“Danger of ideology being tempered by pragmatism of power and materialism”

POLITICS is an interesting and exciting field. There are so many possibilities and non-possibilities. Politics is sometimes referred to as the art of possibility.

In other words, the arena of politics opens up innumerable possibilities. Today’s political enemies can become  tomorrow’s friends.

The range of possibilities is unimaginable. Lately with the impending 15th General Election  (GE15) on the horizon, there are talks about political enemies coming together before and after the election.

If Pakatan Harapan (PH), the opposition, could decide on the impossible feat of making the former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammed its prime minister candidate, then there exists a limitless range of possibilities.

There is looming danger if practical considerations outweigh ideological pursuits. However, with this limitless range of possibilities, the danger of betrayals might be higher than before.

One of the reasons why political parties whether they are in the Opposition or Government can change their stand constantly has to do with the slow but sure withering away of ideology.

Political ideologies taking a backseat? 

Political parties whether in the left, center-left or right function on the basis of pragmatic considerations other than purely ideological.

They have not abandoned their respective ideologies, but these have become subordinated to power and materialism.

In fact, ideologies are often subordinated or used to justify crass material pursuits.

It is not the era of end of history as argued by Francis Fukuyama, but how ideology has become tempered with considerations related to power and material acquisitions.

Prof Ramasamy Palanisamy


Political parties in the opposition front such as PKR, DAP and Amanah are parties based on certain ideological considerations.

Ideology was the key in the formation of these parties for the betterment of the country.

Similarly, political parties in the caretaker Government such as UMNO, Bersatu, PAS and others have sunk their ideologies rooted in race and religion to some extent to pursue power and material gains.

In fact, the ideology of race and religion are used for other purposes that might have nothing to do with the advancement of the Malay race or its religion.

Enemies can become alliances in politics 

There are rumours in the media that there is a possibility that DAP might collaborate with UMNO after the next federal or state election.

 As I have said before, anything is possible in the realm of politics.

Political, social and economic circumstances often determine the kind of political collaborations that are possible.

Right now, it is almost impossible for the political enemies, DAP and UMNO to embrace each other.

The former was formed in opposition to the other. There is too much bad blood between the parties.

In fact, the DAP was formed to oppose the neo-colonial policies of the then Alliance Party in the 1960s.

The  Barisan Nasional (BN) succeeded the Alliance Coalition in the aftermath of the 1969 race riots.

It would be unthinkable for the DAP even to entertain the idea of a political cooperation with UMNO, even though circumstances have changed to the extent where  old and historical memories have faded.

Philosophically it would be wrong and unscientific to straight jacket politics. Anything can happen in the near future.

There are endless possibilities for political collaboration between the Opposition parties and those in the ruling circles.

But however, if the opposition parties return back to their respective starting points, I mean their ideologies, then the possibility of collaboration might be slim or non-existent.

If political collaboration is predicated on the need to capture political power, then there is minimal need to set the ideological parameters as a guide for such a collaboration.

It cannot be for the sake of capturing political power with the subordination of some basic principles of good governance. – Oct 21, 2022


Prof Ramasamy Palanisamy is the state assemblyperson for Perai. He is also deputy chief minister II of Penang.

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.


Main photo credit: AFP

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