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Political chess in Malaysia

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

JANUARY 18 ― Is the art of governance in Malaysia now a mere backdrop for political theatrics?

In the ever-evolving political landscape of Malaysia, where the only constant seems to be change, one can’t help but wonder: when did the noble pursuit of governance morph into a playground for political manoeuvring?

Gone are the days when a prime minister, elected and appointed as per the Federal Constitution, could rest easy in his position. Now, the term “overnight” takes on a literal meaning in Malaysian politics.

Remember February 24, 2020? The day Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s status as prime minister flickered on and off like a faulty light bulb ― a first in Malaysia’s 61-year history.

Amidst this politicking, the nation faces dire challenges that require urgent attention and a stable government. ― Picture by Firdaus Latif
Amidst this politicking, the nation faces dire challenges that require urgent attention and a stable government. ― Picture by Firdaus Latif

Amidst this politicking, the nation faces dire challenges that require urgent attention and a stable government. ― Picture by Firdaus Latif

In the shadows of this political drama, we witnessed the “Sheraton Move,” a strategic ballet danced by politicians more interested in personal gain than public good.

Fast forward to today, echoes of a new plot, the “Dubai Move,” resound within the halls of power. Is this just a counterplay to the unity government's alleged inducements to Opposition MPs?

The political irony here is as thick as it is disheartening. Instead of leading the nation, it seems our leaders are more preoccupied with a high-stakes game of musical chairs.

The introduction of the anti-hopping law, intended as a panacea for political instability, now appears to be a mere superficial remedy.

Its noble purpose is being twisted into a tool for political manoeuvring. Does the good of the party really equate to the good of the country?

Fourteen months into the unity government, and Malaysia is still embroiled in a quagmire of Statutory Declarations and the quest for the Yang di-Pertuan Agong's approval for a new government.

This political quagmire unnecessarily drags the royal institution into the political arena. While the Constitution gives the monarch the discretion to appoint a prime minister, his involvement should be constitutional, not political.

Amidst this politicking, the nation faces dire challenges that require urgent attention and a stable government. The escalating cost of living is putting immense pressure on the average Malaysian.

The healthcare system, once a point of national pride, is buckling under stress, needing urgent reform and investment. The housing crisis continues unabated, a stark reminder of the growing inequality in our society.

Equally pressing is the need to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and create high-quality job opportunities. Malaysia must position itself as an attractive destination for global businesses, fostering an ecosystem conducive to innovation and growth.

This is not just about economic prosperity; it's about retaining our talented workforce, preventing a brain drain that deprives our nation of its brightest minds.

In the global race for talent and innovation, Malaysia must not only compete but also set the stage for its people to thrive at home.

The relentless political tussling puts every national stride forward at risk, overshadowed by a lack of direction and foresight. The true path forward is not a dichotomy of “my way” or “your way,” but a collaborative “our way,” blending political pragmatism with ideological openness.

The current atmosphere of political hypochondria, marked by endless negativity and fear, hinders our progress to a future where prosperity is shared by all.

As our neighbours advance, we risk being left behind, clinging to outdated political power plays. To catch up and lead, Malaysia needs more than just political resolve; it requires a profound transformation in how politics is conducted.

It's about shifting from self-serving manoeuvres to a focus on national well-being, from political gamesmanship to philanthropic magnanimity.

So, we must ask: Can Malaysian politics rise above entrenched power struggles to address the pressing issues of our times ― the economic challenges, social inequalities, and the nurturing of our human capital?

Will our political landscape evolve to prioritise the nation's future over transient power gains? Or will we remain mired in a cycle of political one-upmanship, watching as our potential for greatness slips through our fingers?

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.