MARIAM MOKHTAR’S take on Pakatan’s defeat in Semenyih.
There is no need for Pakatan Harapan (PH) ministers, political analysts and think tanks to waste sleep or good money on detailed analyses of the Semenyih by-election defeat.
The people dished out free advice over several months, but the ministers did not listen. Some were cocky and many were inaccessible. Like the former Umno/Barisan Nasional (BN) ministers who lost in GE14, PH ministers appear to have copied the art of staying safely in their ivory towers.
They appear to be still drunk on their victory in GE14. They were arrogant and complacent and probably thought that they could pull off another win without working hard as a team.
The signs of PH’s slide into the gutter were there for all to see, even from last May. Take, for example, Perak. PPBM won the fewest seats there but its candidate was still installed as menteri besar. He had little experience and his only quality appeared to be jumping to the defence of his former peers in Umno. In Putrajaya, meanwhile, people who can’t even make a decent cup of tea were elevated to ministerial positions and tasked with making major policy decisions.
In recent weeks, hills around the Ipoh town centre have been denuded of trees and vegetation. Further afield, timber concessions were awarded to companies without an open tender – in other words, the new menteri besar is apparently continuing the Umno-BN style of management.
The Perak administration decided that Muslim men could be fast-tracked into polygamous marriages. Orang Asli rights were swept aside. Uncollected rubbish along the roads appeared to mirror the state of the Perak administration.
The PH election machinery failed to show teamwork, failed to take advantage of social media, failed to show that its ministers care, failed to address bread-and-butter issues, and – worst of all – failed to capture the hearts and minds of the voters.
Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman told Malaysians that rushing through reforms would ensure a PH loss in GE15 – ironic, given the Semenyih loss just a week later.
Prime minister-in-waiting, Anwar Ibrahim, said the defeat gave PH an idea of the people’s sentiments, especially those of the Malays. He said, “We must take these into consideration and carry out our duty well. PH should represent the sentiments, needs and aspirations of all the races in Malaysia.”
He appears muddled – why is he contradicting himself?
Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, meanwhile, said the issues in Semenyih need time for in-depth analysis. She said, “We have a democratic system. We have choices and we want the people to know we do our best for them.”
What have they been doing all this time? Few of the changes promised at GE14 have been implemented. How much in-depth thinking is needed, for instance, to ban child marriages and reform the shariah system of justice?
Economic Affairs Minister Mohamed Azmin Ali has touted the Malay agenda line, as has Minister for Islamic Affairs Mujahid Rawa. They seem unaware that they cannot flog a dead donkey forever. Affirmative action policies have been around for five decades. They have only benefitted the elite Malays and should be scrapped.
Many Malays realise that a lack of competition and meritocracy has left them weakened. An emphasis on religion is pointless and hypocritical if religious leaders themselves admit to lying about accepting money taken from the taxpayers.
The day after the Semenyih defeat, the ministers showed us their lack of vision, imagination and clarity of mind and purpose. They simply repeated the Umno-PAS party line of restoring “the Malay agenda”.
Umno acting president Mohamad Hasan credited former prime minister Najib Razak for BN’s win, but he is wrong. The PH defeat was entirely the fault of its ministers, who were complacent, arrogant and unprepared. – FMT
(Mariam Mokhtar is an FMT columnist and these are her personal views.)