I was bemused by Pas deputy president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man’s call for Pas, Bersatu and Umno to continue to cooperate until and beyond the next general election.
The Pas leader urged the parties to do so, ostensibly, to minimise internal politicking and to focus on solving issues affecting the people due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Tuan Ibrahim, how would any right-thinking person equate your advocacy for political survival with focusing on the plight of the people? Do you not think there is a world of difference between the political expediency of the Perikatan Nasional bedfellows and the suffering of the people?
According to the Business Survival coalition, the government’s multi-billion ringgit financial assistance package did not reach targeted groups such as the tourism, retail, and small and medium-sized enterprise sectors. According to them, only 3.2% of the existing SMEs benefited from the financial aid made available.
Given that fact, I cannot fathom your proposition that the Pas-Bersatu-Umno backdoor partnership ought to prevail not only now but beyond the next general election. You are propagating a race-based political ecosystem when our nation was built on a diverse race, religious and cultural melting pot.
We do need not to be rocket scientists to decipher your race-based political agenda.
The previous Pakatan Harapan government, though short-lived – no thanks to the political manoeuvring of unprincipled political parties like yours – did endeavour to dismantle the race-centred landscape of the nation.
So, you ought to refrain from advocating a race-centred political footprint when what we desperately need is to transform the embedded race-centred political mentality holistically.
At the bottom of the political spectrum, race and religious inclinations, skewered towards a selected segment, have dominated the political equation.
That needs to change for the sake of a progressive society irrespective of the colour of our skins, religious beliefs and cultural practices.
But obviously you do not subscribe to a plural society as seen in your call for race-based parties to cooperate to ensure political dominance.
Rather than advancing your political agenda, you ought to focus on the plight of the people. If you have not been told, the Department of Statistics has just disclosed that the unemployment rate has increased from 4.8% in December to 4.9% in January, marked by a spike in unemployment in the tourism-related sector.
This means that the PN’s financial aid schemes have failed to arrest the rise in unemployment! Obviously, much more needs to be done to tackle the situation.
Though that is the reality, the Pas deputy president seems to be prioritising the political survival of the fragile PN government in the wake of an overwhelming Umno grassroots declaration for a parting of ways.
So, Tuan Ibrahim, I suggest you and your PN partners urgently resolve the real issues of job losses, pay cuts and plant closures instead of wasting time on forging a political alliance just to stay in power.
K Veeriah is a veteran trade unionist based in Bukit Mertajam, Penang