COMMENT | History has witnessed the collapse and defeat of ‘grand old parties’. Amongst them, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) 71-year rule in Mexico (1929-2000) and six decades of the Colorado Party monopoly in Paraguay (1947-2008).
Corruption and autocracy also spelt the demise of 40 years of the lndian National Congress, whose lofty ideals were once inspired by the iconic Mahatma Ghandi and Jawaharlal Nehru.
Political pundits are beginning to moot the idea of a similar misfortune befalling the Umno which has ruled Malaysia uninterruptedly for 63 years since her first elections on July 27, 1955. Will it ever become a reality in this ‘mother of all battles’ of the 14th general election (GE)?
Taking cognisance of the wise words of Albert Einstein: ‘The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results’, Pakatan Harapan (PH) has turned the tables on Umno, with the unanticipated nomination of Dr Mahathir Mohamad (Tun M) and Dr Wan Azizah (DSWA) as the prime minister and Deputy PM designate of Pakatan Harapan.
Umno was visibly struck and frantic when Harapan unleashed these two stellar doctors to ‘detox’ the overly ‘toxic politics’ of Malaysia and ostensibly a ‘critically ill’ nation. The agony of the rakyat, beyond their cost of living, seems equally unbearable too.
Umno’s spin-doctors and media machine were on overdrive to character assassinate the ‘vintage’ 92-year old Tun M. Ministers led by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, were spewing malicious and defamatory remarks of the person of Tun M around the clock. But it is obvious to all and sundry, that Umno-BN has hit the panic button.
Understandably so, on the heel of securing 53 percent of the popular vote in Peninsular Malaysia and 51 percent nationally in the last 13 GE by the ‘reformasi icon’, Anwar Ibrahim (DSAI), what does it now take to affect the ‘last push’ of securing an outright victory in this 14th general election?
Well, it would seem very plausible that the Tun M-DSWA duo, would provide the Midas touch required to trigger the final ousting and demise of Najib’s Umno-BN kleptocratic government.
It is not for the dearth of a younger crops of leaders, namely Azmin Ali, Husam Musa, Nurul Izzah, Rafizi Ramli et al but more so, because without Anwar only Tun and Wan Azizah now fit the bill.
The prospect of having the first woman deputy prime minister is not outlandish to the many women voters wanting to see more than just lip-service.
More strategically, this Harapan leadership decision abundantly debunks the oft-repeated propaganda that DAP actually dominates the coalition. The named PM and DPM-designates from Harapan has obliterated all such nonsense that Lim Kit Siang would become the new PM or Lim Guan Eng would be installed as the deputy prime minister.
But lo and behold, Harapan is still very much a Malay-Muslim leadership, albeit an inclusive and progressive one. That is the narrative for a new hope (Harapan) and a new beginning for ‘A Better Malaysia’.
The decision literally took the wind out of their sails. Both Najib and Abdul Hadi Awang of PAS have considerably lost their premium among the rural and as well urban Malay-Muslim voters in using the race and religious cards.
Granted, the early announcement of the Tun M-DSWA duo too, was a political master-stroke of sort. It was deliberately aimed at redressing the many Malay dilemmas and the ‘manufactured’ confusion.
The choice of the Malay leadership is now clear; between one which works for ‘maintaining kleptocracy’ versus one which attempts at ‘debunking kleptocracy’.
The combination of Tun M-DSWA hence mainstreamed the reformasi message, which was captured in the ’13 Agenda For Change’ at the recent Harapan convention. Notwithstanding, an action plan was also laid out for the eventual nomination of Anwar as the eight prime minister by the executive branch of the Harapan government.
Besides, Tun M in his acceptance speech invoked forgiveness for his excesses in the past. It was magnanimous much as it is a rarity in political history.
His special mentioning and thanking of the family and former ally-turned-nemesis-turned-ally was stupendous and much to the chagrin of the unrepentant and remorseless Najib.
Quite timely too, some of the allegations against Tun M are now proven false and unfounded.
The former attorney-general, Abu Talib Othman, in a recorded video message, clarified that Tun M was not responsible for the unceremonious discharge of former lord president Salleh Abas and a few other judges.
The Memali tragedy was laid flat on the face of Hadi and his acrimonious ‘Amanat Hadi’. The ploy of Najib to blame Tun M for the Bank Negara forex losses was wittily rebutted by Tun M’s expose’ of another RM161 billion in forex losses when BNM tried, in vain, to defend the falling ringgit using our foreign reserves.
Has Harapan found in this duo a special formula to fortify the strategic planning for a victory in the GE14?
The suffering rakyat, particularly the ‘Bottom-40′ (B40), the lower Middle-40 (M-40) and, in fact, across all the social classes, gender, age, ethno-religious and voters’ segmentations, would want to believe that change is not only possible but also mandatory in the coming polls.
With the nation on the brink of a systemic collapse due to a premier that usurps all power of check and balance, failure is no longer an option.
DR DZULKEFLY AHMAD is strategy director, Parti Amanah Negara.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.