Malaysian democracy has been in a loop phase over the last two years, with political leaders posturing and trying to look good in the short term rather than doing the groundwork needed for long-term success.
The great fear of losing political power has resulted in unbelievable actions by groups wanting to cling on to power. When you are in this loop, you just don’t worry about destroying institutions that keep democracy alive.
Malaysians are witnessing this because of changing political fortunes. If the politicians continue playing the game of winning elected representatives to their side for the sake of keeping power, the nation will eventually lose. And the doom loop, if not snapped, will lead to a failed nation for sure.
We are seeing political compromises that are unbelievable, from one end of the spectrum to the other. We saw the key parties central in bringing down the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government in 2020 – Bersatu and Umno – locked in a bitter feud this year.
Well, perhaps not the entire Umno leadership but the incessant attacks on Muhyiddin Yassin by top Umno leaders in the few months before he resigned must have hit his jugular.
After three years of absence following its loss at the 2018 general election, Umno is back in the driver’s seat. And guess what? The man who they brought down is now back helming the important National Recovery Council as its chairman, with ministerial status. He was brought in by no less than the person that Umno made prime minister.
Now, the silence from the regular critics of the former prime minister is indeed deafening. The man who they claimed had led to the current disastrous Covid-19 situation seems to be acceptable overnight.
Some of the reactions from Muhyiddin’s harsh critics were just whimpers from the second echelon but the main honchos who were key movers in shortening Muhyiddin’s career have quietened down ‘overnight’.
Party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi simply said he has full trust in the wisdom of Ismail Sabri Yaakob to appoint the best person for the best job.
Najib Razak actually paid a courtesy call on Ismail, both leaders posting pictures of their meeting on social media, affirming a commitment to work together for the good of the nation.
I am sure these leaders are aware that social media is in overdrive, with netizens speculating on the reasons why they have seemingly hit the pause and mute buttons on Ismail’s decisions, from Cabinet choices to Muhyiddin’s appointment.
Political compromise of any kind must not lead to any perception of justice being compromised or else, the doom loop will be complete. And the damage to Malaysia can be irreparable.
It’s no secret that the Umno-Bersatu ties are broken beyond repair while the Umno-PAS relationship remains fragile to say the least.
In such a scenario, Umno will need to do all it can to restore its credibility and public trust among voters, especially Malays, to stand any chance of doing well in the next general election (GE15).
Therefore, the party must continue to stand firm against leaders who it feels are acting against the interest of the people. Muhyiddin bore the brunt of attacks from Najib and Zahid, both of whom took a strong stand against him on his managing of the Covid-19 crisis.
Surely, they must not go soft on Ismail if they are serious about restoring Umno’s credibility and public trust.
Malaysians have grown tired of politicians playing games to achieve their own ends. And so have the Umno grassroots. Any perception that Umno leaders’ support for Ismail is driven by their own personal agenda will be detrimental to the party and yes, our country.
Their soft stand against the controversial decisions by Ismail has become a talking point.
Of course, Umno must give the prime minister time and space to right the wrongs of the previous administration, or at least on issues the party had taken a strong stand.
But the party must be seen as being firm on issues that directly impact the rakyat, and to get Malaysia on the road to economic recovery and bring the pandemic under control.
Most importantly, it must also be seen to be strengthening key institutions like Parliament and the judiciary which are vital cogs in a democracy.
Only by acting without fear or favour against the sitting prime minister will Umno restore its standing among the people it depends on to do well in GE15.