Ayn Rand, the American philosopher-novelist and a cult figure among the tech industry titans, was violently opposed to compromises. In her magnum opus Atlas Shrugged, she wrote, “There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil. In any compromise between food and poison, it is only death that can win. In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit.” In naming Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as the party’s prime ministerial candidate for the 14th General Election (GE14), Pakatan Harapan (PH) has chosen to make exactly the kind of toxic compromise Rand so bitterly abhorred. With this decision, PH has concluded the classic Faustian bargain by sacrificing principles of good governance, human rights and democracy on the altar of political expediency.
The world pays little attention to Malaysia. But on May 5, it should. That is the day that Malaysia’s 13 million voters, of whom 20% are casting ballots for the first time, will choose a new parliament and decide their nation’s future. Without question, these will be the most important elections in Malaysia’s history, as well as the closest and most hard-fought. For the first time, there is a strong and united opposition, and Malaysia’s voters have a genuine choice. Voter enthusiasm is high, and both government and especially opposition rallies are attracting people in the tens of thousands.
As every Malaysian would have known by now, the Prime Minister announced the dissolution of Parliament and hence paved the way for the nation’s thirteenth general elections. With that in mind, it is hoped that both the major political coalitions (Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat) as well as regional parties will engage their opponents in a constructive and meaningful manner, instead of the dirty tactics that we have seen — most especially during the Mahathir era.