By Abdul Rashid Hasnol
FOR the longest time, the battlelines among Malaysian political parties have been clearly demarcated. For example, Umno has always been clashing with Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), set up by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, an ex-Umno leader following a bitter power struggle in 1998.
The Chinese-dominated DAP, meanwhile, has always been at odds with Umno, which the former accused of being a right-wing Malay nationalist party out to subjugate the rights of minority groups.
But over the past few months, the inter-party dynamics in Malaysian politics has seen a dramatic shift. Malaysians not following local political developments closely can be forgiven for not being able to catch up with which party is now in who’s good books.
Just recently, Anwar dropped a bombshell by announcing that PKR has been in touch with top leaders in Umno to explore possible collaboration. Both parties have been at each other’s throats since the inception of PKR. Rivalry between both parties run deep, with Anwar having been touted for the past 23 years, as the opposition party’s PM-designate, a post held by Umno for 61 years until 2018.
But now, Anwar had extended an olive branch to his Umno counterpart, Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi. The only thing both parties have in common is their desire to get rid of Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, the president of Bersatu.
PKR is not alone in reaching out to Umno, and vice versa. The DAP, Umno’s archnemesis, too has seen its long-held animosity towards the Malay-based party lowered several notches, also for the sake of ousting Muhyiddin.
Party organising secretary Anthony Loke had admitted to the possibility of joining forces with Umno, such as when both parties ganged up to oust Bersatu’s Menteri Besar in Perak and Johor last year.
However, his boss and outgoing DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng drew the line when it came to forming a political pact with Umno during the next general election. For now, both parties will focus on pushing for Parliament to be convened.
But since 2018, Malaysians have wisened up to the idea that when it comes to seizing power, our politicians will stop at nothing, including reaching out to their bitter rivals, just as how ex-PM Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Anwar joined forces to remove Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak in the last general election.
In fact, with expectations heightened that snap polls may be called as early as August when the Emergency ends, and the court cases of several MPs nearing conclusion, voters are bracing for more backroom horse-trading and political bargaining.
Some analysts have predicted that as things stand, no single party or coalition will be able to command a majority in the Dewan Rakyat after the election. As can be expected, political negotiations have begun in earnest even now, not just after the polls.
On their part, many voters are already resigned to the reality that they are just pawns in a game of deceit, double-crossing and deception. Voters’ mandate will once again be undermined by party-hopping and vote-buying.
Be that as it may, voters are still keeping watch. While their hands are tied over what politicians do after the last votes have been tallied, voters are ready to wield the big stick at the ballot boxes on those who have wavered from their ideals and put their political ambitions above the peoples’ interests. – March 31, 2021
Abdul Rashid Hasnol is a FocusM contributor.
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.