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Tun M: Weapon of the Weak or Strong?

Citizens of any dispossessed and disenfranchised nation, according to James Scott, often have to resort to "weapons of the weak" to get their voices heard.

Scott, who is an eminent political scientist at the Center of Agrarian Studies at Yale University may well be right.

When robbed of any meaningful chance of change, such as the right to a free and fair election, they may resort to various means to get their voices heard.

Of course, terrorism is often considered the "ultimate," weapon of the weak. This ‘weapon’ should be condemned without fail.

But when Malaysians turn to a former Prime Minister like Tun Dr Mahathir, invariably, to set the previous course straight, one wonders why such a choice needs to be lashed time and again ?

Even the campaign of "Undi Rosak," appears to come on the heels of Pakatan Harapan's decision to turn Tun Dr Mahathir as its leader.

Thus, why does one need to vent such spleen against one man, when the likes of Anwar Ibrahim, Mohamad Sabu, Lim Kit Siang and Lim Guan Eng, all of whom had been unfairly imprisoned by the state before, had unanimously agreed to let put aside their own personal sufferings for the sake of the Nation and its salvation?

In other words, why should their "transactional forgiveness," not be accepted and examplified by all? Everyone should, especially if it is all agreed that the redemption of Malaysia lies in Tun Dr Mahathir redeeming himself first. After all, the current system of corruption did originate from the 1980s, when Tun Dr Mahathir was at the helm. If Tun Dr Mahathir wants to set Malaysia free, shouldn't he be given the chance, perhaps a final one?

Of course, the likes of P Gunasegaran, an avid writer at BizKini, is right to raise the spectre of Tun Dr Mahathir becoming a lapsed alcoholic again; one who will be immediately drunk with power when given a liquored drink.

But in all fairness to Gunasegaran, due diligence should be given to the timing and the operating system of the choice too.

To begin with, Pakatan Harapan has come of age. It is not as ‘naive’ as before. Compared to 1998, or, 2008, the opposition is now more, not less, prepared. This is true from the ground up, as it is from the top down.

If anything, the offer of a prospective premiership, and leadership, was not given to Tun Dr Mahathir on a silver platter. To form a new government, Tun Dr Mahathir is now learning the ropes of politics anew. Not bad for a 92 year old man.

At various meetings and sessions, everyone has had their chance to say their piece, without fail. And, Tun Dr Mahathir has listened intently.

In other words, there is no hegemon in Pakatan Harapan, only a decision making process led by consensus. While this may occasionally be unwieldy, it works.

If anything, Pakatan Harapan, is replete with an immense spirit of give and take, one which seeks to typify the true or average Malaysian at work.

Secondly, while Bersatu led by Tun Dr Mahathir may have the chance to compete in 52 parliamentary seats in Semenanjung, PKR is close behind with 51, while DAP and Amanah have 35 and 27 seats respectively.

Tun Dr Mahathir, for the lack of better word, cannot "game" or engineer the coalition to work in his favor alone. To be in power, he needs the consent of other partners, whose representation are almost proportionate to one another. To implement a policy and mke a decision, when in power, he needs the agreement of the others. This is not BN but PH, a completely different breed of personalities.

Thirdly, with Sarawak and Sabah contributing another 56 seats to the parliament, Tun Dr Mahathir would be literally walking into a loaded political landmine that is the Federation. He cannot do as he pleases anymore.

Thus, he cannot unilaterally attempt any Federal endeavor without the consent of these two states, especially when the local sentiments have captured both the imagination and self belief of the (Malaysian) natives in Borneo.

Finally, while politics may not necessarily reflect anything divine (where forgiveness is vital), the spirit of live-and-let live must, as a rule, become the crucible of any multi ethnic political system too; precisely because anything less would be destructive to the entire edifice.

It is in this vein that Amanah, by extension, Pakatan Harapan, considers it crucial to have the leadership of Tun Dr Mahathir at the fore.

He may not have been the first to light the torch of reforms. But at the very least he is operating in a system of coalition where he can no longer blow out the flame.

This, in a nutshell, is how Malaysia should work. And, it is also a reflection of the weapons of the strong, with Tun Dr Mahathir enabling Pakatan Harapan, and Pakatan Harapan in turn empowering him. And again, to a limit. And it is the strong, which is PH, for only the strong can garner and harness such potential and under such circumstances.

WaLlahu 'Alam
KHALID ABD SAMAD

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