The concept of a dignified retirement, dispensing the advice that only experience can deliver (as and when requested) appears to be an alien concept to the ex-UMNO warlords of Malaysia.
By present indicators they prefer to act like feudal kings, reigning till they drop, passing on the mantle to their male offspring and presumably looking towards full deification through their legacy of wealth. The consequences for the country have become appalling.
In the middle of a chaotic pandemic, which has ripped out of control amidst flagrant graft and rank bullying of the common people, the present leader is an advanced cancer patient who lacks the vim and vigour to do more than perform sparse appearances and chide the population for ‘making a drama out of nothing’.
Last time he inspected his kitchen it was full of food, he burbled yesterday. So people should stop hanging out white flags and start hanging out blue ones to applaud his party and his own fine record.
The man plainly intends to cling to office until his last gasp, given he worked so long and hard climbing the UMNO greasy poll to finally pull off his backdoor triumph. Even if he bankrupts the country dispensing bribes and lets off however many blatant political crooks it takes to keep their votes behind him. In the same spirit he has appointed a toady cabinet of complete goons.
It makes it hard for the nation to feel the normal sympathy for his personal plight, given scores are dying each day that passes.
Backing him up as his most vociferous supporter is a geriatric heart patient, who has also craved power for decades and likewise had to make do with snatching office through bartering and manoeuvring rather than electoral approval.
This survivor of numerous by-pass operations started out in PAS as a vehement opponent of UMNO but when he saw his chance (enticed by crooked Najib) he shot into a secret scheme to shore up his former enemy at GE14.
After Najib lost the election anyway he was happy to transfer allegiances to yet another ex-opponent, Bersatu, to get his hands on the keys to the safe at last. Anyone who protests such fiendish politicking is roundly accused by him of politicking.
Over in Sarawak another semi-senile old boy still rules the roost as Governor and has in just the past week re-asserted his family’s control over the state’s largest conglomerate (‘privatised’ from state assets) by abandoning all pretence of corporate integrity and stock market rules, sacking half the board and management and re-asserting his two sons back in charge. The state bleeds daily as it has done for four decades under his rapacious management.
Champing at all their heels of course is the former twice PM, who lost power last time round when he thought he could do without party political support altogether and run the country by himself with an unelected cabinet entirely of his choosing.
This 96 year old is still making the same proposal with a different twist, explaining that the concept of the office of PM was fine for when he was just 93 but now bores him (after over 20 years he has so been there, done that).
He merely wants to be placed in charge of a ‘National Recovery Council’ that has full, autonomous control of the economy, the management of the pandemic and education too (a pet interest he should stick to). The PM (whoever that may be) can go round shaking hands, so the proposal goes, but is not to interfere with the ‘independent work’ of his NRC!
Tut tut. Alternative self-promoters for the leadership position, also given credence over the past few days, include a mere 90 year old who has floated into every political crisis over the past half century to offer his superior services but has always been rejected. Maybe his moment has at last arrived?
Keeping up the female side, Malaysia’s ‘Iron Lady’ has also tossed her unelected toupee in the ring, although if the truth be told at 78 the iron has gone a little rusty also.
There is one fellow, however, that all these battling old warhorses can unite in agreeing must be denied governance at all costs. Namely, that cheeky young upstart whose coalition won the last election. This 73 year old whipper-snapper, a former finance minister, plainly has none of the experience and gravitas needed to run the country in a crisis (or any other time).
The proof is in the pudding. They have kept him out so far.
The swelling numbers backing the reform parties led by this ingenu are plainly a danger to the status quo for a start. And the status quo has done Malaysia’s political and economic warlords and all their hangers on, kids and cronies very nicely for the past few decades (and protected them from the consequences of their own crimes) and this is what any decent parent wants to pass on intact to their pleading offspring.
There is a deep, dark fear amongst the passing generation that the PKRs, Amanahs and DAPs of this world will seek to halt the gravy train. They made a good stab at it in 2018, thankfully kept in check by the wise interventions of PM7 and his likewise geriatric advisor, the former finance minister cum multi-billionaire, Daim Zainuddin.
There is an even greater fear that miscreants from their ageing ranks might end up finally not just charged, but genuinely fined or sent to jail. As everybody in Malaysia knows the only politicians who deserve jail are those who threaten the status quo and to upset the gravy train – like that young challenger himself who has already done ten years or so.
So, in terms of future planning, who do the mad old men of Malaysia have in mind for future leadership? Well, their sons, in-laws and cousins naturally. Lining up we have Hisamuddin, Mukriz, Khairy all battling with each other like some medieval tournament stalked by thuggish mercenaries such as Azmin Ali, waiting to find their moment.
By the way, resolving a pandemic in the modern era requires a rather different set of skills and priorities. Fresh intellect, energy and a public service spirit would all come handy – over to the Agong under the present circumstances to try to make the right choice.