Politics is about destroying your enemy

I mean, look at how the non-Malays scream at what Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak is doing to those enemies of his who are trying to destroy him. But that is precisely what Najib should be doing — destroy those who are trying to destroy him. And if you do not want to be destroyed then don’t try to destroy others because you will receive back what you dish out.

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Most Malaysians are very naïve to the point of stupidity and I find that the non-Malays are even more so compared to the Malays. At least Malays seem to know one very important doctrine of politics, which is hari ini kawan, esok lawan, lusa kawan semula.

Loosely translated this would mean friends today, enemies tomorrow, and friends again the next day. In short, there are no permanent friends and no permanent enemies in politics. Friends can transform into enemies, and vice versa, as interests align and as interests drift apart.

I find that the non-Malays are too quick in labelling someone a traitor when they no longer share the same political alignment. Turncoat and traitor have nothing to do with it when it comes to politics. If not then one of the greatest British Prime Ministers would not be regarded as the greatest British Prime Minister but the most treacherous British Prime Minister.

Why did Anwar Ibrahim form Parti Keadilan Nasional (PKN) when he was sacked from Umno and eventually ended up in jail? Why not just get all his supporters to join DAP, PAS, PSM, PRM, or any of the existing non-Barisan Nasional political parties? That was what Mustafa Ali asked me when I met him in his house in Kuala Terengganu in late 1998 when it was rumoured that a new party of ‘disgruntled Umno members’ was about to be launched.

In fact, around that same time I wrote an article in the PAS party newspaper, Harakah, and I said in that article that Malaysia does not need another (new) political party. What Malaysia needs is a strong opposition coalition to take on the ruling coalition, Barisan Nasional.

The reason why Anwar and his supporters did not want to join any of the existing non-Barisan Nasional political parties was so that if he formed his own party then he could later wind it up and everyone can rejoin Umno exactly like what Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah did with his Semangat 46.

In short, the new party was only a temporary arrangement and his long-term plan was to rejoin Umno. And then he took Umno to court to sue Umno and to try to get the court to rule that his sacking was unconstitutional and that he was legally still an Umno member.

But Anwar eventually lost that court case so he had no choice but to remain in the opposition and try to become the Prime Minister through the opposition and no longer through Umno. The objective still remains, though, to become the Prime Minister, but the route to Putrajaya needs to change because Umno would not have him back.

In November 1999, PKN, PAS, DAP and PRM sat down to try to form an opposition coalition. Dr Chandra Muzaffar, PKN’s deputy president, represented his party but the talks broke down. They could not agree on how many seats each party would get and where those seats were going to be.

The problem is PAS did not trust PKN, a party they regarded as an Umno splinter party and a party of gulungan kecewa (frustrated group). So PAS did not want to give them the lion’s share of the seats.

PKN then prepared itself for three- or four-corner fights against Barisan Nasional, DAP and PAS. Our feeling at that time was PKN might as well not bother to contest the general election at the end of that month since clearly the party was going to get wiped out. My response was, “It is better we all just go home and forget about the elections.”

At the eleventh hour, Anwar asked Jomo Kwame Sundaram to take over the negotiations and finally an agreement was reached and Barisan Alternatif came into being.

We cannot deny that the only saving grace was the fact that Ustaz Fadzil Muhammad Noor was the president of PAS and he had a sort of soft spot for Anwar. If it had been anyone else then Barisan Alternatif would never have happened because Abdul Hadi Awang and Anwar hated each other since the days when Anwar was still in Umno.

When Ustaz Fadzil died in July 2002, the first thing we thought was that this is the end of Barisan Alternatif. PAS and PKN could never work together any longer. More so DAP who could never accept ‘hardliner’ Hadi (Ustaz Fadzil was considered a ‘moderate’).

Then a meeting was arranged between PKN’s new deputy president, Abdul Rahman Othman (ARO), and the new PAS acting president, Hadi Awang. They immediately became ‘good friends’ to the extent that Hadi gave ARO the PAS seat of Putrajaya to contest in the 2004 general election. Hadi even made time in his busy schedule to help ARO campaign during the election. (Incidentally, ARO has since left PKR and is now in PAS).

So the PAS, PKR and DAP marriage was never a marriage of love. It was a marriage of convenience with all the partners in that marriage never really trusting one another and merely using one another to further their own party interests. It was never about Barisan Alternatif or Pakatan Rakyat.

I had been a PAS supporter since around 1977-1978. But it was not until 20 years later in 1998 that I submitted my membership application form. My proposer and seconder were Mustafa Ali and Hadi Awang.

In April 1999, PKN asked me to join their staff as the media coordinator. I was asked whether I was a PKN member and I replied no, I was a PAS member. I was told it would be difficult for PKN to put me in charge of the media unit if I was a PAS member and not a PKN member.

So I became a PKN member not because I supported the party but because that was my terms of service. Anyway, being in the PKN corridors of power allowed me to watch the party and make sure that they did not plan anything to hurt PAS. But my service in PKN helped prove that the party never trusted PAS and wanted to only use PAS to win votes because PAS had the Malay ground support while PKN did not.

In short, PKN needed the votes from the PAS supporters. If not PKN would never be able to win any seats. So PKN was basically using PAS and, of course, PAS knew this. But it worked both ways. PAS could also use PKN to get the votes of the non-Muslims. It was like a prostitute and a client situation. One gets to enjoy sex and the other gets to enjoy the money. It is a win-win arrangement.

My loyalty, undoubtedly, was with PAS. And as long as PAS belongs to a coalition together with PKN and DAP then we will also support PKN and DAP. But now that PAS has been sacked from the coalition then our loyalty is no longer with the coalition. So PKR and DAP are now the enemy, no two ways about it.

PAS has to do whatever it takes to get ahead. If it can no longer get ahead in a coalition with Pakatan Rakyat (which no longer exists), then it has to explore other avenues and possibilities, even if it has to have an electoral pact with Umno or Barisan Nasional.

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