Growing skepticism over Malaysia's political confrontation: Sin Chew Daily columnist

Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak (left) and former prime minister Mahathir Mohammad.
Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak (left) and former prime minister Mahathir Mohammad. PHOTOS: REUTERS, EPA

The problem lies with ballooning executive power, which if not checked, will make it difficult to implement reforms in Malaysia.

By Lim Sue Goan

Sin Chew Daily/ Asia News Network

Skepticism is one of the commonest human weaknesses, and this is especially so in an environment where mutual trust is severely lacking.

As a result, the public has a thousand and one views of the alliance against Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Citizens' Declaration.

The public are doubtful because many of the current problems of this country have had their beginnings during former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's time.

On what moral grounds could a person widely known to have bruised the country's judiciary in the past, amending the Federal Constitution to excessively empower the executive, to ever launch a civic consciousness campaign?

Many dissidents were detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) when Dr Mahathir was in power, including opposition leaders Lim Kit Siang and Lim Guan Eng, and many wonder why the senior Lim would ever support the former PM's cause today.

Mr Lim Kit Siang and Mr Ling Liong Sik used to be archrivals too, while Mr Anwar Ibrahim was stripped of his DPM post and subsequently thrown into the jail, also by Dr Mahathir.

Are all these people really willing to set aside their personal grudges for the sake of this country, or are they just a bunch of unprincipled opportunists?

Such skepticism is reasonable and has stemmed from the poor records of the politicians themselves.

That said, many have overlooked the fact that also signing the declaration are leaders from NGOs such as Bersih 2.0 and Hakam who while having their own political stands have had no direct political gains from the move.

These people love the country a lot more than our politicians.

There are many who have very little regard for the "Mahathir alliance", thinking that there are indeed some conflicts in this unlikely union, especially in view of the fact that Dr Mahathir is by no means a true reformer aspiring to mow down the Barisan Nasional but exploiting the opposition and NGOs just to advance his own motive of bringing down Mr Najib.

As a matter of fact, even if we have one million people signing the declaration, there is no way the lawmakers will cast a vote of no confidence against the PM, nor will the Umno Supreme Council act against its commander-in-chief.

The Umno leader is more concerned about losing the support of the grassroots.

Mr Najib has said Umno members have been disappointed by the move of Dr Mahathir et al because they can't accept any form of cooperation with Democratic Action Party (DAP) no matter how much they agree with Dr Mahathir's agenda.

The fact that a former PM in power for 22 years has worked with the opposition has sparked reflections among the Malays over something they have so far neglected: whether there should be a bottomline to their loyalty to the leader.

It is a matter of time the Umno disciplinary board and the Supreme Council would eventually axe Umno deputy president Muhyiddin Yassin and Dr Mahathir's son Mukhriz, killing their residual affinity to the party, pushing them towards the opposition, which is actually a good thing for Pakatan Harapan, as PKR and Amanah would gain from a divisive Umno with more members pulling out.

Sure enough there are people who are really concerned about the future of this country.

They echo the Pakatan rhetoric that they have not forgotten the past but are willing to set aside their grudges for the sake of this country.

Indeed the future is much more important than the past.

It is utterly unpragmatic to wrap ourselves within the cocoon of our past experiences.

We can only look to a brighter tomorrow if we strive to undo the mistakes of yesterday.

In short, the anti-Najib alliance has drawn significant controversies in the Malaysian society with the pro-Najib and anti-Najib camps launching fierce onslaughts against each other in the cyberspace, further broadening the rift in our society.

Umno is set to introduce more aggressive actions in a bid to firm up the grassroots but unfortunately, such confrontation has blurred the focus that the country indeed needs the much delayed reforms.

If the country were already on the right track, then we wouldn't have seen the emergence of such a political crisis, economic ills, worsening racial relations, rampant corruption, stagnant education and eroded national reputation, among a host of other problems.

We can no longer delay the reforms any longer.

The Citizens' Declaration stresses the point that all laws infringing on human rights must be abolished and the credibility of national institutions such as PDRM, MACC, Bank Negara and PAC must be restored.

While this is indeed very important, the problem lies with the ballooning executive power which if not checked, will further confine the space of freedom in future.

Only a country with a healthy political system will ever be elevated to the status of a civilised, developed country.

The question is: majority of Malaysians have lost their faith if we were to rely on this kind of politicians we have today.

To steer the country towards real reforms, we need to allow the civil society to take the lead in erecting a healthy political system.