SEPTEMBER 15 — It’s the hope that kills.
After almost 75 years of fever-pitched conviction that divide and rule is the Malaysian way, young voices emerge to say, maybe not.
A spark in the dour dark. Instead of burning up and blowtorching the archaic institutions and thinking which plague this young nation, they opt to fade. Afraid to reach out for accelerants readily available to youthful rigour.
Too soon for an obituary but surely time for a rebuke. Of the strongest sort.
Was it ever in doubt? Youth party Muda submits to the high authority of the Pakatan Harapan Council.
The apparent basis, the demands of the first past the post (FPTP) electoral system is overwhelming for a new party, therefore the path to political survival is to form a binary choice for the people — Barisan Nasional (BN) versus the rest of the powerful, for the people. A or B. With Muda in B, if accepted.
The column has oodles to add about binary choices, false evaluation of BN’s present strengths and how to be the political brand of 2023, but today is about Muda — and its political hara-kiri.
From lofty ambitions it slithers down to choose survival over principles. Seats over aspirations. A right to shout in Dewan Rakyat rather than speaking directly to the people through the mighty machinations of TikTok.
To not choose youth’s zeitgeist — The old rules do not matter, we do things when we want and what we want and there are no boundaries to how our future can be.
Instead, most tragically, it chose to believe Malaysia is fixed and won’t change, not even with almost seven million new voters — automatic registrations of all Malaysians 18 and above — for GE15.
Here’s the kicker, the one which stings! A proper stinker.
Rather than discuss in private with Pakatan and when all details have been agreed upon, have a press conference to announce the partnership, Muda has picked the road of humiliation.
They’ve knocked on the gates of the dilapidated Pakatan castle gate, asked to enter, and the guards have told them to wait a while. They are going to have a bit of a chat first. See how it goes. Hey, while you are out here, feed the alligators in the moat since they grow hungry smelling your political desperation!
Like children they wait outside to be called inside.
The calamitous decision has raised questions galore, as observers want to know what this alliance constitutes. So far, it is a series of ambiguous soundbites.
Muda deputy president Amira Aisya Abd Aziz, who spearheads this tie-up, probably realises in drips, regardless of statements henceforth, it made the rookie mistake of putting the cart before the horse.
It is important to announce what is concluded, Muda did not. Now it spends valuable time to explain, reexplain and then repeat to assure supporters of its two almost antithetical positions — that it is fiercely independent with pillars uncompromised, while at the other end of the spectrum it is a harmonious partner to Pakatan’s goals.
The wait raises Pakatan’s worth and relegates Muda, how else did they expect it to look to outsiders? This reminds of the four years Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) tried to join Pakatan (Rakyat, back then) between two elections (2008 to 2013) and meeting after meeting arranged only to rebuff it eventually.
Muda is not PSM in size or potential, but the process of attrition is the same when made to live in political limbo awaiting decisions by political seniors.
A psychological ascendency is formed.
They need us, not the other way around.
The longer this picture is bandied around, the less enamoured the public will be of Muda. And it is to Pakatan’s advantage to tire Muda out, since the latter tends to pull traditional Pakatan votes as evidenced in Johor early this year.
If Muda’s stock dips further, Pakatan may offer instead a partial partnership. Using the excuse of pre-existing agreements forces the coalition to offer Muda token seats, not the 15 asked.
Muda has more than GE15 to contend with. In its hands, the promise of a better and different future.
To its leaders it is a stratagem, but if Pakatan lugs them around as excess baggage of uncertain definition and status till the eve of general elections, they probably end up losing from the dalliance.
What offends more than electoral losses is that Muda loses its essence from the exercise.
Pakatan is led by PKR President Anwar Ibrahim and he is obsessed with the idea of political sucker punches, a high roller in a casino. There are no gambits beyond his consideration. And Muda wilfully puts its chips with him.
The man who thought just him as a symbol in ’98 was good enough to overcome Mahathir Mohamad, claimed in 2008 within six months he’d overturn a healthy parliamentary majority by other means (tomorrow is the 14th anniversary of the failed bid) and repeated the act in 2020 except then he claimed he already had the strong and formidable majority.
1998, 2008 and 2020, three Septembers of intrigue which ended pear-shaped for him. It’s his month to let his followers down and prove to his detractors he is always a maverick, not a political messiah.
Muda now chooses to take the Anwar roller-coaster, and at a time where Pakatan ebbs more than ever.
Since 2019 — despite still being in power — Pakatan has struggled at by-elections and state elections. Only DAP has kept itself solid in these dark days. What is it that Muda seeks to gain from the partnership? Factor too, Pakatan wants Muda to help with GE15 but would not mind if it flounders after it and gets absorbed into the three main parties.
All it has is this.
Muda President Syed Saddiq and its leadership probably have summed it up as such: Umno are the enemy, Perikatan Nasional (PN) a coalition of those fortunately with ministers and likely out of it after GE15, Pakatan is the clearest opponents of Umno-BN.
Therefore, gang up with the obvious partner.
Sharing an opponent is not the same as sharing ideals. The next months are about to school the new party about this distinction.
The train has left the station, so only a GE will deliver a verdict. It bodes ill unless the winds change courses. But as we all notice, the monsoon is getting too predictable.
*This is the personal opinion of the columnist.