How the mighty have fallen


  • Making Progress
  • Friday, 18 Mar 2016

MANY may not know this, but politics is defined as the science of government. However, politics have more often been associated with bickering, the pursuit of power, backroom dealing and other negatives.

However, betrayal is also another feature of politics that always rears its ugly head and for those of us in politics; it is always the most painful to bare. The most famous story of betrayal in a political context is the stabbing of Julius Caesar by Brutus on the ides of March nonetheless.

On March 4, 2016, a group of politicians from yesteryear came together to sign a "Citizens' Declaration" that called for, amongst other things, reforms to the political system, curtailment of the powers of the Prime Minister and ensuring the independence of the key organs of Government.

All of this makes good rhetorical fodder, but peel away the veneer and it is indeed one of the more dramatic political U-turns in Malaysian history.

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is a statesman and the longest-serving prime minister of Malaysia. He is also the man that fortified the office of the Prime Minister, centralising all decision-making and ensuring that he was above everyone else.

When the Judiciary stood in his way, he removed the judges. When the royalty stood in his way, he made the royal assent of an Act of Parliament a mere formality. During all of this, the party and coalition he led stood by him in lock-step, believing he was acting in the best interests of the nation. We can argue about this now, but then again, hindsight always allows us to be masters of critique.

Fast forward to 2016, and Dr Mahathir has chosen to work with the very people he looked at derisively and whom he labelled "anti-national" to bring down the Prime Minister he campaigned for in the last general election. How the mighty have fallen!

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak in six years has initiated the Government, economic and political transformation programme which has grown the national income by 44% between 2009 and 2013, ensured public services are efficient and ensuring that the political space be widened to facilitate rational and informative debate.

Malaysia's economy continues to grow despite the drop in the price of crude oil and commodities. Fitch has retained our "A-"rating due to the fiscal stabilisation measures undertaken by the government. The social safety net, especially BR1M, remains intact despite the trying times.

However, efforts to widen the political space have resulted in wanton abuse and the purveying of half-truths and inaccurate information has sullied attempts to revamp the Sedition Act. Further, the police and other related authorities have to act proactively to ensure that peace and harmony is not unravelled at the altar of the political ambitions of those who seek to usurp power.

Despite there not being a single indictment related to investigations into 1MDB, these so-called warriors of justice and the legal process believe some can be guilty until proven innocent if it suits their political ambitions.

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times," this quote from the Tale of Two Cities comes to mind. It is the best of times because as our economy grows despite headwinds, and the Government is able to execute its plan and is on track to deliver on its promise to ensure Malaysia is a high-income nation by the year 2020. It is the worst of times because lies and betrayal seems to be the order of the day and it is somehow condoned.

But as King Lear said of his children who betrayed him, "here I disclaim all my paternal care," the Prime Minister and the party he leads can finally unshackle themselves of the bond of loyalty that have constrained them thus far and call a spade a spade and respond ferociously yet constructively to the many allegations drenched in falsehoods that have been labelled against him.

The very idea of a Westminster-style government is under threat because a prime minister that enjoys the full confidence of his backbenchers and the coalition he leads is being imperilled by those who seek to employ unconstitutional means to achieve their political ends. Any such attempt must be defeated.

But we in Barisan Nasional remain steadfast, confident that the best has been done to transform Malaysia given the many complexities from ethnicity, religion, culture and language that at times circumscribes us.

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