Here we go again, albeit after a brief respite.
Malaysians are again witnessing the spectacle of politicians competing for power, with attempts, yet again, to unseat the incumbent Perikatan Nasional government, whose razor-thin majority in Parliament and legitimacy was in question from day one.
By now, Malaysians have become accustomed to the usual flurry of activity among the competing political parties, with their behind-the-scenes meetings, leaked information, press statements and counter statements, claims and counterclaims, resignations and crossovers, and statutory declaration. Is anyone watching the drama anymore, other than the politicians themselves, I wonder?
The present imbroglio is the direct and immediate consequence of the recent fiasco in Parliament, where the PN government was caught with its pants down when the de facto law minister, Takiyuddin Hassan, misled Parliament over the revocation of the emergency ordinances. He was caught out by no less than the King himself when the palace issued two statements clarifying the issue and reiterating that royal assent had not yet been given – an unprecedented move by the royal institution.
Opposition MPs had earlier been loud and livid in Parliament when they were denied the opportunity to debate the emergency ordinances, and some had actually raised the issue of royal assent. So, although some labelled the MPs’ behaviour as “irresponsible, disappointing, immature, like in a zoo”, shouldn’t we give them credit that they persisted – even if they had to shout to be heard – when faced with a partisan Speaker?
So, what next? Is it a game of political chess or musical chairs? Many political commentators have been working out the permutations, politics being the art of the possible.
Prime Minster Mahiaddin Yasin has put on a public face of ‘business as usual’, while furiously paddling underneath! Will he be a lame-duck PM while waiting for the September sitting, in the wake of the latest defections from ‘Big Brother’ Umno?
But which Umno will prevail? The party seems to manifest a split personality now. While one segment declares loyalty to the PN PM, the other withdraws support for him and his government and declares undivided loyalty to the King. While rumours fly about a possible Umno-Pakatan Harapan collaboration, out comes a public statement: “No Anwar, no DAP.”
Will PH be able to outmanoeuvre its opponents and forge a workable coalition? Do the East Malaysian political parties hold the trump card or is Pas the kingmaker? Is Dr Mahathir Mohamad waiting in the wings?
And all this, while the ground below the table on which the chess board is set is being violently shaken by a global pandemic with its concomitant health, economic and political crises, not to mention very personal losses.
Where do you and I, ordinary Malaysians, figure in all this? This most recent political spectacle has exposed, yet again, the weaknesses in our governance systems that make a mockery of the democratic principles of legitimacy, accountability and the rule of law.
We have experienced first-hand the consequences of poor governance. But many Malaysians say that they don’t have time for ‘politics’; they are just trying to stay alive! They feel helpless and hopeless, especially in the face of this pandemic.
So, what can we do? This pandemic also has an upside of sorts: “chaos often precedes great creativity.” It has brought out the courage, selflessness and perseverance of many Malaysians. Many have come forward to fill the gaps left by the government, helping those who have fallen through the cracks.
Many of our youths have shown great leadership in solving problems in creative ways, often in a jiffy. Many have called out unprincipled, dishonourable and incompetent politicians.
From making catchy, hard-hitting TikTok videos to protesting on the streets of the capital, we need to come together and collaborate with like-minded Malaysians.
We have to take ownership of our country and our destiny.
We deserve better. And we demand it.
Mary Magdaline Pereira is an Aliran executive committee member