Malaysia Dateline

The Mahathir and Anwar compact, more important than contract



No one has done an actual counts. Even if all the pundits and political scientists did, the number of times Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad and Prime Minister In Waiting Anwar Ibrahim, pledged to mutually consolidate the transition from the 7th to the 8th prime ministership has exceeded more than a hundred times, either publicly or privately.

Now, Islamic laws and Anglo Saxon laws privilege the importance of contracts. Contracts, once signed and sealed, shall be inviolable. Doughlas North, a Nobel prize economist, sees such contracts as the beginning of “institutionalisation” where ideas that are subject to high fluctuation or changes can be transformed into concrete initiatives.

But the world of politics is not clad in any iron rule. The United States refused to ratify the UN Convention on the Laws of the Seas. Yet the United States, based on a resolution in the House of Senate, does respect most if not all principles of the UN Laws of the Seas. In contrast, China is a member of the UN Convention on the Laws of the Sea yet Beijing has militarized some of the islets in South China Sea to lay claim to 3.6 million square kilometers of the entire maritime basin. Who is right ? Who is wrong ? No one knows until might makes right.

With regard to Mahathir and Anwar, there was a period when they fought for a good twenty years too. But both of them have since renounced that phase, and moved into another template, which is the need “to save Malaysia.” And, Malaysia does need saving. The national debt is now RM 1.09 trillion, almost 80 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product.

The repayment of the debt of 1MDB alone could run until 2038, according to Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry Dr Ong Kian Ming. The kleptocracy of Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Barisan National has indeed burned a hole—–a humongous one in the public finances of Malaysia just when the country needs all the financial and human resources at hand to attain the vision of 2020.

To be sure, a country can run perfectly well without a Constitution too. United Kingdom does not have a Constitution. It operates on legal verdicts that had been previously decided by the wise counsel and learned opinions of the previous judges. It also originated from the Magna Carta in the 13th century, where the King and the rights of the landed gentry and people shall always be respected. The sum of all the above is a strong “tradition,” which over time, has become an “institution,” that no one violates. Rather everyone has respected it as a compact.

To the degree Mahathir and Anwar keep repeating their strategic cooperation to save Malaysia, the transition can take place either within two years or more, or, as Tun Dr Mahathir said in New York City yesterday, “perhaps shorter.”

What Malaysians should do is not to instigate a fight between the two, when that phase is already all waters under the bridge, with a full royal pardon from the DYMM Agung too. Compact comes from constant reiteration to make things work.

To the degree Mahathir trusts Anwar more and more, such as allowing him to return to the parliament, this is already the beginning of a strong confidence building process that will lead to a win win outcome to all. However what is a win win outcome to Malaysia will be a lose lose outcome to Umno and Barisan National and PAS.

They stand to gain from more chaos and disunity, at which point, their pseudo nationalism and organized hypocrisy, both on the national and religious fronts, will reign supreme again. Malaysians should not fall for their ruse. May 9th has allowed Malaysia to undergo a metamorphosis to become a serious democracy, a privilege which is only entitled to 4.5 per cent of the world’s global population. Malaysians are in this elite club of democracy now. And Mahathir and Anwar have successfully brought the country here through Pakatan Harapan.