Politics

Pakatan’s regression to Mahathirism

Pakatan’s regression to Mahathirism

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.

Monarchy at our nation's foundations

Monarchy at our nation’s foundations

The title of this session — monarchy as the nation’s pasak (a word that literally means “peg” or in architecture “fastener”, but more broadly connotes “foundations”) — reminds me of Istana Lama Seri Menanti, a palace famously constructed without nails. Physics tells us that without them, buildings would collapse. But unlike nails, pegs are made from the same material as the structure, recalling the saying “raja dan rakyat berpisah tiada” (inseparable are the ruler and people). In the past, Rajas reigned and ruled; their executive decisions affected the lives of their rakyat. But the allegedly absolutist nature of this rule is often exaggerated (and it certainly wasn’t “feudal” in the medieval European sense as so many lazily label).