The “New Malaysia” of Pakatan Harapan cannot double park on a yellow line. The yellow line was drawn by five Bersih rallies; a large majority of Malaysians who were fed up with kleptocratic politics and double talk and a coalition of the elite who overlooked their previous grievances to overcome their decades-long animosity across various party divides.
More importantly, the “New Malaysia” has no “reverse gear.” If cannot go back in time to draw PAS into the fold – with the “I told you so” – because PAS was adamant to be with Umno having, allegedly, benefited financially from it.
Their former deputy president alone, Nashuddin Mat Isa, who allegedly served as the in-between of Umno and PAS is now slapped with legions of money laundering charges.
Those in PAS and Umno are united on one cause only, to form an ultra-Malay government at all costs, to get themselves off the hook of the MACC. Why not? All of them are staring at serious jail terms that will destroy their dynastic politics forever.
Thus the “back door” government which PAS and Umno tried to engineer is strictly the politics of the old: it is the old hacks saving themselves. One might even call it the old ganging up to save their gold; in order to keep them in the fold of Umno and PAS under various nominee accounts.
This is why Umno and PAS cannot be the backbone of the “New Malaysia”. And the fissures they cause would be deadly and serious. First of all, the ultra-Malay identity politics are anti-market and anti-state; which is precisely why they don’t have an agreement on how to govern Malaysia even if they are lucky enough to snatch a simple majority by 2023.
Secondly, allowing PAS and Umno to form any prospective government is akin to asking all 32 million Malaysians, of various religious persuasions, to take that leap into the dark. If Harapan has to struggle, for now, with the absence of a clear timeline of transition, imagine how an Umno and PAS pact without a manifesto, let alone a common outlook, except to get out of jail, would look.
Some would be running to Switzerland. Others would probably run to the Middle Eastern countries.
Thirdly, there is the strange phenomenon of Azmin Ali of PKR and Hishammuddin Hussein of Umno having their holiday in Morocco. What is there that is so enervating that they must meet there? That is a manifestation of Umno, PAS and a potential breakaway faction from PKR trying to get the numbers right. But they can never get it right because the identity politics of Sarawak and Malaysia is not necessarily pro-ultra Malay.
Malaysia cannot go back to the past, or as one ancient Greek philosopher once said, one cannot “dip into the water twice, and emerge from it the same.” PAS, for the lack of a better word, has been outgunned by Amanah. Whether it was a knife from the front, or, a proverbial bullet from the back, PAS is spent; just as Umno is emasculated by the existence of Bersatu day by day, even though Umno insists that Bersatu has had no impact on it.
How can Umno suffer no impact when Umno’s funds are frozen while Bersatu’s aren’t? One can shop for options, the other has to step aside.
The global economic order is not written in Arabic. Even in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha or Jeddah, they are run by expatriates and foreign overseas workers. PAS cannot run to them anymore. Umno and PAS are finished. What has not set in is rigor mortis.
Dr. Rais Hussin is President & CEO of EMIR Research, a think tank focused on data-driven policy research, centered around principles of Engagement, Moderation, Innovation, and Rigour.