Does Pakatan Harapan really represent hope?

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is known to be both methodical and mercurial. He remains Malaysia's longest-serving prime minister but has turned against the party that sustained him for his entire political career and is cavorting with former political rivals whom in the past he derided as anti-national.

However, the greatest political somersault of Dr Mahathir's long political career is his rapprochement with his nemesis Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Sept 2, 1998 remains one of the most significant days in Malaysia's political history – a day when Dr Mahathir sacked Anwar as deputy prime minister.

Anwar was then charged and convicted of sodomy and corruption in a sensational trial.

Dr Mahathir was unabashed and inflexible in his conviction that Anwar was unfit to be prime minister as he was not morally fit to hold the highest elected office in Malaysia.

In an interview with Stephen Sackur of BBC's Hardtalk program after GE12 in 2008, when pressed by Sackur if Anwar was wrongfully convicted, this is what Dr Mahathir said:

"Well this is opportunism for him, now that he is out of the government, he was in the government for a long time, he never made any complaints, he never did anything to … well that was not the reason why he was locked up, he was accused of sodomy, he was accused of abuse of power, he was tried in court, nine months and he was defended by nine lawyers and he was found guilty."

However, in an interview with The Guardian newspaper recently, Dr Mahathir sang a completely different song. "In the case of Anwar we can make a case that he was unfairly treated.

The decision of the court was obviously influenced by the government and I think the incoming government would be able to persuade the King to give a full pardon for Anwar, in which case he would be able to participate in politics and become PM. I can have no objection to that."

There have been numerous investigations involving 1Malaysia Development Berhad and the police investigation is still on going.

However, before anything is concluded Dr Mahathir and his cohorts have formed preconceived opinions that are not about the truth but their political interests and predilections.

Also, during Dr Mahathir's time as prime minister, he constantly railed against the foreign press and foreign powers.

During the 1999 Umno General Assembly, Dr Mahathir accused Anwar of being a tool of foreign powers "planning to install their puppet as Umno leader and prime minister."

He also hit out at the foreign press saying it had highlighted street demonstrations and other "adverse reports" since the sacking of Anwar in September 1999.

However, in an interview with The Weekend Australian in April 2016, Dr Mahathir called for foreign intervention in Malaysia. This was another volte-face that lead to consternation due to his constant exhortation during his time in power that is was against national interests to work with foreign outfits.

This now begs the questions, can Dr Mahathir be trusted. He was visceral and unrelenting in his attacks against Anwar and the foreign press are but two examples of his political U-turns and now that it serves his political aspirations he has changed tack and states that Anwar is innocent and has called for foreign meddling in Malaysia's affairs.

Further, this leads us to questions the veracity of Dr Mahathir's attacks against Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and it fits well with his political needs so it has more to do with self-interest as opposed to national interest.

Furthermore, the leadership line up that was announced by Pakatan Harapan last week is not only clumsy but completely muddled.

There is a chairman, de-facto leader and a president. Malaysians have a right to know who will be calling the shots and taking the all-important final call.

There is also a lot to do with political interests and formerly political rivals have now banded together with the singular focus of overthrowing the current government.

Of course it is their constitutional right to associate with whoever they chose but it is also the right of Malaysians to questions the legitimacy and efficacy of this political arrangement.

Given the inherent complexities in Malaysian society, any political organisation must be bounded together my certain values that reflect Malaysian society chief amongst them is stability and policy coherence.

The opposition is arguably only glued together by their hatred for Barisan. Pakatan Harapan does not offer hope but merely offers confusing, inconsistent and incoherent positions on a range of issues whether it is the goods and services tax (GST), the economy or even political reform.

Proposals bandied in wide platitudes with sound bites does not do justice because in the nine years in power in Penang and Selangor they have not provided the "rupture with the past" as they have so often claimed.

Hence, Malaysians must ask themselves the hard questions. It is important as a general election is in the offing and there will a choice to be made. A choice that will define an entire generation.

I agree with the Prime Minister with what he said and I quote, "if we are in a situation that is unclear and directionless, where we are unsure who calls the shots, directions and policies, we will have a high-risk future."

With the entire world in turmoil, Malaysia can ill afford an experiment with a political coalition that cannot even name their prime ministerial candidate.

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