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7:17pm 18/09/2023
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Syed Saddiq’s outburst and positioning of MUDA
By:Charles Chia

I was dismayed when Syed Saddiq announced his withdrawal from the Unity Government bloc.

In the compelling manner characteristic of Syed Saddiq, he made a “very principled” speech, directly criticizing PM Anwar Ibrahim “for abandoning reforms” and declaring that he would be the “Third Force”!

As a result of his withdrawal, the Unity Government lost the two-thirds majority it held in Parliament. This should not, hopefully, hinder the passing of reformist laws.

Holier than thou

Syed Saddiq has the right to be independent and choose not to be part of the government bloc. But is this the right stance to take at this juncture? Is his withdrawal in the best interest of the nation and of MUDA?

The manner in which he quit smacks of self-righteousness and a “holier-than-thou” arrogance.

It is a disappointing move coming from the founding leader of the movement called MUDA whose party shares a program similar to that of PH.

Like debilitating diseases, corruption and poor governance have infected Malaysia up until now.

“Frog jumping” engendered political instability. Stale politicians overstay their welcome and stir up rife. MUDA is, for many, a glimmer of hope in a sea of darkness.

The formation of MUDA was such a welcome breath of fresh air! They were a new brand of politicians — young, dynamic and articulate.

MUDA captured the imagination assuming the role of a reformist party, alongside PKR and its partners in PH.

Unfortunately, Syed Saddiq’s moves since the recent six state elections reveal a lack of tactical shrewdness.

His biggest mistake is to alienate himself from PH supporters who are also MUDA’s supporters (present or potential).

Who says the Unity Government has failed?

Saddiq declared that the PH-led Unity Government under Anwar Ibrahim has failed to honor its election promises.

What evidence is there and who does he intend to convince?

Among Anwar’s supporters, many wish that reform could be pushed through at a faster pace and many do not fully agree with some of his decisions.

For all that, Anwar’s commitment to bringing the ailing nation back on its feet is beyond doubt, for friends and foes alike. It is as plain as day that he is doing his level best to juggle with the given donnés for a semblance of stability, a prerequisite for reform.

The anti-corruption drive is well en route, and so is the need-based poverty alleviation program.

The MADANI economy is being sculpted by means of various reforms.

Anwar shielded the precious multi-ethnic tapestry of Malaysia amidst the harrowing hailstorm whipped up by “green wave” politicians.

For the first time in decades, there are tangible signs of healthy governance.

Criticism is welcome but it is pompous for Saddiq to imply that he (or anyone else for that matter) can do better under the present constraints.

MUDA has that potential but there is also much room to grow, to evolve and to mature.

The Third Force

Third Force politics does indeed have a place in any political system.

Emerging organically from the socioeconomic-politico environment, it is defined by a culture and strategy that is different in essence from the two existing blocs.

How is MUDA’s political program different from PH’s? As an opposition, what alternative policies can Saddiq propose, apart from hooking up with the PAS-PN bloc to attack the Unity Government?

That would be such a shame and misalignment of talent!

Our young vanguard must recognize that it takes commitment to be the Third Force.

MUDA has that potential but there is also much room to grow, to evolve and to mature.

Before MUDA can take on PH, they will have to come forth with a viable alternative in policies and demonstrate a leadership that can garner its own electoral support.

Otherwise, calling itself the Third Force rings hollow. It takes more than impassioned speeches in Parliament to bring about reform

Bide one’s time to strike

韬光养晦 is a Chinese saying which means “lie low and bide one’s time to strike.”

A young and weak dragon, as the saying goes, should lie low in the field without its head exposed. When it is powerful and full of vigor, it should roam the skies and bring benefit to all the people.

An old dragon should know when to quietly withdraw from the scene.

MUDA has to find its positioning, re-strategize and re-look its priorities. Instead of being caught up with electoral politics, dissipating its energy and financial resources by losing all the seats contested, MUDA should concentrate on building up its rank and file.

A leadership core that is dedicated to a common ideology and in for the long haul is indispensable.

MUDA’s biggest asset is its youthfulness, and time is on its side.

MUDA aspirants need to mingle with the common people in order to know first-hand the problems that they face. This very process will heighten their political awareness.

Without feeling the pulse of the rakyat, how can they prescribe solutions that will effectively cure the country of its ills?

Rome was not built in a day

A person who has been through the mill will not easily dismiss Anwar’s struggle for reform with a single stroke.

Anyone with experience in social movement is, on the contrary, humbled by Anwar’s visionary grit and endurance.

I actually harbor high hopes for the role MUDA can play in Malaysia.

Syed Saddiq is a gifted orator but he has made some serious faux pas. He does not see the “big picture” and cannot discern friends from enemies.

Unless he sharpens his political acumen, he may end up a mere political performer instead of a political reformer.

(Charles Chia is Committee member of Monsoons Malaysia.)

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