EVEN if Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim can live up to his boast that he will topple the government on Sept 16 – we seriously doubt that because if he had the numbers, he would have already – he really, really should not.
He must accept the people’s verdict. If he wants to gain power, he must do it the straight and correct way, keeping alive both the spirit and the letter of the Constitution – at the polls. Anything else is underhand and shows he has not changed enough.
If he goes ahead, it will be morally repugnant, and will lead to an endless cycle of defections and re-defections which will further destabilise the already volatile political scenario. An excessive predilection with politics will come at the expense of other things that government must do and will cost the country dearly.
The figures show that it is not impossible for Anwar to do the unthinkable. There are 25 parliamentary seats in Sabah and 31 in Sarawak and only one from each state is in opposition hands. Anwar has said that if he comes to power, he will give these states an oil royalty of 20% against 5% currently. There are other dissatisfied MPs in the peninsula who would cross over for the right price, even if it is not money.
If 13 MPs from Sabah, 10 from Sarawak and seven from the peninsula crossed over, Anwar would have his 30. But at what price? Are these MPs crossing because they honestly believe in Pakatan Rakyat and its concepts? Money is not the only corrupting influence, power is too. And with power you can make money.
What assurance is there that if they cross to Pakatan, they won’t go back to Barisan Nasional for the right incentives? Is it not more than likely that the Perak state government, where Pakatan has a slender two-seat majority, won’t collapse when a government with a majority of 58 seats, just eight short of two thirds, can?
If Peninsular Malaysians have utter disdain for their politicians, multiply that by 10 for Sabahans and Sabah politicians. Such is the situation in Sabah that nobody but nobody believes that any politician there acts in the interest of the public. The name of the game is self-interest. Ditto for Sarawak.
Are these the kind of people that Anwar wants to populate the ranks of the Pakatan leadership after the change?
Are these the kind of leaders who would lead the charge against corruption, patronage and nepotism?
What kind of a message would he be sending?
It would be the same old game all over again – the rape and pillage of Sabah and Sarawak. Unbelievably, Sabah is the poorest state in Malaysia (one in five Sabahans is poor), Sarawak not much better. How could that be with so much land, resources and so few (relatively) people? The answer: corruption.
Anwar, will you be helping the people if you put 20% of the oil revenue of these states into the hands of these politicians as you have said you will if you came into power with their help?
You, Anwar, have to become part of the change that you so much want to bring. You can’t be espousing high moral standards and then go out and do something dirty and devious to unseat the government. Your Pakatan now controls five states – show us what you can do with the mandate the people have given you.
With a machinery much smaller than Barisan’s, Pakatan gained major footholds throughout the peninsula. Anwar’s Keadilan itself came back from the brink of extinction with just one seat to become the largest single opposition party with 31 seats. Many political novices were elected just because they were on an opposition ticket.
That happened only because the public clamoured for a major change.
If Pakatan wants to spread its influence to Sabah and Sarawak, let it plant the seeds there now and bring the desired change at the polls.
And if Pakatan gets down to work, really honest work – weeding out corruption, bringing in efficiency, having open tenders etc – Barisan will have to follow or be demolished utterly at the next polls.
But if Anwar topples the government or even continues to threaten to do so, he will be short-circuiting the process and preventing all the changes that the public want.
History will judge him harshly if he does.
Yes, it’s tough for Anwar when there is so much resistance to his political return and there are battles to fight on several fronts. But arguably, the legal system will give him a much better chance now. Not to fight according to his stated principles is to give up the fight itself – he will become the enemy he so abhors.
There is a way out if all political parties come to their senses if only for a while: support a simple piece of legislation – any elected representative automatically vacates his seat if he leaves the party on whose platform he was elected. Then, the will of the people will be maintained and if someone wants to change that he will need to seek a fresh mandate from those he represents.
And finally, everyone can go to work running their state governments and the federal government properly.
If they don’t, they will risk losing their mandates in the next polls because for the first time in Malaysia, there is an alternative.
Question Time, a weekly column, seeks to highlight issues of public importance, stimulate discussion and suggest solutions.
P. Gunasegaram can be reached at email@example.com. Letters can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
click here: Anwar should not even if he could The Sun Daily, Malaysia -