Source of all evils

Because he has been betrayed so many times, Anwar Ibrahim has decided not to trust Tun Mahathir any more, which means a slap in the face of DAP and Amanah which have strongly advocated the “Mahathir-Anwar” formula.

After Anwar resolvedly stated his stand, although Lim Guan Eng and Mat Sabu say they will continue to go with Anwar, they have nevertheless mentioned that Mahathir will only be PM for six months. In other words, they have not completely dropped the idea of a “Mahathir-Anwar” combo, should PH get to form the government again.

Now that Anwar has said, “How much longer must I suffer?” by right his allies should understand his dilemma. The 22-year friendship of PH leaders and their principles shall prevail over all others. The value of being in politics is not just about seizing the power but also the pursuit of one’s ideals.

Contradictions among PH leaders have invariably hurt the feelings of their supporters. How do we expect PH to bring substantial changes to the nation if they do not even stand by their principles?

By right the 2018 general elections that saw the corrupt BN government toppled should provide a unique opportunity for the new PH government to institute the long overdue reforms. Unfortunately Mahathir opted to renege on the PH election manifesto. As if that is not enough, the return of conservative forces have galvanized the PH government to swing from one end to another, killing the very precious opportunity to deliver meaningful reforms to the nation.

Tun Mahathir refused to honor his promise to hand over the baton to Anwar. He quit his PM post, giving ambitious politicians the rare opportunity to seize the power through the back door.

As the entire national institution and political atmosphere have become so corrupt that more elected reps began to defect to the rival camp to effectuate the collapse of state administrations from Johor, Melaka, Perak to Kedah. Politicians are so engrossed in the power-seizing game that they are now prowling on Sabah, Penang and Selangor.

With the whole political climate in such a depressing state, it is anticipated that the PN government will eventually lose its sense of direction.

What has caused all the chaos we have today? Don’t our politicians have the slightest hint of shame at all? All this has not happened by chance overnight but through bit by bit of decay building up in the country’s system over the past six decades. As a result, we have slowly lost the power to rein in our politicians, while the increasingly powerful politicians continue to undermine the system, culminating in the uncontrollable situation we have today.

The erosion of our institutional integrity could be traced back to the enactment of the internal security act way back in 1960. The ISA was initially used to deal with the communist party but has since excessively enlarged the powers of the police. Pursuant to the “Confrontation” with Indonesia and the Philippines, the government abolished local council elections in 1965, further eating into the people’s right to vote for local council representatives.

Much bigger damage was done during Mahathir’s 22 years as prime minister, including the judicial crisis arising from the Umno infighting in 1987, impacting the independence of the country’s judiciary.

Mahathir revised the Police Act 1967, giving the police more power to control gatherings, demonstrations and rallies. He amended the Constitution and changed the judicial power of courts from being derived from the Constitution to federal laws passed in the Parliament. He amended the Societies Act, denying courts the right to trial any decision made by a political party.

Mahathir has over and again revised the laws for his own interest, infinitely empowering the prime minister’s office and the administrative institution. As a consequence, anyone in the prime minster seat is basically immune from the checks and balances.

Although former prime minister Najib Razak revoked the ISA, the Parliament adopted the Security Offenses (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma), the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012, the Prevention of Crime (Amendment and Extension) Act 2013 (POCA) and the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015 (POTA).

Anwar recently slammed Mahathir for mismanaging the regional financial crisis of 1997 in gross disregard for institutional reforms, thus giving rise to 1MDB and other scandals in the latter years. Because of Mahathir’s conservative capital control measures, the country could ignore IMF’s reform solutions.

For all these years, the country’s leaders have adopted tactical solutions to resolve our crises. As a result, Malaysians have become complacent. Nevertheless, for a country that has a slanting power-separation structure, reformation is a painful democratic process that we must endure. In the absence of this painful process, our problems will never get solved.

Frustratingly, political conservatism has been rationalized. For example, Mahathir has accused Anwar of practicing liberalism that causes the Malays to stay away from PH. He also said PH’s multiracial nature would not win the support of Malay MPs.

As a seasoned political leader, Mahathir should change the political mind frame of the Malays and not put the blame on progressive thinking and pluralism.

Today, we not only see rampant racial and religious politics but also lack of legal constraints over party-hopping among elected reps, unrestrained political appointments, the emergence of populist politics, as well as increasingly constricted freedom of expression, resulting in public skepticism over the integrity of our AG, MACC, courts and the police force.

Because of deep-rooted institutional decay, our politicians have lost themselves. There is no way this country will ever go back to the right track again over the next one decade.

By Lim Sue Goan – SIN CHEW DAILY

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