Will this be our last election? - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Monday, March 12, 2018
Malaysiakini : “Let me define terms: hardball is clean, aggressive Machiavellian
politics. It is the discipline of gaining and holding power, useful to
any profession or undertaking, but practised most openly and unashamedly
in the world of public affairs.” - Chris Mathews, American political commentator
COLUMN | Apparently if Prime Minister Najib Razak wins, this would be our last election. Huh? Depending on how Najib wins the upcoming general election, he would realise that –
1. He really does not need the non-Malay vote (if the non-Malay vote
abandons him) and his numerous alliances - or should that be dalliances?
- with the extreme elements of Malay political structures have borne
2. If the non-Malays do not abandon him, then the “social contract”
is still relevant and Umno understands that the non-Malays have grown
tired of rebelling against the Umno hegemon. Either way, with all the gerrymandering, abuse of electoral
institutions and cash politics, what passes for democracy in this
country will continue with the Umno hegemon secure in the knowledge that
they have bested one of its best and brightest – okay, the only best
and brightest (Dr Mahathir Mohamad) – and secure in the knowledge that
their hegemony will never again or at least most probably will never be
threatened by the split in the Malay community with the collusion of
non-Malay voting blocks.
Make no mistake. This election is not about principles or policies
but rather the biggest fight in the Malay community. This election is a
choice between Najib and former prime minister now opposition
PM-designate, Mahathir. If you think that this is about reforming the
country, you are operating under severe delusions. Whether you believe
that the former prime minister is an agent of change depends on how much
you have invested in the opposition.
This does not mean change will not happen under a Pakatan Harapan
regime but just lay off the kool-aid. Things happen when there is regime
change. The important point is not to invest in politicians and holding
politicians accountable for what they claim they want on your behalf.
Do not get too excited about election manifestos. They do not mean a
thing. They do however give potential voters a hint into the mindset of
how politicians want voters to think. It is strange, isn’t it? Election
manifestos are not legally binding when they are supposed to be
(written) promises from politicians to the people who vote for them. I
wonder what would happen if they were? Anyway, it is not important.
Senior minister Abdul Rahman Dahlan claims that Umno wants a broad
base of support and non-Malays risk being marginalised in the country if
they do not support Umno. In other words, the only thing holding back
the excesses of the Malay community is the participation of non-Malays
in this charade we call democracy. What happens if the non-Malays
Would Umno ditch all those “rights” that non-Malays rely on to
survive in this country? Get one thing straight, non-Malays are not
asking for any “rights” which are not expressly stated in the Malaysian
constitution. But because this is the cursed politics of our country
where unimaginative, petty tyrants in the establishment and the
opposition hold sway, this is how politics is defined in this country. Sometimes I wonder why non-Malays even vote. I mean, it is not as if
they are dependent on the government. I am old fashioned, addicted to
(conservative) Western modes of thinking. That old idea that government
should stay out of the way and let people get on with their lives.
Western (conservative) political hegemons certainly do not believe
this. Governments beholden to corporate interests, maintaining
centralised power and foreign policies wreaking havoc around the world
not based on national interests but specific (class) interests, this is
what real conservatism is about today.
Bogeyman in Malay politics
Malay politics always needs a bogeyman. If you cannot blame someone
else, what does that mean? If you are not as successful as the next –
other race – person, what does that mean? If you are non-Malay, it means
you did not work hard enough. Did not do enough. Did not try hard
enough. This is not about politics. This is about history, culture, how
we came about this green and pleasant land. If you are Malay, well,
check out the rhetoric of Najib and Mahathir to get an idea.
Malaysiakini columnist Francis Paul Siah probably wrote the most hardcore realpolitik article. Two things stand out from his piece –
1. “The DAP will probably need less (campaign money) in
Chinese-majority seats, but Bersatu, PKR and Amanah surely need a lot
more to sustain their campaigns in mixed and rural Malay-based seats.”
This jives with what Malay opposition political operatives tell me -
that the Malay vote is not about policy but rather about enticements.
Temporary (the goodies on the campaign trail) and long-term (more
If this sounds harsh, well, this is the game the opposition has
committed to play and apparently, the zombie apocalypse happens if Umno
2. “If the well-to-do Pakatan Harapan leaders are not prepared to
sacrifice a part of their fortune to help their candidates, then forget
about winning GE14.”
Which is another way of saying that you got fat of the kleptocracy
when in power so, better cough up the dough now that you want to replace
the big cheese. Come on, we all know who the “well-to-do” players in
Harapan are. The Najib refuseniks may be on the opposition side but it
does not mean that they lack funds, which is the mantra of the
opposition. If you are sincere in your desire to want change, you better be
willing to pay for it. I mean Umno folks openly say that the opposition
has no cash, which really means they are waiting to see if those folks
from Umno (and now in the opposition) will really use their own money to
fund the revolution.
It is like that scene in ‘Lethal Weapon 2’
where Riggs and Murtagh are in the container bound for apartheid-era
South Africa. They discover a manure (shit) load of cash and
conveniently a car. Murtagh claims that a fistful of cash is enough to
send his kids to college. Riggs tells him to take it. Murtagh says that
it is drug money, and Riggs says do something good with it. My comrade
Thor Kah Hoong references the great China Mieville, while I mention an early Richard Donner film. Oh well. So yeah, do something good for once with your ill-gotten gains.
Strange isn’t. People mock Najib when he says cash is king but cash is
exactly what is needed to mount an effective electoral campaign. While
this is not solely a Malaysian problem, it is funny when you think of
it, that the ill-gotten gains from another era could be the key in the
disposing of a corrupt regime in this era.
What you really have to worry about is whether this is the last election if Umno loses.