Politics can be a very dirty affair and my four decades slugging it out for newspapers, portals and the BBC Network Africa has taught me one thing: There are no boundaries in mudslinging and betrayal in politics.
Anwar Ibrahim, the prime-minister-to-be in Malaysia may have a better idea of the amount of betrayal one can expect in the political arena.
But I believe this turns you into the political animal feared, loved or loathed by many.
Yet, what is impossible to fathom is the degree of hatred the political class seem to have for one another. In Islam, there is a saying: Your leader comes from the ‘belly’ of the people.
I gather it means the leader of a country is the mirror of the people who elect him or her. Or the leader is no different from the people he represents similar to the adage the apple do not fall far from the tree.
But there are rotten apples that roll off the bank and rots the rest.
Among the politicians, there are many such apples, rotten to the core and rotting and corrupting others.
This is the impression one gets after witnessing for many decades how the lawmakers tear each other apart while the public is watching, hapless.
Anwar recently said he believes there are many ‘traitors’ around in the Malaysian political circle. He did not mention who they are, but the past ten months in Malaysian politics was a real roller coaster of betrayal and backstabbing.
I can’t believe how the members of the same party that supposedly fought for a solid reform agenda in Malaysia are tearing themselves apart on who should be the next Prime Minister of Malaysia.
Altogether, I cannot believe the amount of hypocrisy we are seeing from an opposition — perhaps the first in global history — that adores a Prime Minister.
The opposition is supposed to play the role of check and balance and they have the utmost responsibility to present to the people an alternative to the reigning PM, not the contrary.
They are not expected to support Anwar Ibrahim altogether, but to present a leader among their ranks whom they should qualify as the future PM.
This is how the opposition in a country on the verge of being a developed nation like Malaysia shows it is bankrupt of ideas and leadership?
No, an opposition sitting on the other side of the hemicycle should not kowtow to the PM or to the PM-to-be.
They should ‘bantai’ both just for the sake of being a good opposition, an alternative on which the country can count.
And for that matter, the ruling coalition, the Pakatan Harapan is to blame. Barely 17 months after they brought the Barisan Nasional regime down, they are bickering and tearing each other apart.
Leaders of a party in the coalition in power are split on the choice of PM, throwing their own leader under the bus, forgetting the sacrifices and the reform agenda.
It gives the impression the sofa in the powerful ministries they are occupying is as corrupt as the 1MDB board. Power corrupts they say. But the people in the corridors of power under the Pakatan Harapan has fallen in the same trap as the BN: They do not see what the people are seeing. They do not hear what the people are saying.
The people are fed up with their ‘Game of Thrones’ parody and the rumour mill carries more truths than the real news, same like it was during the BN rule.
This brings us to the elusive change in Malaysia or the mirage the PH is projecting, hoping it will atone the hungry public.
But the public can see everything and hear everything. The people seem to know more than the ruling class.
The ruling class is attacking their own PM-to-be, thrashing him and disrespecting his decades-old struggle for the pittance of a ministerial salary.
They have no idea what to do and what change to bring because if they remove all the levers and entrapments the BN has so craftily built around the corridors of power, they may collapse even faster than the BN.
And to make them feel comfortable in their misplaced roles, they are holding the left hands of the people who are grappling on straws in the deep sea in their right hands.
And what should Anwar Ibrahim do in this doomsday scenario? I believe he should stop answering the media or the public on whether he will be PM8 (Eighth Prime Minister) and let the real Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad answer to the public.
The PM is savvy, cunning but can also be scathing in his response. Let him take on his adversaries on his famous blog Chedet.cc and explain to the public why he is not willing to cut to the chase.
Silence is golden. By remaining silence from now on, Anwar will create a sense of havoc among his adversaries and they will open their mouths more than they should, spitting the truth and burying themselves in the slime.
In 2014, when our Editor met Anwar for the very first time, he asked what to do with the ‘Islamists’ who were plotting to betray the Pakatan Rakyat coalition.
He replied, ‘Cut them loose, let them go.”
Anwar said, “I cannot do that. it will weaken the PR.”
Our Editor’s response to that was it is inevitable that they (PAS) will betray the PR and will leave, but cutting them loose at a time when they are not ready could have been a good thing for the PR and for Anwar.
We are no good at telling people what to do. But we can express our thoughts freely, ‘Take it or leave it’.