By Fathol Zaman Bukhari
Sunday, February 23, will remain etched in living memory as the day sane Malaysians, the country over, were taken on a roller-coaster ride by a handful of miscreant Pakatan Harapan politicians. These high-rollers have no qualms of selling the country for the right price. All that matters to them is the lust for power, influence and money.
One cardinal sin they had committed, at the behest of the rakyat, was to collude or for a better term, align themselves with their nemesis for the expressed purpose of wresting control of the government by any crooked means possible.
And to add to the mayhem was PM-in-waiting Anwar Ibrahim’s insistence that a date be fixed for him to take over the coveted post from Mahathir. He felt that being the anointed successor he has every right to make his demand known.
However, there are people within his party who wished he did not. For one reason or the other Anwar is not liked by many on both sides of the political divide. And the feeling is shared by many Malaysians.
Being pushed to a corner, Mahathir, ever the cunning old fox he is, made his move. He tendered his resignation as Prime Minister on Monday, February 24. An official letter to that effect was submitted to the palace, as is required of protocol. The Agong (King) accepted but appointed him as the interim prime minister while a new candidate is being picked.
To add spice to the political drama, Mahathir as president of Bersatu, a component party of Pakatan Harapan, pulled out from the shaky coalition. That signalled the end of the Mahathir administration. In the course of one day, he went from being prime minister to ex-prime minister and then the interim prime minister. Who could beat that?
The grand old man, the master strategist, has check-mated all attempts at removing him from his lofty perch. And he did it with much finesse and without fanfare. Anwar, Azmin, Muhyiddin and the legion of PM-wannabes are left to lick their wounds.
But what has come of the rakyat? I feel the biggest losers are ordinary Malaysians like you and me who want nothing but an administration that cares for our welfare and well-being. We care less for political ideologies and mumbo jumbo that mean little to us. What matters most is to earn enough to put food on the table. We do not wish to be encumbered by political intrigues and scandals, favourite pursuits of the privileged few.
The Agong has the final say in endorsing a government that meets the needs of the rakyat. He had decreed that all 222 parliamentarians see him personally and help him pick a likely candidate as prime minister. Alternatively, he could, upon advice, dissolve parliament and seek a fresh mandate from the rakyat via a snap election.
Hopefully, by print time on Sunday, March 1, things would have changed for the better and not for the worse.
My fervent hope is, the country does not descend into chaos when the wrong guy from the wrong party is being picked to lead. God forbid.
The Passing of a Friend
I received rather depressing news last week from my brother in Parit Buntar. He told me of a certain Ali Hassan Hamid, an old friend of mine who had just passed away. I could not figure out who this guy was in spite of him giving some leads like him having a younger brother by the name of Yakob who was in the army. His father was a textile merchant in Parit Buntar and owned a shop along Toh Peh Kong Street, a once busy thoroughfare in the town.
Ali Hassan was a seasoned football player and had represented Kerian District and our school during his heydays. It took awhile for me to recall my formative years in Parit Buntar as, like most youths of the 1960s, I left Parit Buntar in 1968 upon joining the Royal Military College in Sungai Besi. That was a good 52 years since I left the town. My mind was a little rusty but in its deep recesses, I could recall a comely guy who was always playful with some practical jokes up his sleeves.
It then dawned on me that he was one of many kids whom I had befriended while in primary school during pre-independence days growing up in a sleepy hollow known as Parit Buntar. We were in our element, a bunch of rowdies, who had no qualms of raiding an old pak cik’s orchard on a strip of land on the borders separating Province Wellesley and Perak. Mangoes, mangosteens and buah terap (related to breadfruits) were fair game. We would sneak into the orchard and climb one of the fruit trees and helped ourselves to the juiciest fruits available.
Hassan would either do the climbing or be the lookout. When the owner appeared with a parang (machete) in his hand we would scatter in all directions leaving the fuming pak cik to count his losses. Kids nowadays do not enjoy such excitements as we did. It was all part of growing up.
I could only cherish the good times spent in a rustic environment free from the spoils of modernity. Foremost, we did not have gadgets like computers and smartphones to keep us occupied. Life was so simple yet exciting those hazy days. Today, it is something else. Ask your kids.