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Covid will make or break one of the two political tribes

“By advising the King to proclaim emergency but not obtaining it, what’s left of Muhyiddin’s democratic credentials has taken a big hit and his opponents would certainly take advantage of the popular discontent to try to push him over the edge,” Oh Ei Sun told Malay Mail in its top story this morning.

Mr Oh, who was two years (June 2009-July 2011) a political secretary to then prime minister Najib Razak, says a lot in his gem-packed sentence but nonetheless he speaks like a polished diplomat. 

Allow me to unpack his informed political views in plainer layman’s terms.

Agong rejected PM’s advice

The more polite NST headlined its report today ‘King’s decision on state of emergency set a precedent’. Or to put it another way, it is unprecedented for a Tuanku DYMM Seri Paduka Baginda YDP Agong to decline to act on his perdana menteri’s ‘advice’ in calling for Darurat.

The much ruder Malaysiakini amplified its Dapster vox populi under the imperative headline ‘A slap in the face for Muhyiddin, but will he step down?’ Their spin couldn’t have been more pointed — Harapan supporters expect nothing short of the PM using the door marked Exit.

Muhyiddin’s gambit has undeniably weakened the ruling party. 

BELOW: Kit Siang can’t stop calling Najib a literal thief; now he’s calling Muhyiddin a metaphorical thief

Muhyiddin took a big hit yesterday

We’re now in the last quarter of 2020 and this month, the gloves came off after Sabah’s coronavirus spike.

In the first quarter of the year when Muhyiddin came to power, he enjoyed a buffer period due to the public health emergency. Covid surfacing around the time of the Sheraton Move gave Muhyiddin a breather albeit never a true honeymoon since his opponents are most adamant that his administration is a “backdoor government”.  

It was barely three weeks ago that I blogged ‘Politics of hate launched against PM by opposition’. I’d noticed that the vitriol against Muhyiddin is beginning to reach 2014-18 anti-Najib levels. You can see for yourself right this very minute. 

Recall the relentless attacks against Najib led by the Great White Shark (that would be Mahathir). History is repeating itself. 

Oh Ei Sun – quoted in my intro – assesses that “Muhyiddin’s democratic credentials has taken a big hit”. Mr Oh’s vocabulary is the quintessential politesse. We bloggers would just say the PM’s opponents smell blood. 

BELOW: Pregnant zebra being eaten alive by hyenas (DAP)

Sharks are circling, hyenas pacing 

In his appraisal of the PM’s current fortunes, Oh believes that “opponents would certainly take advantage of the popular discontent”.

Because Malaysians were scared out of their wits by the ‘new’ (novel) virus from Wuhan, they willingly crept into the alphabet-soup cordon sanitaire that was the MCO in English, PKP in Bahasa.

Back in March, the entire citizenry had willingly submitted to the government lockdown order that controlled not only their travel movements but what they could and could not do, where they could and could not eat. Today there are stirrings of ‘discontent’ that was missing during MCO 1.0. 

The anti-Emergency logic is simple. Malaysians had obeyed the control orders to the tee. If we are already so docile, what need is there for a national security council strong arming us into further submission so as to re-flatten the Covid curve? 

Reject those glass-half-empty politicians 

Coming to the last bit of Mr Oh’s insight today on Muhyiddin, i.e. opponents riding “popular discontent to try to push him over the edge”. 

In the first half of the year, Covid was political capital for Muhyiddin and he even received praise for keeping the infection contained. Going into 2021, Covid is the not-so-secret weapon to be used against Muhyiddin. Dirty politics, after all, is par for the course whereas Covid is the X-factor. 

Observe what is happening around the world. Leaders have a choice of looking at the pandemic either as the glass half full or half empty.  

Trump, Biden are polar opposites on Covid

Donald Trump rightly opposes perpetual lockdown (see above). He knows that any proposed cure should not be worse than the original problem.

In the American presidential debate on Oct 22, Donald Trump assured his countrymen “we’re rounding the corner” on the pandemic and that soon, the coronavirus “will go away”. His challenger Joe Biden, on the other hand, warned the USA of a “dark winter” ahead.

On the day of the debate itself, the United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approved remdesivir as the drug for Covid treatment. Trump too was given remdesivir during his recent bout with the virus. 

Republicans are hopeful a vaccine could be ready by this December. To deny the president his trump card, ‘Democrats have become the party of anti-vaxxers’ (see article tweeted above), sowing unfounded skepticism about the efficacy of the many experimental drugs. 

Trump is optimistic people were “learning to live” with the virus. Biden retorted: “He says . . . we’re learning to live with it. People are learning to die with it”. All the Democratic Party offers American voters is dire pessimism. 

If Trump is reelected, he will reopen his country. If Biden is elected, he will put America under immediate lockdown with no end in sight. 

BELOW: Latest! In China, Covid cases are not showing any symptoms … This is good?

Learn a lesson from the world

This week alone, there have been protests in London, Melbourne, Warsaw, Naples and Tel Aviv (UPDATE: + Madrid + Barcelona) against draconian government measures to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. Protests have also erupted in several African cities for a mix of reasons. 

The American presidential election will take place in just a little more than a week. If voters pick Trump, then we know that Americans endorse his can-do vision of the future and want to put the pandemic behind them. If voters pick Biden, then we know that Americans endorse the Democrats’ tight embrace of mask-wearing and staying safely shut in the basement. 

Let’s wait for Nov 3 and see how 150 million voters cast their ballot in the Covid referendum. I’m betting that ordinary Americans are tired of being held hostage by the hysteria. I could be wrong.

But doubtless, Covid is being politicized by politicians everywhere. Used wrongly, it will become senjata makan tuan.

Whoever – whether Trump or Biden – wins over the silent majority, at least Malaysian politicians here can sniff which way the wind blows with regard to Covid sentiments. 


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One thought on “Covid will make or break one of the two political tribes

  1. by looking at new zealand n south korea, its pretty fair approval n accusations, my view is trump n backdoor pm did very badly, but at least trump can give some excuse like economy n job, backdoor pm hv zero idea what to do next, pls pack n leave la.

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