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Melaka Polls: If you want to win, you must show solidarity with your leader

7 Nov 2021

The best thing that has happened to us since Sheraton Move is the state election in Melaka. Some jokers tried to go to court to stop it, others questioned why the Governor decided to call for the dissolution of the State Assembly. Quite a sizeable group plays the high moral ground by bashing the group of four for bringing the state government down.

Incredulous still is the persistent attacks on Anwar Ibrahim by his friends in PH for welcoming the gang of four led by Idris Haroun, the former Chief Minister. Idris was with me in Parliament many years ago, and he frequently questioned (in a nice way) my so-called liberal views, telling his audience that Zaid was a different kind of Malay (whatever he meant). But I see him as a serious politician who can move things, someone; not to be dismissed summarily.

I am bewildered by the issues raised by the critics. The last proclamation of Emergency should send a chill down your spine – that we will never again have an election. Many were worried that we would see the end of democracy, like in Myanmar. Thank goodness we have politicians like Idris, who engineered the government's fall in Melaka, which necessitated an election where we can restore the people's mandate. Thank you to the Governor for doing the right thing, by allowing the people to choose; instead of him choosing the new government.

To those from PKR and DAP who vehemently criticised Anwar for welcoming the gang of four as friends or partners of PH, I urge them to stay calm. In preparing for battle, the leader alone must make some key decisions, and their trust in their leader will resonate with the voters. Likewise, the more they question their leader's judgement, the voters’ perception of Anwar would be less favourable. If you want to win, you must show solidarity with your leader. Debates and political philosophy can wait.

Whether they contest the election or not, the other political parties will naturally take a swipe at Anwar for seemingly accepting “frogs” into the fold of PH. They conveniently ignored that in 2018, Warisan accepted ADUNS from UMNO, and later on, Bersatu under Tun Mahathir accepted 13 UMNO MPs. They did all that to bolster their strength. That's the reality in this “less than perfect” politics in our country. We do not have to follow every action taken by other parties, but we also have to win an election, if serving the people is the ultimate aim.

In Melaka, the Assembly has been dissolved, and hence, PH is entitled to seek a new mandate from the voters. If it requires them to work with Idris Haroun to secure victory, I think that's the practical and necessary thing to do. Is the conduct of the gang of four in bringing down the former government down despicable? It depends on the situation. Not all defections are bad.

The 2020 Bersatu/UMNO/PAS and PKR frogs had no proper justification, to topple Tun Mahathir’s government a la Sheraton move, other than regaining power without going through an election. Melaka is different. Should the state government in Melaka, be “protected” and not overturned under any circumstances? If that is a political high principle cast in stone then one can never justify a vote of no confidence against any government, no matter how corrupt or useless that government might be. Is that what we want?

DAP leaders have a strong sense of idealism; but they too would apply them selectively. This is laudable like all ideals, we need to temper the application with common sense. Even Napoleon, who famously said: "nothing is impossible” would whisper to his generals that in seeking the impossible, to also never lose sight of what is possible. DAP was cosy with Dr Mahathir on many issues; and PKR did not criticise them openly. The current attacks launched against Anwar is not warranted when polling is just two weeks away.

The Melaka election is significant and important in other ways. UMNO’s attempt to go on its own, and not working together with Bersatu and PAS is to be appreciated. UMNO may enrich their leaders from time to time; but the party does not deliberately makes the Malays stupid. Not working with PAS is the best thing UMNO has done lately. The inclusion of many young candidates augurs well for UMNO. The election is also an acid test for the Najib-Zahid team; to try and win an election on UMNO ticket, and not working with a mixed up group of PAS Bersatu

As for Anwar, it is another hill to climb, especially when the government does not allow for campaigning. Free gifts, including cash, will be permitted if they are from the government’s party – it may not be construed as an election offence – but PH will have to be careful in doing the same thing. Anwar has to win to show that PH has the strength to take on BN and others in GE15.

Melaka is a scintillating prospect for many young aspirants who have decided to go into politics; and it will be interesting to see how well they perform. PH too will have a mix of young and experienced leaders who can take over the reign of government if given the opportunity to do so by the voters. The outcome of the election will also open up possibilities of new alliances for the bigger battles ahead.

Datuk Zaid Ibrahim

Former Federal Minister


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