DECEMBER 16 — After waves of defections in Sabah, potentially across the country, Kim Quek an independent writer affirmed that Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad must resign to “save Reformasi.” The embedded argument of Kim Quek seems to be this: Tun Dr Mahathir, by extension Bersatu, is trying to “sleep with the enemy” which is Umno.
There are five powerful reasons why Dr Mahathir and Bersatu need not be apologetic on the wage of defections. Kim Quek should get a pen and a paper to note them down, precisely because these arguments will only be made once, and they are final.
First of all, defections do not automatically mean that all these MPs, assemblymen and Senators, will join Bersatu, as Datuk Seri Mukriz Mahathir explained to the media yesterday. If anything, one joined Amanah in Sabah last week. Many remain independents, as they would be subject to further scrutiny to verify if they have truly repented.
As things are, Bersatu has not become the most powerful party in the parliament, contrary to what some press reports have said. At 19 Members of Parliament, Bersatu remains a minority party. In contrast, DAP alone has 42 Members of Parliament, while PKR of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim a fraction more at 50 MPs. Such numbers are telling. Bersatu remains well behind.
Secondly, not unless all 47 remaining MPs in Umno do join Bersatu (but no one else) can one claim that Bersatu has become the most powerful party in Malaysia. This is by absorbing the ranks of Umno that continue to rankle under the leadership of President Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi.
However, as can be demonstrated by the statements of Dr Mahathir and Tan Sri Muhyddin Yassin, only Umno members who have not got themselves enmeshed with the grand corruption of the previous administration would be entertained as aspiring members of Bersatu. Even this statement was made with the caveat that the Presidential council of Pakatan Harapan will be kept informed of each of these “movements.”
Thirdly, counterparts like DAP and PKR in Pakatan Harapan have repeated time and again that they won't work with former Umno members with suspicions motives. Dr Xavier Jayakumar, a party stalwart in PKR of Anwar Ibrahim, has gone as far as insisting that these former Umno members can only be accepted, if they are willing to serve as the whistle blowers against their old party.
They must also pledge their loyalty to the incoming prime minister of Malaysia which is Anwar. Gobind Singh of DAP did not go as far, but he did register his vehement comment that DAP won't work with rotten apples from Umno, which pretty much characterise the party's stance as a No.
Fourth, when component parties of Pakatan Harapan are dead set against the derelict members of Umno, Bersatu cannot disrespect the views of other component parties too, and Bersatu won't. Besides, it boggles the mind that the rise and fall of Reformasi is now contingent on removing Dr Mahathir as Kim Quek asserted.
Wasn't Dr Mahathir who was the first to be brought into the fray to face Umno and PAS down on May 9, 2018? He did his job, and Umno and PAS are still reeling, precisely due to his larger than life role to defeat them.
Fifth, the level of support of Malays after May 9, while encouraging, remains low at 25-30 per cent. To create a new Malaysia, where 60 to 65 per cent of the population of the country are Malays, it goes without saying that Pakatan Harapan must not be too quick to spurn their Malay representatives.
Anwar would have no problem in accepting the MPs and state Assemblymen too as and when they decide to pledge their loyalty to him.
In all, Umno is difficult to digest as an entity. This is why Pakatan Harapan must be alert and vigilant in accepting some and not all. Besides, there is nothing sinister about interacting with the defecting Members of Parliament if they haven't been charged or convicted by the rule of law.
* Rais Hussin is PPBM’s strategist.
** This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.