COMMENT BY: ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR M.KRISHNAMOORTHY
Kuala Lumpur – May 9, 2018 was a significant date in Malaysian history. Malaysia made history when the opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan ousted the 61 year long rule of a corrupt Barisan Nasional Government.
A year ago my forecast was, “After May 9, you are on the road to unifying the nation. Any infighting among the coalition will only hurt the unity of the ruling party and Malaysians.”
In Chapter 5 of my book (which was voted as Malaysia’s Reader’s Choice No. 1) May 9 – People Power Saves Malaysia – Mahathir leads the way, “Forgive and Forget for Unity,” I addressed an open letter to the new leaders.
Dear Pakatan Harapan (PH) leaders. Under your government, we all have the right to speak up and voice our opinions. After May 9, you are on the road to unifying the nation. By all means, exercise freedom of speech but do not make slurs; we should be of one race – the human race. May 9 was the day we threw out such racist thinking. Say no to racism. We have gone beyond all that. There is a new thinking now, people power and the supremacy of Malaysians as a whole, and no one race will dominate.
Out went the old guards, and in came the wiser experienced and level-headed guards on May 9. Malaysians celebrated the victory over Barisan Nasional after having been dominated by corruption, racism and authoritarianism for about a decade. As a new political awakening, under Pakatan Harapan (PH)coalition, we have gone beyond racism. Stop the bickering and attacking leaders who are trying to bring the nation together. Never go public to ridicule or attack a leader in the media. Do not ever give room for Barisan or anyone else to mock or scorn PH.
Shockingly, a year later Malaysians are taken aback by the gutter politics and the slurs PH leaders cast at one another. A leading Malaysian lawyer Datuk Watson Peters wrote a letter in The Star: “Malaysians were fed with disgusting sex videos implicating a current minister. What was more disgusting was the subsequent video wherein one Muhammad Haziq Abdul Aziz admitted to his involvement in the alleged event. Even more revolting was the clear pride Haziq took in confessing to the world that he was particeps criminis. The police need not wait any longer to investigate. Haziq has made a voluntary confession of a crime which is clearly codified in the Penal Code.” He called on the government to “End gutter politics and concentrate on serving the people”.
In my May 9th book in another chapter titled: “Stay United as a ruling coalition” I wrote that bickering, in-fighting and jealousy is never good. Whether in personal relationships or within a political party. Ego, hatred and a moment’s anger can break up the unity of any group or result in a leadership crisis. As a crisis management media coach, my only advice is never get into a crisis mode. If any political party or corporate organization gets into a crisis, years of reputation building can be wiped out in seconds.
Unfortunately, what I predicted of an imminent crisis is taking place now as there are threats of the coalition breaking up with Members of Parliament pledging their loyalties to two, the Anwar Ibrahim and Azmin Ali camps.
It is all about the “gutter politics” sex video in which Haziq alleged Azmin Ali, a Cabinet minister was the other person in the video with him. Regrettably, sodomy videos leak to denigrate and destroy political careers of leaders in Malaysia, and as the Inspector General of Police Datuk Seri Abdul Hamid Bador said that thousands of Ringgit was spent in the making of the sex videos. After Sodomy I and Sodomy II, Malaysians are sick and tired of sleazy sex tapes and gutter politics.
Awkwardly, the ruling party Pakatan Harapan, has had internal misunderstandings from the outset from the time when the Cabinet was being appointed. About a year ago, one sensational WhatsApp SMS which was very revealing was on the selection of the first Cabinet lineup. Talking about Anwar, the SMS read: “It is true that his wife Kak Wan (Deputy Prime Minister currently) told Tun M that the Finance Minister position should not go to a Chinese. PKR top leaders walked out during the discussion on the top three positions. Another Cabinet minister confirmed the news in Singapore’s Straits Times then. This news came after Rafizi told Malaysiakini that Tun M “bulldozed” the decision,” the book commented.
Then the Prime Minister’s media adviser Datuk Kadir Jasin wrote: Anwar “baling batu sorok tangan”, meaning that Anwar used Rafizi to cry wolf but everyone knew it was under Anwar’s instructions. After netizens lambasted Rafizi, Azmin refuted the claim that PKR top leaders were behaving like divas, that the PKR top leaders just wanted Tun Dr M to consult Anwar on the appointment.
Today, on Malaysians question: “Did a top leader of PKR have a hand in the surfacing of the sex video tape?” This follows The Star front page statement by the Inspector General of Police commenting that a top leader of political party could have masterminded the video and leaking out in the public.
In the gutter politics crisis taking shape in Malaysia, is there a looming or imminent break up in the ruling coalition Pakatan Harapan? Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad averted a massive crisis when the former Barisan Nasional was trying to remain in power by delaying the GE14 results.
Currently, he is treading a steady tightrope trying to keep the ruling coalition from not breaking up. His honest and straightforward in managing a crisis has helped in keeping the ruling coalition together despite severe gutter politics. As a media coach in crisis management, Dr Mahathir will overcome this imminent crisis as he takes on the media’s question naturally and without any hesitation to speak the truth.
Dr Mahathir averted an election results crisis by managing the situation and carefully steering the media on the right path. All eyes are on him now to steer and chart Malaysia through difficult economic times, terrorism threat and worst of all gutter politics.
In my book, People Power Saves Malaysia in the chapter “Healing Malaysia,” Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim publicly criticised his party colleagues for demanding seats and Cabinet positions. In extracts from the book, Anwar reminded them that those who voted in Pakatan also voted out the politics that reeked of favouritism and reward for loyalty, and not ability.
The book cites, about a year ago: “Anwar also indicated he was in no hurry to become Prime Minister, telling a Malay daily that he was looking forward to contesting a parliamentary seat and becoming a backbencher – something he never had the chance to experience. So then, with a line seemingly drawn in the sand over the country’s leadership transition, one cannot help but be perturbed as to why there are sudden noises that seem to suggest that certain parties are not honouring the succession agreement. Anwar also admitted to using Dr Mahathir himself where the latter did the difficult job of cleaning house so that Anwar could start afresh. As far as the nation is concerned, Anwar becoming Prime Minister is not the end game here. What is crucial though is that this healing nation is not put through another leadership tussle,” noted former journalist Terence Fernandez in his column published in The Star.
M KRISHNAMOORTHY is a media coach, associate professor and a certified Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) trainer. As a journalist, he has highlighted society’s concerns and has gone undercover as a beggar, security guard, blind man, handicapped, salesman and as a Member of Parliament. He also freelances as a fixer/coordinator for CNN, BBC, German and Australian TV networks and the New York Times.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of The Independent Singapore.