“Dr Mahathir’s pact with PN seeks desperate Malay support”

THE idea of Perikatan Nasional (PN) embracing the two-time prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad might be predicated on the notion of leaving no stone unturned in the quest for Malay support in the coming state elections.PAS and Bersatu are not that confident in repeating the same performance as was the case in the 15th General Election. Much water has passed under the bridge since Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim took power in November 2022.The Finance Minister might be eight months in power but he is sending the right messages to the people, especially in the B40 group.He has taken a firm and uncompromising stand against corruption, adopted measures needed to address poverty, controlled food prices and stabilised the ringgit.Anwar knows very well that despite the race and religious rhetoric from the opposition, bread and butter issues are important for the poor and needy.PAS knows that its mesmerisation of the Malay folks in states like Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu might be a pyrrhic phenomenon.At the end of the day, for the people there must be food on the table, money to spend on basic items and others. Ideology alone whether racial or religious cannot sustain political support for a long time.If PAS cannot even resolve the basic water needs of the people in Kelantan, then what is the point of talking about grandiose ideas of life and afterlife?The Tambun MP’s recent whirlwind tour of states might be dismissed as publicity stunts geared for the coming elections but the fact that he is sending the right and appropriate messages to address the needs of the poor cannot be dismissed.In fact, the bread and butter talks about Anwar might be causing panic in the ranks of the opposition. No other PM in the past has spent so much time and energy talking about abject poverty as Anwar. He might have been only eight months in office, but the messages to the poor are loud and clear.The fact that PN has embraced Dr Mahathir says much about the kind of pact.Realistically speaking, there is a trust deficit between Dr Mahathir, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Tan Sri Abdul Hadi Awang. But since they have come together in a synthetic embrace, political desperation cannot be ruled out.After a period of political hiatus especially after Dr Mahathir lost badly in the last federation elections in Langkawi, there is a sense of desperation on the part of Muhyiddin and Hadi.There is a feeling that by bringing Dr Mahathir into the opposition fold, there is a possibility that Malay support can be enhanced. The PN leaders know very well based on past experiences, that Dr Mahathir cannot be trusted.In the Sheraton Move, Dr Mahathir essentially betrayed Muhyiddin and Datuk Seri Azmin Ali, the coup leaders. There is no guarantee that Dr Mahathir might not pull the same thing with Muhyiddin and Hadi.However, the coming together even if it is temporary is just a move to wean Malay support from the Pakatan Harapan-Barisan Nasional pact.For PN leaders, even if the Malay Proclamation, the ‘Malay-ness’ of the Federal Constitution and other racist stunts of Dr Mahathir are incomprehensible or bizarre, as long as these can gain Malay support in the state elections, they are prepared to condone them. – July 20, 2023


Prof Ramasamy Palanisamy is the DAP state assemblyman 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: FMT

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