Dr Mahathir Mohamad may have been accepted among Pakatan Harapan leaders, but his five eventful terms as prime minister has made him a divisive figure among opposition supporters who attended a forum on his role in Harapan.
Organised by Kelab Bangsar Utama, the forum titled “Mahathir: Agent of Change or Agent of Destruction?” last night pitted opposition figures and activists organised into two opposing camps.
The audience of more than 150 people also seemed to reflect that divide, with many vocally lambasting Mahathir’s role in Harapan while others seemed content to applaud the camp supporting Mahathir’s leadership role in the coalition.
Among the most vocal critics were Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) leader S Arutchelvam who specifically slammed the arguments from social activist Hishamuddin Rais, who was one of the speakers supporting Mahathir’s position in Harapan.
Hishamuddin said Mahathir was the only one among the opposition leaders now who had clout with powerhouses from the corporate world as well as with the royalty.
Arutchelvam mockingly said that he now knows the real reason Harapan accepted Mahathir into its coalition: to make phone calls to powerful people.
At the end of his tirade, about half of the crowd burst into applause, with several shouting, “Arul for prime minister”.
Arul is never going to be prime minister, for better or for worse. After many years his party has one seat, won under the banner of PKR.
But S Arutchelvam is very welcome to his purist views. He is the sort of person who might have remained a consciencious objector, refusing to take up arms against tyranny in the Second World War.
We understand the determination of those who are willing to always remain on the sidelines and tick off others for their imperfections – we need to be reminded always there are better and worse ways of doing things.
However, in times of clear and present danger, in the face of impending tyranny, such as Malaysia now encounters, the rest of the people have to make a decision and take a stand.
Arul will be in the opposition today and he will be in the opposition tomorrow – what is worrying Malaysians is who is in government today and whether he will still be in government tomorrow.
If people do nothing like Arul, unless it is done by his chosen book, Najib will remain that person.