No convenient leap of faith with crossovers — Rais Hussin

DEC 20 — Defectors in Umno are having a field day. But if they are corrupt, their move is akin to jumping from a frying pan to a hot pot. Period.

Pakatan Harapan (PH) was not built like a Noah’s Ark. To the degree Umno’s proverbial rats and all want a spot in it, they better be disease free: Which means zero corruption, and zero toleration for past, present and future corruption.

In the legal justice system of the US, the spiralling crimes have led judges to declare “one strike and you are out”. The same analogy and dynamics should apply to the defectors in Umno.

Corruption, as the late Professor Syed Hussin Alatas once wrote, is a “cancer”. If PH takes more defectors without any stringent process of vetting, what started out as a process to liberate the country, the storming of the Bastile equivalent to the French Revolution in 1789 if one may, will lead to the terror of Roberspiere.

Rafizi Ramli’s argument that blind defections can be counter-productive, in this sense, echoes the view of Abdul Kadir Jasin. That Bersatu or any other party from PH cannot be “too cheap”.

Some of these defectors have files of alleged corruption, malfeasance and abuses of power, as thick as the KLCC Twin Towers. Receiving some of those unworthy lot would be similar to committing collective suicide even before PH can reach the half way line of the next general election in 2023.

As things stand, PH and all should be focused on getting the economic statecraft right. The ship is listing. If Tun Dr Mahathir, the Prime Minister who got PH on a dry path on May 9, is being deeply affected too, with his popularity diving by almost 20 per cent, as claimed by Rafizi Ramli in each state, then the policies of PH either at the Federal or State levels are not working.

Though, it is to be construed as an early warning signal from Rafizi, the poll methodology employed to arrive at the decline of 20 per cent approval rate is not clear and at best murky. Be that as may, Rafizi is not the type to shy away from making abrasive comments publicly with specific design behind it. Sometimes he gets it correct, other times he gets it wrong like his findings on PAS pre GE14 where he predicted zero seat for them based on his polls. The strength of any research or polls are hugely contingent upon methodology as sometimes there can be an “outcome based research” or “research-based outcome”. In the former, one would want to control narratives by pre-determining the outcome, then justifying it through research verbosity.

Yes, one can continue to blame the previous administration. As one should. But in “the long term we are a dead”, as John Maynard Keynes once said, when designing any economic policy.

Thus PH cannot sit on its laurels. On May 9, those who rose earliest to queue at the polls were economic voters, driven by their aspiration for a better future. Factors like race and religion have always been important but not the necessary nor sufficient trigger to rally the people to the front of the anti-corruption war against Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

In fact, any attempts to ignore the economic reality at hand — with an undue neglect of vetting — will lead to a systemic short circuit. When PDI in Mexico lost its power in 2000, an electoral victory which allowed Vicente Fox to be the president, after breaking the monopoly of PDI since the early part of the 20th century, Mexicans from around the country continue to insist on gauging the performance of Fox, a senior decision maker of Coca-Cola, on his ability to govern well.

When he couldn’t measure up, Mexicans threw him out of office by the end of his first term. Nor did Vicente Fox demur. As a top corporate person, he knew that if he couldn’t perform his head would roll. He took it like a man in his chin.

Malaysians of all creed and class should be wary of things that are too good to be true too. Foremost of which is the massive defection of and from Umno leaders.

Unless PH has the courage to cleanse and reform the entire system, the implications from these defections can be dire; even if not all of UMNO leaders are bad to the core.

As things stand, however, the reality is also this: Some MPs and state assemblymen from Umno, while guilty by association with the kleptocracy of Najib, may not be entirely guilty per se as yet.

Guilt by association is how Joseph McCarthy launched his crazed anti-Communist Crusade in the United States. It is also how the Chinese Communist Party is now punishing the Uyghur Muslims. Not unless the evidences are strong, that they committed or abetted some form of grand larceny connected to 1MDB or Tabung Haji, some process of vetting must still be given a chance to breathe its first life; consequently, before it is savaged as a ridiculous idea to begin with.

Indeed, granted the moral opprobrium of defections — justifiably contemptuous too — the righteous leaders in PH need to consider the various scenarios now.

Those who looked the other way, when the kleptocracy was in full bloom, especially after the revelations of the US Department of Justice in June 2015, must be penalised.

They cannot come into any political parties, let alone any corporate entities which belong to the government, expecting the chance to, once again, reap the rewards of incumbency (of being in office).

More likely they took some things too. If so, what then are the conditions for restitution? Would it involve a (political) debarment of five years, which is an electoral cycle? Or two years moratorium on holding any political leadership in the party?

And, if the investigation of MACC and the Police Commercial Crime Division is ongoing, nor can they be allowed to join any party.  If anything, they cannot be permitted into any parties as a full member too, let alone be nominated as a future senator.

A full check list of the disclosure of their assets and the family assets of their family, over the last three to five years, is also something that can be explored. Furthermore, they must be prevented from any prospective Cabinet positions. These are some of the conditions that must be brought to the attention of the Presidential Council as soon as possible.

It is important that these discussions are best be done behind closed doors amongst the PH leaders at PH Presidential Council to address these issues carefully and tactfully. Yes, Rafizi has sounded the proverbial trumpet as an early warning signal, as bad news is better to be known now and today than later, so that PH can address it credibly and deliver on the promise. Only that it would have been better if it is done through internal channels. As I have always argued for coalition discipline towards rebuilding the nation.

*Rais Hussin is Chief Strategist of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia.

*This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.