Tun Dr Mahathir As The Minority Prime Minister?
Some concepts in political science are very deceptive. They seem right, even logical and empirically correct, but when used in Malaysia they cannot retain the original meaning.
At 49 seats in the parliament, PKR is indeed a the backbone of Pakatan Harapan (PH), as is Democratic Action Party (DAP) with 45 seats. Both of them combined without a doubt can far exceed the number of seats held by Bersatu and AMANAH.
One should not forget the strategic alliance struck with Warisan in Sabah, which is practically the handiwork of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad and Warisan President Datuk Shafie Apdal combined. Without all these intricate alliances, the government would not have romped home to victory on May 9.
But Malaysia, especially the Malay votes, are divided into “urban,” “rural,” and “sub rural,” as Tun Dr Mahathir Muhammad explained to South China Morning Post weeks after the election.
PKR and DAP cannot break into the rural and sub rural constituencies at all. At close to 120 parliamentary seats, they are not easy to penetrate with any serious traction at all.
This leaves the Mahathir “brand,” as the most powerful factor that glues the urban, rural and sub rural constitutiencies together; followed closely by the courage of AMANAH to break away from PAS in middle of July due to serious moral principles not to co-exist with PAS and Umno. Without the pastiches of these kilts, Pakatan Harapan would probably be a pale skeletal of itself.
Thus while P Gunasegaran and Rafizi Rafizi Ramli are right to call Tun Dr Mahathir a “minority,” Prime Minister they ought to be remember that in the land of the blind the one eyed man is the King. Prior to Tun Dr Mahathir joining Pakatan Harapan, the latter was somewhat leaderless, as Anwar Ibrahim, no doubt a capable and competent leader of the highest order, was still in prison.
Indeed, Tun Dr Mahathir affirmed recently, that “you could remove me, maybe Pakatan Harapan can collapse, maybe it cannot collapse, but either way no one knows.”
At a time when the priority is to reduce the national debt of RM 1.09 trillion, with many billions more missing, such as the RM 19 bilillion GST refund, indeed another RM 16 billion from unclaimed property gains tax, plus another RM 32 billion for unreturned income tax refunds, the fiscal hole left by the previous administration of Najib Razak administration is both grave and serious. These are the fiscal thievery that can blow five year economic plans into smithereens, if not leaving an ashen financial legacy of close to several decades; not unlike the lost Latin America and lost Japanese generations.
As things are, othet than Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad, Pakatan Harapan has no quick and sturdy leader who can step forward as yet. Anwar Ibrahim, without a doubt a stellar democratic icon, has been in and out of medical treatment for his shoulder and back injury not just in Malaysia but Turkey. If the procedures are not elaborate and delicate, they could have been done in Malaysia to say the least. Thus, it is extremely dangerous to use a leader when he is physically injured, since the loss of Anwar Ibrahim would be the end of the transition process.
Since Tun Dr Mahathir is sprightly and healthy, and is committed to full reforms of the country—–ideally a total wipe out of the effects of corruption which have indeed become systemic—–talks of Tun Dr Mahathir as the “minority” Prime Minister is not only helpful, but a sign of the politics of immaturity. Why ?
To begin with, even Tan Sri Muyiddin Yassin, the Home Affairs Minister, is about to undergo new rounds of chemorherapy. There is a likelihood that the chemotherapy could be successful but nevertheless a drain on his energy as well. Invariably, Tun Dr Mahathir has had to take over.
Meanwhile, Nurul Izzah, a smart and capable Member of Parliament in Permatang Pauh, Penang, is not a member of the cabinet as yet. Rafizi Ramli is only about to challenge for the deputy presidency of PKR with no certainty if he is the anoited one as yet since 800,000 PKR members have to make a choice between him and Minister of Economy Azmin Ali.
A minority Prime Minister is one who should be listening to the rest of the coalition partners. So far there are no signs that Tun Dr Mahathir is not playing by the rule of the book. The manifesto produced by Pakatan Harapan is still attested as the key document to take all partners forward.
Anwar Ibrahim himself has affirmed the importance of allowing Tun Dr Mahathir to continue with the task of leading the country, and has invariably——and wisely—–chosen to concentrate his energies on parliamentary affairs and the impending select committees that will serve as a check and balance on the rest of the coalition government.
Meanwhile, polls by Merdeka Center shows that the popularity of Tun Dr Mahathir and his Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail are both neck and neck at 70 per cent and above.
In other words, Malaysians support the duo and Pakatan Harapan, without which their popularity levels would not be so high. Malaysians also look up to Anwar Ibrahim as their future leader as he is voted as a capable successor to Tun Dr Mahathir.
Talks of minority Prime Minister should therefore be reduced to inaudible chatter. Malaysia is facing some serious head winds in facing the mountains of debts.
In the days to come, do not be surprised that the administration of Najib Razak, in complicity with Low Taek Jhow or Jhow Low has swindled the milk money of primary school students in the interior of Malaysia and Borneo too.