By Professor Dr. Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi
In this article, I wish to address my fellow Malaysians on how I would like to see the outcome of the Melaka election because that would be an almost true measure of what is to become of this country in GE15 onward.
My message is that the rakyat can be the true kingmakers and ‘managers’ of this country if we play our cards right and not give in to total despair or even idealistic notions of ‘total change’ harped on by civil society personalities.
The Malays have a saying or a peribahasa “Gajah sama gajah berjuang, pelanduk mati ditengah-tengah”.
We have all studied this statement and can repeat its meaning. But for me, the meaning came very late in life.
When I read The Voyage of Abdullah, the author came upon a Malay man smoking opium. The man sat peacefully within a compound of the house which was dirty and unkempt to the point that Abdullah Munshi asked why he did not take care of his farm and home better?
The man looked at Abdullah Munshi and said lazily, “What for? If I have fat chickens and cows and good padi turnouts, the Raja will send his men to take them away. And when there is a war between two Rajas, my sons and I will be called to fight for one of them and die.”
Thus, the main agreed and popular meaning of the peribahasa is that when two opposing forces fight, the innocents will always suffer.
However, after reading and thinking much about politics in this country, I would propose a new take and meaning of this peribahasa.
I would change it as such “Gajah sama-sama berjuang, pelanduk senyum di tengah-tengah”.
We, the rakyat, are the pelanduk. We can suffer as in the original version of the peribahasa or we can be the kingmakers and winners in my version of the peribahasa.
Which choice is better? Let us examine our short three-year history of politics.
When PH governed, the Malays were frightened because there were too many non-Malays in power. Call the Malays stupid, ignorant or bangang, but what can we do? That’s how they have been bred! Even the so-called ‘educated’ Malays.
Then the country changed hands to PN which ruled as they pleased, worse than a dictator with their ‘false emergency’ and ‘controlled parliament’ strategies that left the rakyat completely helpless and the country’s economies in tatters, not to mention 30,000 COVID-19 deaths in three short years with thousands of hungry families and so many suicides.
PN was a complete failure. Now we have Ismail Sabri and his new memorandum of agreement, Umno and BN combining an understanding with PH.
We are at peace with good results except for a few criminals being off the hook. But we are going somewhere.
Who is not happy? PAS and PPBM are not happy. PN is not happy.
So now in Melaka, the rakyat can play the smart pelanduk, not the suffering one.
We the rakyat can be smart by playing one gajah against another. We can make one gajah friend with another. It’s all up to us.
PN as a leader of government is a complete failure. PH as a complete government brings in some fear. But BN which has a long track record of good and ok-lah governance, for me looks pretty attractive.
But, I would feel safer if BN forms a government with the PH with BN as the top dog.
Sorry guys, but that’s my wish. My civil society friends can call me a traitor, but I am an academic and a pragmatist. I have ideals, morals and visions although I know change takes time and a step by step approach.
The civil society wants total and complete clean slate of ‘independent candidates without parties’ who can bring change to the civil institutions, religious institutions, academic institutions, the police, MACC and many things. That is not possible, my dear citizens.
Unless there is a military coup, then it is possible-lah…but will the change last?
For me, we the rakyat must have ideals, vision, hope and clarity of judgment to shift change by playing politics with the politicians.
Now, it is time that we become politicians by working with anybody and everybody and do whatever it takes within the constitutional game board to encourage change.
We need to tamper our idealism with strategies. We need to tamper our morality and judgment of people like Najib and Zahid and make use of them like they have used us for 40 years. Now we use them.
Ok-lah, they will eventually escape justice but we will exact a price on their freedom by playing with them until a fine day of reckoning.
In conclusion, we must be thankful that there is a serious rift between PPBM and Umno. We must also be thankful that PAS people believe in money and power and not Allah or the Prophet.
We must give this country back to the ones who have governed it the longest but we must do so with the proviso that there is some new players in PH like DAP, PKR and Amanah as the agents for change in future.
We do not want a BN-controlled solely by Umno Baru old boys but some new blood too.
We cannot and must not entrust Malaysia or Melaka to an opportunist party of frogs and a party that thinks they can define a religion in their own distorted way.
(Professor Dr. Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi is Professor at a local university.)