Sunday, March 07, 2010

Pakatan holds together on 2nd anniversary

The tensile strength of the Pakatan Rakyat coalition in the face of relentless attacks by the Umno-led Barisan Nasional to break it up makes the second anniversary of the political tsunami that hit Malaysia two years ago an occasion of momentous importance. Nobody who has watched the steady deterioration of the BN over the last 12 years, at least, can have any doubt that one of the finer truisms of governance in the last century and a half of the history of the nation-state belonged to Lord Acton, to wit, “Power tends to corrupt; absolutely power corrupts absolutely.” najib pc in parliamnet on altantuya murder case allegations  030708The Umno-dominated BN, corrupted by too long an incumbency, is in irreversible decline; their decision to supplant the ineffectual Abdullah Ahmad Badawi with the more capable but highly-tainted Najib Razak 13 months after their electoral buffeting, a confirmation that their corrupt state had descended to decadence. Only a party in a state of advanced torpor from too-long an incumbency could have unanimously convinced itself that the imperative of self- and government-reform could be initiated by someone who would have to be dislodged if that exercise were carried to its logical culmination. You know its improbability when you pause to consider who Najib's replacement would necessarily be should that reform exercise, by some quirk, issue in a dislodging of the initiator. Umno's decadence has had no more self-evident confirmation. Hence the failure of its attacks on the cohesion of the state government of Pakatan-held Selangor and to buffet that of Penang, a year after having, thanks to a servile judiciary, succeeded in upending Pakatan-held Perak, is grand dollops of icing on the cake of the reform movement triggered by the travails of Anwar Ibrahim in 1998 and brought, mainly by him, to the threshold of an opportunity for its fulfillment by the results of the March 2008 tsunami.

Myth of BN invincibility destroyed

This second anniversary, with Pakatan still firmly in command of four of five states it captured two years ago, is more liberating of the Malaysian body politic than the initial denial of BN's two-thirds parliamentary majority 24 months ago. This is because when myths – such as that of BN invincibility – are destroyed, one must pause to consider what may fill the void. NONEWhat has filled it is increasing evidence that despite intramural feuding and tensions, the Pakatan coalition is holding up and gives every sign of being durable over the long term. Huge credit for being prescient about BN's deterioration beyond redemption and doing something about galvanising action to replace it belongs to Anwar. But there clings to him, like moth to flame, the penumbra of doubt about his ability to display the substance of leadership as distinct from impressive fluency with the rhetorical devices that help gain it. Anwar has to show leadership that is less dependent on the rhetorical and more refulgent of the substantive. That means telling friends who have stayed loyal to him that they don't have what it takes to lead if indeed they don't have it in them. Having intuitively known the truth of Lord Action's aphroism about the corruptive effects of power, he ought to know something of the harshness of an Arabic saying that “your enemies tell you what you want to hear; your friends tell you the truth.” The success of his leadership, indeed its very credibility, hinges on his grasp of the nuanced wisdom of such sayings.

courtesy of Malaysiakini

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