Politics and Policy: Stop the tiresome politicking

This article first appeared in The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on October 28, 2019 - November 03, 2019.

Azmin had in the past said leaders should focus on running the country

Photo by Mohd Izwan Mohd Nazam/The Edge

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THERE was a report a week or so ago on the findings of a survey by CEOWORLD magazine, which said Singapore is ranked No 1 for street food this year. Kuala Lumpur and even our pride as far as makan is concerned — Penang — did not make the top 50 list.

As proud Malaysians, we can argue about the survey till the cows come home. But let’s not. And I, for one, am not about to clamour for a national protest except to say there is work to be done to rectify the notion that our food is not good enough to be among the best. We need to work on our marketing and branding strategies. “We” meaning the people entrusted to promote the nation.

Then, there is the Belt and Road Initiative comic raising many an eyebrow as to how it ended up at where it is now and how it was supposedly endorsed by the authorities when they did not or should not.

Perhaps all that is the result of the powers that be (and together with us) not focusing on the right things — maybe preferring other matters instead like politicking and manoeuvring even when the general election has ended 17 months ago.

We have been hearing a lot of political intrigues since Pakatan Harapan (PH) won last year’s general election. And this has not eased off. In fact, we are seeing an increase in the flow of political “stories”, especially of late — with their twists and turns, conspiracies, cloak-and-dagger plots — including those promoted by the Umno-Pas-led opposition.

Now we have PKR deputy president Datuk Seri Azmin Ali giving his definition of a “back-door government”. His detractors naturally beg to differ, having their own interpretations of what constitutes such a government.

I shall bring in Setiawangsa member of parliament Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad into this, but will not repeat what he tweeted in its entirety. Suffice to say, his bottom line is, “Please focus on the economy or work matters”. This is in reference to Azmin’s portfolio as minister of economic affairs naturally.

Granted, Nik Nazmi, who is also from PKR, and Azmin are not the best of pals. But, here’s the thing. Many people agree with him as far as the need to focus on the economy goes — it is not anything else.

Come to think of it, Azmin himself had in the past said leaders should focus on running the country. Hence, a media practitioner is somewhat baffled, saying, “I cannot understand why they behave like the opposition when they are already the government”.

A political observer concurs, saying the opposition’s job is to destabilise the ruling coalition and “Azmin should not sing the opposition’s tune or appear to be doing that”.

The observer adds that there is much to be done for the economy as stormy winds are expected to continue due to the US-China trade tensions, sluggish eurozone economy, instability in the Middle East and uncertainty in the oil market.

Ruling politicians and Cabinet ministers should not worry about Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as they have showed Malaysians that they do get along and do not need any outside help to ensure a smooth transition.

But, to be fair, it is not only Azmin who has to focus on work. The entire Cabinet and the deputy ministers should make it a priority for them to serve the rakyat and the voters who put them in the seats of power. Working hard and less politicking is a must.

Media adviser to the prime minister Datuk A Kadir Jasin wrote in his blog recently, highlighting one of the problems, with a plea from a big oil palm planter from Sarawak.

The planter is very worried about the uncertainty with regard to palm oil exports to India, which he said if not addressed fast, will “affect all of us and losses are going to be big”.

Kadir rightly puts it like this: “If it’s bad for big growers, it couldn’t be good for FELDA settlers and smallholders. I don’t want to say more. The government should know better.”

Indeed, the government should know better in dealing with not only the palm oil problem but also other matters of immediate concern.

A veteran journalist friend of mine has this to say to PH ministers, deputy ministers, parliamentarians and state assemblymen: “Why worry about political plots of the opposition or get involved in them. There are a lot of things that need to be done and problems resolved. Just govern and not be distracted. PKR, DAP, Bersatu and Amanah should take the cue from Warisan. It seems to be managing Sabah rather well, little politicking and busy working.”

As for the opposition — which now knows why it lost after ruling for 61 years — try to learn to be a good opposition, at least until the next general election.


Mohsin Abdullah is contributing editor at The Edge. He has covered politics for more than four decades.


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