WHEN Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim announced that he will be gunning for a parliamentary seat, the country was abuzz, and as always, divided. The announcement was met with loud cheers from one side, aghast and disbelief from the other.
On Jan 7, during Pakatan Harapan (PH)’s convention, four months before the 14th General Elelction, the party declared that should they be able to wrest Putrajaya, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail would be the coalition’s nominees for prime minister and deputy prime minister, respectively.
It was also announced that they would exhaust all legal avenues to free Anwar to allow him to take over from Dr Mahathir and become the country’s eighth prime minister. It was also said a seat would be vacated and he would contest in a by-election.
Pakatan Harapan won. History was made when Dr Mahathir became the oldest democratically-elected prime minister, and Dr Wan Azizah, the country’s first woman deputy prime minister. Subsequently, Anwar was granted a full pardon by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. Everything went according to plan.
Why then is there an uproar when Anwar expressed his intention to re-enter Parliament via a by-election? The objection to this is not confined to the opposition alone; in fact, some of the loudest protests and criticisms come from within PH supporters.
The myriad reasons for their disagreements range from “it goes against the spirit of democracy” to accusations of nepotism, and “why is he in such a hurry?” to “Malaysia is not for the Anwar family to toy with”. Some also are of the opinion that Anwar should wait to get his own mandate in the next general election.
While these reasons are understandable, like those who questioned “why the hurry”, nevertheless, one glaring fact seems to elude a lot of people — this was what was promised, and this is being delivered. So, why now the hullabaloo? Malaysians can’t feign shock when the entire country was told of this plan way before it was to be executed.
Here’s something worth pondering: had there been no agreement to make Anwar the eighth prime minister, and within an established time frame, would PKR have agreed to work with Dr Mahathir’s Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM)? And without Dr Mahathir as the face of the resistance against Barisan Nasional, would PH have won?
The whole “PD Move” has become a fanfare. Some activists, who had stood by PH through the years when they were the opposition, have openly criticised the move. A couple of BN leaders have openly said they would even campaign for the PKR president-elect, while some political enthusiasts want to have their 15 minutes.
While all in PH have officially sanctioned the “PD Move”, the statements aren’t very convincing. Until today, there are rumblings. Perhaps, the most obstreperous disagreement come from the supporters of PPBM and DAP; Barisan Nasional, still reeling from the shock of two former leaders quitting and rumours of an exodus, is boycotting the by-election.
Meanwhile, the date for the by-election has been set for Oct 13. And with all the hullabaloo, it will be a seven-cornered contest for the PD seat.
My constant Twitter troller says the country and the people are still in a state of “democratic euphoria” — that may be the case, but I can’t help but feel that we have evolved into a kvetch society, constantly whining and complaining about anything and everything under the sun, and without cogent and valid reasons.
Rather than be obsessed or caught up with such arguments, we should be more concerned with what the current government is planning to do next. Should we not be more concerned with new developments, plans, blueprints and projects to propel the country forward? The Fourth Industrial Revolution is almost on us — should we not be preparing ourselves? Should we not wonder about the 2019 Budget, the first to be tabled by the new government? What is in store for us? The previous government’s transformation plan — what will happen to that? Will it be continued? How will the new government achieve the dream of “Malaysia Baru”?
Ibrahim Ivan Omar heads Brand Strategy at The In/Out Movement, an ensemble of thinkers, creatives and perfectionists who believe in doing right things right. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter: @ckliio9