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PH’s power and potential now protected and prolonged

The recent state polls consolidated PH's plural, inclusive and participatory governance policy

Anwar Ibrahim with other coalition leaders in his 'unity government' - AFIQ HAMBALI/PRIME MINISTER'S OFFICE

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By M Santhananaban

The process that brought Pakatan Harapan to power in Malaysia began just before the country’s 2018 general election.

The results on 9 May that year were of epochal significance.

But the symbolic and substantive significance attached to that date was, in hindsight, misplaced and later diminished.

Anwar Ibrahim, the architect and inspiration for PH and the Reformasi movement, was, as circumstances would have it, not there to claim his rightful place.

Certain reactionary elements then ruled the roost.

As a result, from 11 May 2018, the country had in place a leadership comprised largely of pretenders who had usurped Anwar’s position.

Led by Dr Mahathir Mohamad, that leadership was neither faithful nor fully committed to PH’s altruistic and participatory policy of accountability, good governance and transparency.

All the same, that leadership, despite its many shortcomings, went about the business of investigating thoroughly, prosecuting and imprisoning the biggest fraudster and money launderer in Malaysian history.

Rulers’ role

After last year’s general election, an altruistic and inclusive team was put in place by the soft power and gracious statesmanship of the King and the Malay rulers, who inspired and initiated a “unity government” on 24 November.

The rulers saved the country by this astute, discreet and wise move.

The pretenders from 2018 were offered a place in this unity government, but they spurned it – fortunately!

2023 state polls

These same pretenders, led by two former prime ministers, Mahathir and Mahiaddin Yasin, then ganged up with extremist ethnic and orthodox religious elements to contest against PH in the 12 August state elections.

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The outcome is now crystal clear. These polls consolidated and entrenched the authority of PH’s plural, inclusive and participatory governance policy.

Two ‘backdoor’ consorting specialists of somewhat shady Sandakan and Sheraton fame tried to use these polls to undermine and unseat the legally constituted, legitimately elected federal government. They failed miserably.

In the 245 state assembly seats contested in six states, PH won just 100 seats, while Perikatan Nasional candidates seized 146. Yet PH’s share of the popular vote edged that secured by PN.

The PH team, led by Anwar Ibrahim, Mohamad Sabu and Anthony Loke, is the face that has to be projected and promoted in the nation’s plural society. Sabah and Sarawak leaders must join this triumvirate to make a comfortable ‘panchasila’ team.

Their main goal? To cleanse the nation of toxic elements who harp on divisive ethnicity-based issues.

Hopefully, an Umno under a clean and conscionable woman leader will be able to join this core group of five in the future.

Six decades after the formation of Malaysia – while upholding Islam as the official religion of the country, as provided for in the Constitution – the government must get on with the business of governing.

It must foster greater national unity, correct economic imbalances between the various groups and regions, wipe out corruption and improve governance.

This way, it will enhance the country’s health, educational and social wellbeing. The full potential of our blessed and bountiful land of diversity must be tapped and realised.

The regional and international environment is highly competitive and complex.

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PH’s team with its senior leaders professing a universal outlook and its second echelon led by Rafizi Ramli, Dzulkefly Ahmad, Hannah Yeoh and Syahredzan Johan could take a major step in the right direction.

These PH leaders should rope in leaders of the past like Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, Ong Tee Keat, Anifah Aman, Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj, Tawfik Ismail and at least two young women of some standing. This group could advise the government on how to steer the country towards a better and brighter future. This eminent group could also be consulted by the cabinet on key development issues.

Anwar’s priorities

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim must focus on becoming a magnanimous and inspiring national leader.

He must prioritise domestic unity, as well as economic, educational, environmental and foreign policy issues.

He must refrain from travelling abroad to pontificate on issues of fringe interest to the nation. We have seen what happened in the past when a former leader attempted just that.

The primary focus should be to foster harmonious relations with Malaysia’s Asean neighbours, especially in providing dignity to the millions of foreign workers and visitors in this country.

Before embarking on this key initiative, he must focus on raising the minimum wage of workers in Malaysia to a level that will enable them to live with dignity.

Dato’ M Santhananaban is a former ambassador with 45 years of public sector experience. He has no political affiliations

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

AGENDA RAKYAT - Lima perkara utama
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