JANUARY 14 — Happy New Year! Since we are still in the month of January, it is probably not too late for me to wish everyone a happy and prosperous new year. I can’t help believing that 2017 can only bring much hope after what seems to be an awful 2016.
The last year was an eventful one for me, not just because I completed my Master’s degree in International Studies and Diplomacy but because I also made great friends from all over the world.
It helped that my college, the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, has such incredible diversity. Although I enjoyed my break from politics while pursuing my studies, I am also glad to be back in Malaysia just as our political alignments suffered a groundbreaking shift.
When Pakatan Rakyat broke up, many Malaysians (certainly more than half who voted in the last general election) felt their hopes shattered. Infighting gripped the coalition partners, all of whom appeared to be more interested in criticising each other rather than the BN regime.
This led to widespread dissatisfaction as fence-sitters began to feel that while the current government is not ideal, the alternative — the opposition — was not ready to govern.
This worked well for the long-ruling regime, because not only did they spark the split within the opposition, they benefited tremendously as attention was diverted away from the multiple scandals afflicting the government.
Realising this, the opposition began to regroup and Pakatan Harapan was formed with the establishment of PAS splinter party Amanah. While it created a glimmer of hope, most Malaysians remained unconvinced.
And then came Bersatu, the newest kid on the block, though it is led by arguably the oldest kid of all — former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Drawing its membership and leadership predominantly from Umno, it threatens to split the ruling party. If this happens, then an interesting outcome awaits at the next general election.
However, despite all the criticism and uncertainty revolving around the loose coalition of Pakatan Harapan and Bersatu, I do find hope in three very unlikely personalities. Three giant statesmen with brilliant minds and political fortitude that is unrivalled, joining together for the first time to create the Malaysian dream coalition — Lim Kit Siang, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and the Tun himself.
Previously bitter enemies, now enjoined in political solidarity, who can argue against this super combination of talent, wisdom and experience adding up to over 100 years between the three of them. Can this leadership line-up succeed in attracting Malaysians?
As a member of the opposition youth movement, I personally cannot help feeling excited by this incredible turn of events. It is truly a moment of historical significance when these three veteran leaders, and many others down the line, are able to bury the hatchet for the sole objective of saving our country. If they can’t do it, no one else can.
One might think that I am biased due to my political affiliations. However, it is inconceivable for anyone to do otherwise when quite literally the entire world shares the same opinion.
In many ways, 2016 saw the death of common sense. The question is, what does 2017 have in store? Will we continue to see the expansion of post-truth politics and the rise of Trumpism in Malaysia? Well, the answer is really up to us.
No one can shape Malaysia more than us Malaysians. It is up to us to educate our brethren, to share good values, to ignore the politics of hate and bigotry, and to overcome those who wish to divide us. It is also up to us to open the eyes of our neighbours, to tell them that good governance leads to better government, and better government leads to better living for all Malaysians.
We cannot rely solely on our politicians to do the campaigning. Everyone must join in. If it takes a village to raise a child, then it will take a whole country, alongside our veteran statesmen Kit Siang, Anwar and Mahathir, to save Malaysia. This is one of my hopes and dreams for 2017.
The opposition needs clear direction, concrete ideas and titanic support to live up to its name as the Pakatan Harapan–Bersatu, the united hope coalition. But the opposition can only do so much. The hope and unity in its name rests on the hopes and unity of the rakyat.
* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.