Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Mahathir continues to eff the nation

Following is a letter to Malaysiakini which is one month old, but still relevant and thus worth reading.


The bane of Pakatan Harapan and Malaysia

by Arif Bakhtiar.

LETTER | As the nation grapples with the Covid-19 health crisis, feelings of anger and discontent toward the new government has seeped into public consciousness – mainly on the way things are being handled at the moment.

Ever the one to speak on things that do not concern him, former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad pointed out that the pandemic carries an economic blow that is worse than the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, and that the Perikatan Nasional government decided to walk through the backdoor at the wrong moment.

While the rakyat’s anger towards Perikatan Nasional’s management is justifiable, we should also remember the bane that exacerbated the situation we are in now - Mahathir himself.

As the political tussle subsides following the formation of the new Perikatan Nasional government, more stories come to light as to what caused the downfall of the Pakatan Harapan government.

In Mahathir’s various interviews since the "Sheraton Move", the former prime minister implied that Anwar Ibrahim’s overeagerness to be the prime minister was the trigger to the coalition’s fall, that the latter was too impatient and caused things to overheat.

Of course, Mahathir chose to blind himself to the fact that he did not want to set a firm date for the power transition which can only be explained that he was ready to fight tooth and nail to prevent Anwar Ibrahim’s ascension to prime ministership. His own party, Bersatu, was also all too eager to indulge his hunger for power, up until a certain point, of course.

Realising that he was outmanoeuvred by those that he trusted, it was, of course, all to easy to just blame someone else for his own shortcomings.

If we were to imagine a different reality where there is a clear date for the power transition, there is without a doubt that the administrative and policy processes of our healthcare would have been much smoother, and the loss of confidence in our economy wouldn’t have been so severe.

Instead, we were all played like chess pieces by our former prime minister.

In a minute scale of things, it is best for Pakatan Harapan to move forward with its original three parties, Amanah, DAP, and PKR if they are truly committed to the reformasi agenda. Mahathir’s many U-turns and his stubbornness will just be a liability for the coalition, not to mention that the very party he chairs is no longer in the coalition.

Many of the voters who brought in Harapan close to two years ago were left disappointed when Mahathir did not turn out to be as effective in pushing reforms into the system – which is why we must not waste our time with his many musings anymore. He had his chance, and he squandered it – it is time we move on.

In the larger scale, the intrigue and political infighting caused by Mahathir diverted the attention of many from the Covid-19 issue back then, which in turn caused a lag in administrative efficiency leading to the mess we are witnessing today. To blame PN for the problem they inherited is just intellectually dishonest.

The former government had many chances to stem the problem at its root, but were caught in the political game instead. Our best chance now is for the new government to implement measures to clean up the mess left behind.

Beyond the virus, it is important that confidence in the stability of the country, despite plummeting oil prices, is communicated clearly by the government of the day – something Mahathir deliberately chose to ignore when he did not want to set a firm date for the transition of power.

Time for us to move on and move forward, Malaysia.