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A battle with no clear winner in sight

  • Political parties on both sides of the divide must stop all unwarranted fights right away and focus on fixing our ailing economy and promoting inter-community understanding.

Sin Chew Daily

The opposition and rightist organizations attribute the PH government's decision not to sign ICERD (International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination) to their victory.

So, that gives them a good cause to step up their effort.

For example, they insist to go ahead with their planned rally at Dataran Merdeka on December 8, arguing that it is for celebration and thanksgiving, but in reality, they are making it a platform to hit back at PH, DAP in particular.

Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the announcement by the prime minister's office of not signing ICERD was not quite right formality-wise. Instead, a motion signed by the prime minster should be tabled in the Parliament with the minutes clearly recorded.

PAS information chief Nasrudin Hassan feels that the government not only must reject ICERD, but also five other UN conventions on human rights.

Gagasan 3 leader Ragvinder Singh Jess, meanwhile, has alleged that "Bangsa DAP" is the country's number one enemy.

In short, these people are trying to create trouble to avenge the prosecution of opposition leaders by the government.

As if that is not enough, Umno is also making attempts to incite internal conflicts within the PH coalition. Perak Umno chairman Saarani Mohamad has claimed that more than one state exco has approached five Umno state assemblyman in private in a bid to table a no-confidence motion against menteri besar Ahmad Faizal Azumu, hinting at possible collapse of the state government.

This tactic is said to be a strategy adopted by Umno to retaliate PPBM's move to rope in two Umno reps after the May general elections.

Umno is doing so to exert pressure on the new government while giving its members a new goal to fight for.

But Mahathir is not whom one can easily outdo. He defused several major political crises during the 1980s and 90s, and will adopt a new approach this time round to deal with this kind of things in a "New Malaysia" where democracy and freedom are upheld.

Even though Mahathir only has another year and a half to go, the ruling coalition still has plenty of time and strategy to address the burning issue of under-30% Malay support.

As a matter of fact, not signing ICERD has always been a stand PPBM is embracing. The cabinet's decision of not signing ICERD will rob the opposition of a legitimate excuse to hold a massive rally in the capital city while taming the boiling emotion.

Some may not have noticed that when Umno was planning an anti-ICERD rally, Najib was alleged to have instructed the tampering of 1MDB audit report, first revealed by Umno-controlled Utusan Malaysia before auditor-general Madinah Mohamad confirmed in a statement two days later that the former PM indeed ordered the removal of certain paragraphs in the audit report, including the one on Jho Low's presence at a board meeting.

During an interview with Sinar Harian, Najib claimed that he was cheated by Low. This was nevertheless rebutted by The Edge Media Group's chairman Tong Kooi Ong, who said Najib was well aware of what Low did.

Utusan's columnist Awang Selamat wrote that if Najib did instruct the omission of certain paragraphs from 1MDB audit report, it was an act of betrayal of public mandate.

As Umno has yet to completely sever its ties with Najib, the party's credibility and support base will be undermined as more and more revelations are made.

With the Sedition Act and Internal Security Act still very much in force, perhaps the authorities should take stern actions against the rightists, and this will effectively mute aggressive and big-mouthed leaders like Sungai Besar Umno chief Jamal Md Yunus.

The PH government can also consider drawing up a racial relations bill to prevent political parties from playing up racial and religious issues in the future.

Even if Umno and PAS manage to retain their support bases in the next general elections, they can clinch at most 60 to 70 seats on Peninsular Malaysia. PH will still be firmly in power if it manages to retain Sabah and expand its influences to neighboring Sarawak.

While in the past PH protested at Dataran Merdeka, it is now Umno's turn to do likewise. The thing is: will they get what they want this time?

Political parties on both sides of the divide must stop all unwarranted fights right away and focus on fixing our ailing economy and promoting inter-community understanding, failure of which will only see a further drop in Malaysians' faith in politics.

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