Pakatan in need of a clear succession plan

HIGHLANDER, the 1986 action fantasy is a cult classic that remains on the "must watch" list of many a movie buff.

With a cast lead by Christopher Lambert and Sean Connery, and a soundtrack powered by Queen, Highlander tells the tale of immortal warriors battling each other for "the prize" over centuries, where at the end, as the film's tagline announces, "there can be only one".

While the film has earned millions of fans, several sequels and rip-offs and a television series, it seems that some people have also taken quite keenly to the idea of someone who can live forever.

Among them are a number of politicians and deal makers who are trying to ensure Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad serve out his full term – or even more ridiculously – indefinitely.

Dr Mahathir, who turns 95 in July, is the world's oldest prime minister.

If he were to serve out his full term, then he would (presumably) be 98 when the 15th General Election is called.

The move by several politicians including opposition parties Umno and PAS for a motion to support him for a full term as prime minister through a move of confidence supported by a purported statutory declaration, without a contingency plan is downright ludicrous and irresponsible.

That a succession plan remains vague is the most irresponsible thing this Pakatan Harapan (PH) Government has done or omitted to do.

Hopefully Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is not alone in his opinion that the economy should be taking precedence, not the politicking among coalition party members, including members of his own party, PKR.

His priorities should be the priority of the Government where the economy expanded by a dismal 3.6% under its watch – the slowest growth since 2009 according to Bank Negara.

Dr Mahathir had lamented on how people can still support a former prime minister whom (allegedly) stole taxpayers' money.

The reality is that despite the thievery that was going on, the economy grew by 5.9% in 2017 – fueled by a centralised leadership and decisive policies and decision-making processes.

On the topic of decisiveness, Dr Mahathir should be aware of the investor sentiments for a need of a clear succession path and not a flip flopping of succession dates, peppered with political infighting and a seemingly preferred candidate other than Anwar as eight prime minister.

The people and investors may not care so much for whom – but at least ensure that there is somebody available to take over the helm in the event of the inevitable, where, in the case of a nonagenarian, could happen at any moment.

Dr Mahathir is not immortal. He is not a Highlander. And no, there cannot be only one.

Anwar himself is in his 70s, and the coalition must chart the path of the country for at least the next 10 years.

When Barisan Nasional (BN) ruled, it was accepted that Umno would provide the prime minister and deputy prime minister, from its collection of party president, deputy president and three vice presidents.

While this arrangement has its fair share of detractors, however, it does provide certainty and stability – two components which are vital to a growth of a nation.

There is no clear arrangement in Pakatan.

Dr Mahathir's first tenure as prime minister was autocratic with institutions compromised (some say the same is true today but done more subtly).

However, Malaysia achieved its highest ever economic growth of 10% in 1996. To his credit, Dr Mahathir's policies pulled the country out of two economic crisis in the mid-1980s and 90s.

Perhaps in his last leg of public service, Dr Mahathir should be allowed to be focused on achieving a hattrick of getting us out of the current economic predicament. His Vision 2020 has fallen short. The children who were born in 1991 when the Vision was announced were meant to be high income earners in a developed nation today.

Unfortunately, they form the bulk of youth unemployment (11%) and those needing to hold down two jobs as food delivery personnel and ride hailing service providers, among others.

No, Dr Mahathir, like the rest of us, is not immortal. Time sadly, is not on his side, and this is something he has admitted to recently, that he was tired and does not intend to serve a full term, stepping down after the culmination of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit in November, which we are hosting.

With this target to work towards to, it is probably the right time for the Pakatan coalition to close ranks and start charting the transition and post transition plans – bearing in mind that limiting the tenure of the prime

minister to two terms is one of the reforms promised by Pakatan.

The Opposition be it Umno or PAS will do what it is meant to do in a healthy democracy – undermine their political rivals.

However, a responsible political block such as Pakatan which after finally achieving the impossible feat of unseating Barisan should be focused on staying in power by fulfilling the hopes and aspirations of the people.

Unfortunately, the way Pakatan has been behaving which will ultimately lead to its own destruction, brings to mind the Malay saying, "a monkey receiving a flower".

We may be mortal but the memories of our deeds need not be. How history will remember Dr Mahathir and this crop of political leaders will largely depend on how they behave in these next few months.

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 1
Cxense type: free
User access status: 0
Subscribe now to our Premium Plan for an ad-free and unlimited reading experience!
Terence Fernandez

Terence Fernandez

Terence Fernandez is an award-winning journalist and communications consultant.


Next In Columnists

Yeoh – our pride and joy
Can we just enjoy all our M&M’s?
Embedding integrity in value systems
Blues and Reds must realise there’re limits to what money can buy
Tribute to a great judge and lawyer
A pecking order in policy
Hair trigger in senior years
Caught in the act
The great nepotism debate
Find long-term solutions for the economy

Others Also Read