Winter has come but spring isn’t too far

Like many of you, I hope to defeat the UMNO-PAS-dominated Muhyiddin-Azmin Ali coup alliance in the upcoming Parliament sitting and to reverse the current situation.

It can be done. Cracks are already showing in their coalition which was hastily put together with the single objective of stealing the government from those who had won the people’s mandate in May 2018.

For instance, factional interests between Hishammuddin Hussein and Zahid Hamidi separate them. Also, the public pressure from the voters in Sarawak may cause the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) to think twice about the current arrangement.

But, in the meantime, I know that it is also possible for the Muhyiddin Yassin coalition to buy, entice or threaten Pakatan Harapan and Warisan MPs to switch sides.

Hence, I hope the spirit of struggle among Pakatan and Warisan MPs, as well as public disapproval of the coup, would help maintain the current strength. If we can hold on to our strength for as long as it can be, the coup coalition would find it hard to govern and will crack sooner than later.

The Muhyiddin Government may not want to call Parliament as each bill it presents would be a battle for the numbers. Every day the parliament sits, the unelected government would live in fear.

So we hope for the best.

But we must also be prepared for the long haul.

First, much as we are angry at the power grab, we must not allow anger to result in the other side using it as an excuse to stop Parliament, and God forbid, to abolish elections. The coup coalition can’t win in elections. We must not allow them any reason to ban elections.

Second, our anger shouldn’t end at our keyboard. We need more Malaysians, regardless of race and religion, to come forward to participate in public affairs and in politics.

The progressive parties need more people to devote themselves to the cause of reform so that when we next return to government, we will have a generation of leaders ready to govern.

I joined the DAP in 1999 when Lim Kit Siang and Karpal Singh lost their seats. It was DAP’s lowest ebb. We joined because we didn’t want DAP to go down without a fight.

Third, Malaysians need stronger media literacy. The Malaysian public needs to have greater awareness and knowledge in identifying fake news, while not being affected by the agenda behind it. Efforts can be made to promote media literacy as part of civic and community education.

I warned the public many times in 2019 that Muafakat Nasional of PAS and UMNO on the one hand, and MCA/MIC on the other hand, via mainstream media and social media, are engaging in a scorched earth strategy – to burn the house down so that they can take over.

I wrote in October 2019 that:

“The PAS-UMNO race-based alliance, also backed by MCA and MIC, is using race and religion as political weapons against the government.

“Among the Malays, the PAS-UMNO alliance perpetuates the myth that the DAP, especially Lim Guan Eng and Lim Kit Siang, controls and subjugates the government. For the non-Malays, MCA and MIC propagate that DAP is controlled by Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad who puts the interests of the Malays above everyone else’s.

“Let me set the record straight. Those are lies. How can they be true when the lies contradict each other. It’s illogical.

“If Malaysians swallow those lies, be prepared to see the return of Najib Razak’s rule by mid-term. Pakatan Harapan can either be a half-term government, or at least govern for two terms if it survives the attempt to split the coalition from the middle through racial mobilisation.

Unfortunately, Pakatan has now become a half-term government. But when we return to power, we will need a very strong mandate so that a progressive government would not fall again.

To do that, we will need to caution everyone not to fall into racial framing and to unite all Malaysians to defeat racial mobilisation and the coup in its name.

Those who live in four season countries know that when winter comes, spring is not far away. We need more Malaysians to rise to the occasion, to be counted and to rebuild the country together.

Article by Liew Chin Tong, DAP National Political Education Director on 3 March 2020.

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