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Good governance not never-ending Games of Thrones

  • Malaysian politics cannot be completely disentangled from economics, which is why all sides want to be the top dog in the government.

By Datuk Wira Dr. Rais Hussin Mohamed Ariff

The word par for the course may be borrowed from the game of golf. But it is also an unwritten rule of politics that the whole goal of being in politics is to be in power. In Malaysia, small as it is in terms of the size of its population, as compared to Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, or, even India and China, the people involved in the political arena has taken politics beyond the threshold of what can now be known as the never ending Games of Thrones. Who can be the next Prime Minister?

The irony of the Games of Thrones was that it was known by the lawmakers and aspiring politicians prior to the 14th General Election that this would be the weakest of Pakatan Harapan's armor to go into battle with the then still formidable Barisan National (BN) especially Umno.

Therefore, all key members of Pakatan Harapan, without fail, named Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as the Prime Minister in Coming, once Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad has become the Prime Minister of Malaysia; as the latter himself had then, and now, still preferred. For the lack of a better word, the politics of Pakatan Harapan should not have had to experience what one is witnessing now in Malaysia, with the Minister of Economic Affairs taking the charge of the light brigade to go against his own party President.

There are five strategic dangers while the perpetual quest for the office of the Prime Minister will upend the New Malaysia as we know it. First and foremost, former Prime Minister Najib Razak is biding for time.

He has even returned as the advisory member to BN. Zahid Hamid, the former deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia has also surfaced as the President of Umno. In other words, the proverbial "snake heads," are not life less but can still bite and deliver their lethal venom even when they are cut off from their bodies. BN and Umno, together with PAS, loom large. They don't have to do anything concrete and serious, even as a mediocre opposition, to gain their trajectory of electoral support by the 15th General Election.

Pakatan Harapan, once again for the lack of better phrase, can be thoroughly defeated; allowing the kleptocrats and their ilk to make a quick come back, to deliver a coup de grâce against all that the Malaysian voters had voted for on May 9 2019, which is a clean and competent government.

Second, Malaysia has a bureaucracy of some 1.5 million civil servants across the Federation of thirteen states. They should be non-partisan and are sworn to be non-partisan.

But when the government of Pakatan Harapan cannot operate in tandem with what had been promised to the people, or in accordance to the Manifesto of Pakatan Harapan, then the civil servants will not ride above the parapet to serve the people: they will watch at the sideline, quietly, perhaps sheepishly, to find out who will win the Games of Thrones first before they start putting on their thinking, and working, hats. A never ending Games of Thrones, in other words, not only legitimize the civil servants to see, hear and say no evil, but they will be dysfunctionally neutral.

Third, a dysfunctionally neutral civil service can lead to a self-inflicted harm on the political economy of Malaysia. There are more than 900 government linked investment companies that command up to 70 per cent of the equities or financial weight in the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange (KLSE).

When the civil service does not work actively to enhance the welfare of the people, the GLCs cannot work in tandem with the government to produce the necessary deliverables. The net outcome is a slow motion paralysis of the Malaysian Incorporated, where corporate fat cats who have already cashed out prior to the conclusion of the last general election, just need to wait their turns for the government to collapse so that the Wheel of Fortune can turn again to their favorite group of politicians to butter their breads again.

Fourth, if the never ending Games of Thrones continue unabated, with or without any reference to the sex video, which has been proven to be authentic by the Inspector General of Police himself, the international investors would prefer to place their bets on and in other countries. Cambodia and Laos are two of the fastest rising economies in Southeast Asia with a growth rate of 6.9 and 7.1 per cent respectively. Their currencies are semi-pegged to the US dollar, and their financial backers are China too. Why should the international business community take Malaysia seriously ?

They won't when there is a perpetual game of one upmanship to dethrone Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, the anointed successor of Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir.

Finally, the supporters of the Never-ending Games of Thrones bound to lose all if they are throwing all their lot to Azmin Ali. The economic base of Azmin Ali is in Selangor. Unlike the days of Khalid Ibrahim, the former Chief Minister of Selangor, who built up the reserves of the Selangor coffer, no one knows how much Selangor government still possesses.

For all that one know, Selangor government too is taking on waters; which explains why the Malaysia economy seems to be sputtering to a stop as 25 per cent of the Malaysian Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is indeed from Selangor.

Malaysian politics cannot be completely disentangled from economics, which is why all sides want to be the top dog in the government. But if rabies had set in, manifested as they are by the signs of wanting to take a big bite of everyone, including their own party President, then the signs are not healthy at all that they can lead Malaysia at all. The blame of ruining the new Malaysia rests on them: the dogs of war no less. New Malaysia be warned.

(Datuk Wira Dr. Rais Hussin Mohamed Ariff is PPBM Supreme Council Member.)

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