Kerk Chee Yee
Politics - the art of the possible
Many have come quick in voicing displeasure on the Citizens’ Declaration where we witnessed the unprecedented political re-alignment between various political figures from different background, notably the seemingly “impossible” combination of Mr Lim Kit Siang and Tun Dr. Mahathir. Unease stems mainly from the so called “compromise of principle” as claimed. It’s not hard for one to understand the sentiment even if he has the slightest knowledge on Malaysian politics. Some view the movement as an unwelcomed and baffling one due to, in their opinion, the root cause of what the Declaration is trying to fight is the past deeds of Tun Dr. Mahathir himself. Regardless of the truthfulness of the argument, is the Declaration actually necessary and logical or as what they claimed a “compromise of principle”?
Before I get into that, let us all acknowledge the truth that mankind are guided by their own ideology, and that’s how political parties are formed. Even those who would very much love to stay on the neutral side will eventually have to take a stand at times of crisis. Politicians happen to be the ones who turn ideologies into work ethics and core purposes. In fact, being in the field of politics, I believe, is much more complicated and definitely takes more than just an inspiring ideology. Strategy, vision, personality, principle, compromises etc are all essential attributes of any political party or leader.
So did the Citizens’ Declaration involve “compromise of principle”? This is a tricky one to think about. We condemn compromise of principle when one goes against his fundamental beliefs or virtues. To fit into this context, in the field of politics, we sometimes observe strategic collaboration to achieve specific goals and purposes. The fundamental principle must be upheld no matter how much disbenefit or how tough the circumstances may be. The disintegration of Pakatan Rakyat, for instance, is a result of uncompromising principle. It is in fact more dangerous to become the kind of political parties that remain silent or even give up their own principles in exchange for power and positions.
The signatories to the Declaration would have expected the bullets and yet they decided to stay on the boat. Many of the signatories were once the fiercest attackers of one another. Some had even once lost freedom in pursuit of an ideal Malaysia. So there must be a very strong reason or factor that they have all decided to come together.
Reading from the various comments, it is clear that the coming together is born because these leaders felt this is one way, perhaps the only way left, that they have to do or can do in order to achieve their objectives.
Some people have said the leaders have sold out their principles, some say that there is no doubt whatsoever that the attempt to oust Najib will fail, some have also said that the teaming up is born out of desperation, the list can go on.
But politics is the art of the possible, The political landscape has changed since the last few years and political challenges can no longer be dealt with by old methods. Malaysia is now in uncharted waters and political leaders will have to move into uncharted waters.