all over the world have been fueled by remembrances of glorious pasts. For example, the Taliban’s longing for medieval times once took Afghanistan by storm, and Hitler’s drum beating of a great race led to his meteoric rise.

Nostalgia today is replayed again in Europe. Indeed, nowhere was its potential more mistakenly dismissed than when Britons voted in droves to get out of the European Union last June.

It is this type of nostalgia that the Najib administration should be worried about, now that the 91-year-old Mahathir has taken the trouble to see his nemesis.

This is not merely the coming together of two leaders who have fought from opposite poles and stood the test of time, but potentially the ignition of the spark needed to address the opposition’s biggest weakness: political lethargy.

If Najib dismisses the handshake as anything less than it was, it will be to his own peril.

Who’s afraid of Dr M?

August 18, 2016

Who’s afraid of Dr M?

Cmdr(rtd) S.Thayaparan

My strong suspicion is we get the world we deserve.”

– Ray Velcoro in ‘True Detective’

In my last article, I made three points. The first, that the creation of another Malay power structure was unproductive and what the Najib refuseniks “need to do is work with the opposition without causing any more political fissures”.

The second was that “having the same interests [in removing Najib] and ‘not repeating the mistakes of the past’ are mutually exclusive”. The third, to “radicalise the Malay community by advocating ideas that would make any red shirt-clad Malay nationalist quiver with rage because it comes from former UMNO power brokers.”

I would like to elaborate on these three points because I am an outlier “keling” and sometimes, something more is needed than just “podah”. By registering this new ‘Malay’ political party, former Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin is attempting to do what political prisoner Anwar Ibrahim failed to do.

Do not get me wrong, Anwar had much success in changing the political landscape of this country but he did not manage to galvanise the Malay vote to the point where PKR alone, up to a point until Anwar landed in Sungei Buloh, was a credible alternative to UMNO.

This is why PKR’s over reliance on PAS has resulted in the neutering of the oppositional front. However, the charges that this is “just another racist party” are disingenuous considering the ethos of the so-called alternative pact. From a purely descriptive stance, there are only multiracial opposition parties in Malaysia. In substance, these parties are either pandering to the Malay vote or outright concerning themselves with furthering the agenda of the ‘Malay’ polity to sustain political survival.

Therefore, what we have in the Peninsular are mainstream Malay power structures like UMNO and PAS, a political party like PKR whose leadership has publicly stated that the Malay vote is paramount to their survival hence political rhetoric and policy decisions are based on the sensitivities and preoccupations of this particular community.

Meanwhile, DAP continues to seek ways to increase its Malay membership in an effort to shed its so-called Chinese chauvinistic image, only to be hampered by operatives suffering from foot-in-mouth disease, an epidemic that the DAP leadership seems reluctant to confront.

The idea that this new Malay political party could galvanise the rural Malay vote is misguided. About the so-called “rural vote”, I said this in a piece on the recently concluded by-elections – “So if UMNO delivers everything it says it will deliver, the cycle of complicity will continue. Disenfranchised people will continue voting for a regime which puts rice in their bowls. I am not talking about the urban class but rather those people who have depended on real power, federal power exercised corruptly for their benefit. That is the culture some people forget that we are dealing with. We nurtured this culture.”

The only way this new party is going to get the rural Malay vote is to outspend UMNO or to destabilise the UMNO state level machinery. The latter is possible considering the Mahathir sympathisers within UMNO but unless this new party is willing to commit massive sums, the idea of outspending the King of Cash is ludicrous.

A shared goal

My second point is where it gets messy. The agenda of removing the current UMNO Prime Minister, which no doubt is a shared goal, and with reforming the system, are unfortunately (in my book) mutually exclusive. Many of my friends have taken exception to this statement arguing that they are not mutually exclusive. I sympathise with their argument and indeed in the past have put forward the same argument.

An Indian opposition supporter sent me an email, questioning how I could advocate the opposition working with Mahathir after he used the “keling” word. The first thing I did was send him links of every racist or bigoted utterings of oppositional political figures and asked how could I sincerely advocate for the opposition?

This is not meant as some sort of apologia on behalf of the former prime minster but rather that nobody in Malaysia get to ride on his or her high horse. Political adversaries working together is unfortunately what democracy is all about and this has nothing to with having a saviour – an unfortunate straw man – but capitalising on political and resources to overcome a political foe who is turning this country into another failed Islamic state.

Concerning ideas that “correct past mistakes”, what new ideas have the opposition actually advocated? The New Economic Policy (NEP) is redefined as class-based with the provision that the ‘Malay’ community as the majority will benefit the most. Supposedly secular parties fund Islamic organisations in an effort to get more ‘Malay’ votes.

Academics that propose equal opportunity laws or advocate ideas that slay communal scared cows are vilified as “idealists” and lectured on the “reality of our political system” or reminded that UMNO is the biggest racist party ever when in substance; their preferred political alliance operates in the same if subtle manner.

In one of my numerous pieces about the racial game here in Malaysia, I wrote, “In addition, this idea that voting across racial lines as some sort of evidence of burgeoning multiracial solidarity is complete bunkum. The real test is when people vote across ethnic and religious lines in support of ideologies that run counter to the interests of their communities and by this I mean egalitarian ideas that run afoul of constitutional sacred cows and social and religious dogma.”

Indeed, opposition parties like to promote the idea that they have dropped their racial and cultural baggage but the reality is that political expediency wins out every single time because people say one thing but do and mean another. I am referring to the voting public and not only politicians.

With regards to PAS and DAP, I wrote this: “The old PAS and the old DAP were offering up ideological alternatives to Barisan National that the voting public rejected for various reasons. I would argue that the DAP and PAS of old were more ideologically pure than they are now but that is a story for another time.”

This brings me to my final point, radicalising the Malay community. I have written how the non-Malay community played a big part in the mess we find ourselves by sustaining Umno all these years. I also concede that the opposition for whatever reasons is chasing the Malay vote at the expense of egalitarian ideas, therefore offering no real alternative for Malaysians to take refuge in, intellectually and spiritually.

In a piece praising PKR operative Wan Ji Wan Hussin, I wrote, “I have always been sceptical of the opposition and downright scornful of the UMNO establishment. While UMNO during elections season attempts to bribe non-Muslims with goodies – and it is open season on non-Muslims when votes need not be counted – the religious politics of the opposition has been a mess of political opportunism and homages to political correctness. Neither approach is suitable for the long-term social and political stability of Malaysia.”

We have had many Malaysians who champion egalitarian ideas. PSM for instance is one such political organisation that states their ideas and goals clearly but observe how they are treated by the average opposition supporter and intelligentsia.

Therefore, I know where I stand politically and hopefully some readers do too. In one of my earlier pieces, I wrote about how the Indian community should slay some of their scared cows. I also wrote of the DAP and the Chinese community, which was met with howls of racist indignation.

I will not be held responsible for whatever problems facing the ‘Malay’ community using the “we are all Malaysians” argument. Malays should speak up for themselves, demand leadership from their own community much like how minorities everywhere in the world demand it. Do not blame the existential crisis of the Malay community on the non-Malays and use the idea of a Malaysian identity as short hand to circumvent hard questions about one’s own community.

I would argue that every minority community in this country has done its share of soul searching and even though we may find fault in what they have discovered or are discovering, this idea – actually, I would use the term propaganda that being “Malaysian” means ignoring race and culture in favour of bromides – is the kool aid Malaysia does not need.

Time to replace Wan Azizah as Opposition Leader

New York

June 25, 2016

Time  to replace Wan Azizah as Opposition Leader

by Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman

Progress can only come when we put aside our ideological biases and acknowledge the truth despite its inconvenience. The opposition is fractured, weak, disorganised and perceptually unfit to take on UMNO-Barisan Nasional (BN). The results of the two by-elections prove this.

In Sungai Besar, UMNO-BN won with a 9,191-vote majority. In Kuala Kangsar, Barisan Nasional (BN) won with a majority of 6,969 votes. The majority BN obtained increased by almost tenfold. This despite the scandal-ridden Prime Minister leading the government. Even Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s showing couldn’t close the obvious cracks in the opposition movement.

The prospect of a snap election is real. We see UMNO veterans like Raja Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin and Musa Hitam urging this. The Malaysian Prime Minister himself released a statement stating that he will examine this option thoroughly. While the 14th general election is knocking on our doors, the Leader of the Opposition, Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, is incapable of leading  the coalition  to Putrajaya.

This was evident when she was first thrust into the limelight as the Leader of Opposition in 2015, inheriting the spot from her husband, Anwar Ibrahim. She was immediately tasked to be the uniting force between the splintering opposition parties, namely DAP and PAS.

When Anwar was the Leader of the Opposition, he successfully united the opposition parties despite almost insurmountable obstacles placed in his way. No one would imagine that PAS and DAP could work side-by-side during GE-13, yet Dato’Seri Anwar made that possible. Despite numerous ‘hudud enticements’ thrown at PAS, Anwar was still able to glue the opposition parties together.

“Wan Azizah couldn’t fill the shoes of her husband”–Syed Saddiq.

This is in stark contrast to Wan Azizah whose allegedly weak leadership formented the disunity among the opposition parties. During the ‘Kajang Move’, PAS President Abdul Hadi Awang came out in the open and said that PAS opposed Azizah as Menteri Besar simply because she is a weak leader.

One of the primary reasons why PAS left was because of the prospect of DAP’s dominance of Malaysia. Anwar was able to prove to PAS that as a Malay-Muslim who once led the successful Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (ABIM), he was capable of offsetting  possible power imbalances in the opposition pact.

Unfortunately, Wan Azizah couldn’t fill the shoes of her husband. I do acknowledge that it’s not purely her fault, however, as the Leader of Opposition and quite possibly the future Prime Minister of Malaysia, she should be held to higher standard. A strong replacement was needed, but the rakyat didn’t get one.

YB Wan Azizah also doesn’t inject the much-needed ‘wow’ factor which Anwar commands. Just observe any of her political speeches and you’ll know what I mean. The fact that she rarely gives any political speeches is indicative of this.

An Opposition Leader must inspire to lead

She didn’t make much of an appearance during the BERSIH rallies and the two by-elections. You’ll see her doing walkabouts, but that’s as far as it gets. She won’t speak at big rallies and even if she does, she lacks the charisma which other prominent politicians command. An opposition leader must inspire to lead. We see Azmin Ali, Rafizi Ramli and Nurul Izzah Anwar injecting the much-needed ‘wow’ factor, but seldom do we see Azizah doing the same.

Political science lecturers Dr Arnold Puyok from Universiti Malaysia Sarawak and Prof. Dr Samsul Adabi Mamat of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia gave scathing reviews of Dr Wan Azizah. Puyok pointed out that Dr Wan Azizah remains in Anwar’s shadow while Samsul noted that she has none of his charisma that had helped bridge the gap among the three parties, especially between ideological opposites PAS and DAP in 2008 and 2013.

Even as the President of PKR, she has failed to unite the party. Party insiders talk of the rift between Rafizi and Azmin which culminated in what could possibly be another ‘Kajang Move’ to replace Azmin as the Menteri Besar. These divisions didn’t just exist recently. Instead it has been there since Azmin was appointed as Menteri Besar of Selangor. After more than one year, the party still remains  divided.

What infuriates the public is the fact that the opposition led by Azizah cannot get its own party sorted out despite the scandals which overshadow the BN-run government. While BN is weak and vulnerable, the opposition still can’t execute the death blow due to its own incompetency and disunity.

I can’t imagine what she has to go through as a wife to a jailed husband and a matriarch to one of the most influential political dynasties in Malaysia. I do sympathise. But sympathy won’t give her the key to Putrajaya. Over-reliance on her husband’s legacy will also not give her the key to Putrajaya.

Pakatan Harapan needs to find a suitable candidate before it is too late. If they don’t, they won’t not only fail to capture Putrajaya, but also they might even lose Selangor and Penang to Barisan Nasional.


The Plot thickens in PKR sans Anwar Ibrahim

May 31, 2016

The Plot thickens in PKR sans Anwar Ibrahim

by Raja Petra Kamaruddin

Mahathir’s plans are wider than just ousting Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and making his son, Mukhriz, the Prime Minister. It also includes helping Azmin Ali to take over as the PKR President, helping Lim Guan Eng escape jail, plus making sure that his man takes over as the new Kelantan Menteri Besar

AAA or triple stands for the ‘Attack Azmin Ali’ campaign. After ousting previous Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim, it is now time to bring down the current Selangor Menteri Besar Dato Seri Azmin Ali.

When Malaysia Today first revealed Azmin’s February 22, 2015 meeting with Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in London, not many batted an eyelid. That was because Anwar Ibrahim and those in his inner circle — such as his team of political strategists (see the photograph below) — already knew about the meeting. In fact, it was Anwar who had asked Azmin to fly to London to meet Mahathir.

PKR Strategists

But Azmin was supposed to meet Mahathir to talk about a deal of mutual benefit. Basically it was supposed to be a win-win deal. Pakatan would support Mahathir’s ANC (Anti-Najib Campaign) while Mahathir, in turn, would support Anwar’s FAC (Free Anwar Campaign).

However, Azmin never once raised the issue of Anwar. They just discussed how the opposition can support Mahathir’s bid to oust Najib with no discussion at all on Mahathir also supporting the bid to appeal for a pardon for Anwar so that he not only can be freed from jail but would also qualify to re-enter politics without first having to go through a five-year ban.

In short, the deal was to make it possible for Anwar to be able to contest the 2018 general election in two years’ time instead of having to wait till 2028 when he would be 81 years old before legally being allowed to contest the general election. Azmin was supposed to discuss with Mahathir how they could ‘buy’ Anwar the ten years he needed so that he could re-enter politics when he is still 71 instead of having to wait till he is 81.

Azmin, however, did not do this. He discussed everything and all sorts of things with Mahathir except for that one very important thing that Anwar wanted them to discuss. And that one very important thing was Anwar’s freedom so that he could came back as the de facto Opposition Leader and also contest the next general election in 2018, both which are now pies in the sky.

But then this was what Malaysia Today wrote more than a year ago. And Malaysia Today always lies. It never tells the truth. So no one, either Anwar or those four ‘political strategists’ in the photograph above, took any notice of what Malaysia Today wrote.

And then, as time went on, they started to realise that Malaysia Today was not ‘talking kok’ as they first thought after all. Malaysia Today was implying (or maybe even alleging) that Azmin had sold out Anwar and was attempting to replace Anwar with Mahathir as the new de facto Opposition Leader. But that would never happen because Azmin would bend over backwards for Anwar if need be (figure of speech of course and not literally) — or so they thought.

Today, that assumption has changed. And it changed not because Malaysia Today revealed 15 months ago about what Azmin discussed with Mahathir in London. It changed because Azmin himself has proven that Mahathir and not Anwar is his boss.

But then Azmin cannot help himself. That was the promise Azmin made to be able to become the Selangor Menteri Besar — that he would dump Anwar and not serve Anwar any longer. But whom did Azmin make this promise to? To who did Azmin promise that if he were appointed the Selangor Menteri Besar he would no longer serve Anwar or pledge loyalty to Anwar but would dump Anwar?

Yes, a most interesting question, don’t you think so? And I am sure some of you already suspect who that person is. Nevertheless, I am not going to mention his name just yet although I cannot promise you that some time in the future I will reveal who that person is. Suffice to say that Azmin got the job as Selangor Menteri Besar on the agreement that he must turn his back on Anwar.

And Azmin delivered his promise, although only 18 months later, by ousting Anwar as the de facto Opposition Leader and by not getting Mahathir to agree to a pardon for Anwar and by supporting Mahathir as the new de facto Opposition Leader to replace Anwar.

Anwar plus his four political strategists in the photograph above now know that Azmin has sold them out. At first they also excitedly supported Mahathir’s ‘Save Malaysia’ campaign and the Citizens’ Declaration. But when they realised that the ‘Save Malaysia’ campaign was really about making Mukhriz Mahathir the next Prime Minister and that it did not include allowing Anwar to walk out of the Sungai Buloh Prison, they launched the AAA or ‘Attack Azmin Ali’ campaign.

Azmin has his own ambition. And his ambition is to no longer walk in Anwar’s shadow and to continue to be called ‘Anwar’s boy’. Azmin wants to be the new PKR party president. But to win the party presidency he needs to abandon Anwar and his family. He needs to show he is his own man and not ‘Anwar’s boy’.

The alarm bells were first triggered when Azmin started talking about his ‘relationship’ with Mahathir and how blood is thicker than water and how the past is the past and we should let bygones be bygones and forgive and forget, and so on. This was a far cry to the Mahathir is penghianat negara and the most corrupt Prime Minister in history, and should be hounded until lubang cacing, and so on, during the Reformasi days.

So now the AAA campaign is on. First Anwar wrote that very damaging letter from prison which appeared to be attacking Mahathir but was actually attacking Azmin. And then Rafizi leaked the allegation of corruption, that involved ‘supplying women’ as well, committed by a certain unnamed person in the Selangor government.

Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail has asked Rafizi to go lodge a report with the MACC, which he is going to do next week. We can only assume that Rafizi has enough evidence or else he would not have made that expose and would not be going to meet the MACC next week.

By the way, Rafizi and the other three in the photograph above were the same ‘political strategists’ who were behind the earlier Kajang Move to bring down Khalid Ibrahim. And they are also the same four behind the AAA campaign to bring down Azmin Ali. Just when I thought 2015 was the most interesting year in a long time, 2016 may yet prove to be more exciting.

Oh, and this is not all. While all this is going on, the Penang Chief Minister, Lim Guan Eng, is also making his deal with Mahathir, just like Azmin is. Guan Eng knows he cannot escape the corruption charge involving his house so he is getting Mahathir to help get the MACC to back off.

Mahathir is able to tell the MACC what to do so Guan Eng needs Mahathir’s help to escape jail. That is why DAP is 100% behind Mahathir’s ‘Save Malaysia’ campaign and Mahathir’s Citizens’ Declaration — plus also supports the move to make Mukhriz the next Prime Minister if they can first of all oust Najib somehow.

And what about Kelantan? Yes, of course Mahathir has his fingers in the Kelantan pie as well. Mahathir is behind a certain PAS leader who might soon join Amanah and then become Mahathir’s candidate for the Menteri Besar of Kelantan. So Amanah had better get used to the idea that if Amanah or Pakatan Harapan manages to grab Kelantan from PAS, the man who is going to become the Kelantan Menteri Besar will be the man whom Mahathir says shall be Menteri Besar and not the man who Amanah wants as Menteri Besar.

Malaysia’s Opposition that Couldn’t Shoot Straight

May 21, 2016


Malaysia’s Opposition: The Gang that Couldn’t Shoot StraightAsia Sentinel | Asia Sentinel

by John Berthelsen

Malaysia’s opposition parties, disorganized, squabbling among themselves and fighting over power, have driven reformers to despair, with some who decline to be named saying they simply no longer want to bother working with them.

One top lawyer flatly called them a “bunch of idiots” and vowed to cease any relationship with them. “They just can’t help themselves,” said a businessman who asked to remain nameless. “They are all using each other to get where they want. Their egos are so big, they keep screwing each other up. The Sarawak episode [in which the opposition was drubbed in a state election] has made even the most optimistic guys pessimistic about the opposition’s chances in the next polls.”

The latest fiasco occurred this week when Rafizi Ramli, the Secretary-General of Parti Keadilan Rakyat, the party founded by now-imprisoned leader Anwar Ibrahim, apparently sent a WhatsApp message to a chat group alleging that members of the Selangor state government, which the opposition controls, had demanded sex and money during contract negotiations.

Azmin Ali doing Najib Razak a great favour

Azmin Ali, the Chief Minister of the Selangor government, for several months has been at odds with Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Anwar’s wife and the current party leader. Azmin is regarded by Wan Azizah’s forces as unduly ambitious and attempting to take over the party, which leads the coalition.

Whether the allegations of corruption are true or not, they are an indication of the fractured nature of not only PKR but the entire opposition, cobbled together by Anwar prior to the 2009 general election despite drastically differing aims. They included Anwar’s PKR, made up largely of urban Malays and refugees from the United Malays National Organization; the Chinese-dominated Democratic Action Party; and the rural-based, fundamentalist Islamic Parti Islam se-Malaysia( PAS).

With no common goals – indeed conflicting ones — the three parties share only a wish for power.  That has been a recipe for political disaster.

Anwar, a gifted politician, managed to keep the three together until he was imprisoned last year for the second time on trumped-up charges of sexual misconduct with a male aide.  The coalition’s high water mark was the 2013 general election, when it won 50.87 percent of the vote to 47.38 for the government coalition. However, gerrymandering preserved the government’s majority in Parliament.  It has been downhill ever since.

Malaysia is currently embroiled in one of the world’s biggest scandals, with the possibility that US$11.4 billion has gone missing from the government-backed 1Malaysia Development Bhd fund –whose economic advisory chairman is the Prime Minister, Najib Razak and who by statute had final say on investment decisions.

On top of that, the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), which leads the government, since Independence in 1957 has been little more than a vehicle to loot the state coffers for its leaders, many of whom have been bribed to keep Najib at the head of the party. His own family appears to be the target of a major investigation for money-laundering by the US Justice Department. At least five foreign governments are investigating money laundering charges surrounding 1MDB, Timothy Leissner, the former Southeast Asia chief for Goldman Sachs, has been named in newspapers as being investigated for complicity.

Thus if there were ever a time for the country’s long-suffering opposition to scent a chance to overthrow the old order, this ought to be it. Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who has played a role in bringing down three previous Prime Ministers, is leading the van in what he calls a Citizens’ Declaration to gather enough signatures to drive Najib from power. However, Anwar this week handwrote a letter from prison telling his followers not to trust Mahathir – the man who first orchestrated his imprisonment in 1998 on trumped-up charges of sexual misconduct.

Anwar himself stumbled in 2013 by driving out the previous Selangor Chief minister, Khalid Ibrahim, and forcing a by-election to make himself chief minister and give him a platform to attack the government.  Instead, he was charged with sexual misconduct and had to drop the plan. He then sought to use Wan Azizah as his surrogate, only to have that blocked by the Selangor Sultan, possibly at Azmin’s behest. Azmin followed by keeping PAS in the government despite the split over shariah after the party split in two. On top of that, the DAP has grimly fought PAS at every turn over the shariah and other issues.

The mess was never more starkly outlined than in recent state elections in the Borneo state of Sarawak, where the opposition was drubbed by state parties aligned with the government in Putrajaya. The Democratic Action Party and Parti Keadilan Rakyat contested each other in six state constituencies, splitting the vote and handing easy victories to an already-powerful Barisan headed by Adenan Satem, the Sarawak chief minister. The opposition came away with just 10 of 82 seats.

Tellingly, the Pakatan Rakyat coalition cobbled together by Anwar is now known as Pakatan Harapan (Hope Alliance) after PAS more than a year ago sundered into two parts, with conservatives driving out moderates over the issue of implementation of Sharia law in the eastern state of Kelantan.

Pakatan Harapan has a slight chance to redeem itself in two by-elections scheduled for next month to replace two lawmakers who were killed in a helicopter crash while campaigning in Sarawak. However, that appears to be another mess, with PAS, which is still flirting with the opposition, demanding to field the sole opposition candidate in one of the elections, in Selangor state, or it would leave the government. Azmin Ali, the chief minister who is the apparent target of Rafizi’s charges of sexual misconduct, has in turn threatened to boot both PAS and Pakatan Harapan out of the state government. If that happens, it would in turn open the way for the government to take the state back from the opposition.

“The opposition coalition touted themselves as the Great Big Hope and many Malaysians wholeheartedly believed and supported them only to see them turn into the Great Big Disappointment,” said Imran Imtiaz Shah Yacob, a political observer who lives in Selangor state.

So despite all attempts to unite, with civil groups backing their efforts, the contesting political forces continue to tear themselves apart. The next national elections – the chance to take on the Barisan and seriously contest for an electorate largely fed up with the coalition’s scandals – are in 2018. It seems almost impossible to think that the opposition could get untracked.

“It is not too wrong or fictitious to suggest that for as long as the opposition political parties collaborate out of convenience that is in reality fueled by that hope of riding on each other’s backs to gain power, voters will only keep dropping you like a hot potato,” said J D Loverencear, an opposition figure, in a letter to Asia Sentinel. “So, to DAP, Amanah, PAS, and PKR, the Barisan toasts a thank you for helping them. And at this rate Malaysians are far, far away from the post of a two party system like in the rest of the developed world democracies.”