JULY 4 — To make sense of the world and challenges it threw at him, the titular character Forrest Gump just ran. The movie then ran away with the Academy Awards’ Best Picture in 1994.

Muar MP Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman took heed and ran to Parliament from his land over the weekend. Regardless of what people may surmise about the parliamentarian, ex-president of MUDA and a man waiting for the Court of Appeal — and almost certainly the Federal Court after — to rule if he goes to prison over corruption related charges, charging through 200 kilometres in around three days is no small feat. Even for a 31-year-old.

So, you have to give it to him. Points, coins, chips, records, a cute certificate and the viral media photo, fair game.

At this juncture, we leave him to turn our attention to the other two MPs who joined him for the final stretch, Radzi Md Jidin (Putrajaya) and Wan Ahmad Fayhsal Wan Ahmad Kamal (Machang).

For perspective, by Monday morning when they showed up between LRT KLCC and Parliament House, Syed Saddiq had already run for three days and three nights.

What were they thinking?

The trick to being chivalrous, magnanimous, empathetic, gracious and self-sacrificing in public life — what do I know, I have not won committee member position in my local rukun tetangga, even? — is to appear being all those things to those watching.

Being three days and three nights late, and lurking around the finishing line is not, as they say in politics, a great visual.

Yes, yes, we are still in Malaysia, where the winner of a district badminton competition after triumphing over six opponents over three days gets a medal worth 10 times less than the souvenir the YB who came to present the awards for an hour does.

But our YBs usually look destined for death if they actually attempted a jumping smash, so there’s that.

Possible dead MPs notwithstanding, the message to Radzi and Fayhsal is, it is OK to get better things without deserving it, the rakyat can stomach that, just don’t brazenly claim equivalence by pretending. It’s too much on the nose, even for us.‘We are helpless without the moolah’

Bereft of funds to support Muar, Syed Saddiq did this run. He raised over RM160,000.

Fayhsal claims Perikatan Nasional MPs struggle to serve as resources are not channelled to them, and Unity Government MPs get all the aid possible.This deserves examination.

Did they hold the same opinion when they were in government between 2020 and 2022, and those they chide today were in the Opposition and forced to live their present reality?

Fayhsal was deputy sports minister and Radzi the education minister. Perhaps it’s impossible to see pain when in the ecstasy of motorcades heading to the next cake-cutting ceremony.

Let’s place that tile on the board and return to it later.

For almost the first 40 years parties like DAP operated without federal funds. They ran those service centres in Jelutong, Bukit Bintang and Seremban with just their MP salary and allowances.

If they managed, how come it is nigh impossible for Bersatu MPs even to serve somewhat without money? Are they admitting they are a good deal less resourceful and imaginative than — gasp! — DAP MPs of yore?

Second, the promotion of Pakatan to federal power in May 2018 was built on their 10 years (2009-2018) administrating Penang and Selangor despite the federal government withholding as much as possible from the two states.

The rakyat used it as a test. Both states thrived and Malaysians grew comfortable with the idea of a Pakatan federal government. To overcome adversity is a rite of passage and wins admirers.

Therefore, this is an excellent time for Radzi and Fayhsal to turn this situation on its head.

Radzi’s Putrajaya is the state with the highest mean household income (RM13,473) in Malaysia. An expensively built utopia filled with civil servants and no squatters, no poverty.

Armed with his education, training and governmental experience, can he not devise highly-functioning service centres? Plus, he’d be dealing with civil servants, many openly on his side.

Successes in Putrajaya can be the blueprint to underline Bersatu’s ingenuity, progress and foresight. Wins which are quickly disseminated by the very people who benefit. Everything government passes through Putrajaya.

How about the other dude?

Fayhsal’s Machang has been under Kelantan PAS for 34 years. With state support, can he not initiate projects and galvanise the youthful energies of those in a state where job despairs are long-standing?

Can he not try that?

Maybe it is time Bersatu which leads PN had ideas, innovations and inspirations rather than just bile, rancour and disdain for their political opponents.

The rakyat as seen before may not know great ideas immediately, more so their successful application, but they can sense anger and hate a mile away.

Never denied, never again

Back to the board.

The MPs claim that votes don’t grow on trees and they need money to nurture them, and even with misgivings, it is cynically true. It is also practically true.Funds can mobilise the rakyat towards better.

Then Radzi and Fayhsal should write a private bill which they can turn to as election manifesto if summarily rejected by the government, which spells out non-partisan funding for all political actors — parties, democracy NGOs and think-tanks — and protects and regulates political funding from the private sector and individuals.

This is excellent to underscore they are fighting for principles and not just for their self-interest. To resolve this ever-present inequality problem.

It is persecution regardless of who is persecuted. As long as someone is persecuted there is persecution.

If Radzi and Fayhsal opposed persecution on principle and not simply because they are persecuted in this instance, they stand on the moral high ground. The same ground Pakatan avoided in 2018 when it did not take the opportunity to equalise resources for both government and Opposition parliamentarians. It should regret that, and it being impervious to the moral responsibility presently as part of the Unity government persisting to ignore material needs of opposition MPs is a grievous error and exponentially increases the shame since it is the second time of asking.

The boy in Muar

Fiction is not real. Gump only lives in our minds, while actor Tom Hanks has aged into Hollywood nobility.

Syed Saddiq is real and lives as a parliamentarian neither with Pakatan or Perikatan. The loneliest corner of Dewan Rakyat he sits in with less than a small chance to retain Muar in the 16th General Election without a coalition to cling to.

It is regrettable that idealism is less prevalent on either side of the aisle in Dewan Rakyat than it was expected at the dawn of change in 2018.

To win by Opposition asphyxiation or to counter through relentless vilification is not the high bar of democracy.

When running far, recollections conveniently veer to Pheidippides whose dash from the battlefields of Marathon to Athen in ancient Greece inspired modern day marathons. And the arts learnt and reprocessed it through the final lines of Robert Browning’s ode, aptly titled Pheidippides:

“He saw the land saved he had helped to save, and was suffered to tell,Such tidings, yet never decline, but, gloriously as he began,So to end gloriously — once to shout, thereafter be mute.”

Browning is always a good way to end, as is Syed Saddiq to start.