Some say love and politics cannot be combined. A couple with different political views is most likely a couple destined to many tear-stained pillows. However, the political climate is sometimes as such that it brings people who downright disagree with each other, together. So with the craziness of the recent cabinet reshuffle which saw our Deputy Prime Minister replaced, along with the whole 1MDB dramacrisis; many a pillow has been stained… with love.
Because our examples below involve organizations or people who aren’t actually in romantic love (and we don’t wanna get sued), we’re going to use the term “bromance“ to describe their relationship, and provide a totally made-up scoring level to gauge their relationship based on how unlikely it was and how it’ll pan out in the end. We’re gonna be calling it…….. the Bromance level !!!!!!!!!!
It was the best name we could think of okay? Aaaaanyways, we’ll be ranking them from the least bromance to the most, and the least starts with…
7. PAS and UMNO
Have you ever broken up with someone only to find them flirting with your worst enemy at a bar a few weeks later? Well, we haven’t, but we’d imagine it’s a pretty lousy feeling. This was kinda what happened between the Opposition parties and UMNO, except without the bar. Unless you mean the Bar Council. That was a joke. Haha.
When the growing rift between DAP and PAS over the hudud issue caused the Pakatan Rakyat to tak berpakat, PAS ran to UMNO’s strong muscular hudud-supporting arms for comfort. While PAS pas-sed on a union with UMNO by saying it was “out of the question” as they still looked to “topple BN”, a former central committee member stated that PAS will selectively support UMNO on certain issues involving Islam and Malays to push the party’s hudud agenda.
DAP accused PAS of supporting PM Najib over the RM 2.6 billion in his bank account when their president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang said that four witnesses should be present to to support the allegations. PAS spiritual leader Dr. Haron Din also received thanks from PM Najib for calling the Wall Street Journal articles about him illogical because anyone taking public funds for his own use would have a secret account rather than a public one. PAS has defended its statements by explaining that the call for four witnesses were based on Islamic principles, and that Dr. Haron Din’s statement was misconstrued.
Just recently, PAS questioned if PM Najib still had time to run the country and save our falling exchange rate while trying to save his own skin; urging the PM to take leave and perform the umrah so that everyone involved in the investigation can go back to work without “unnecessary disturbance”.
Wah. Hot and cold. Macam Katy Perry song.
Bromance level: 3 witnesses/ 10 – PAS seems to be gunning more for Hudud than any long term relationships
6. Ibrahim Ali and the Christians for Peace and Harmony in Malaysia
Ibrahim Ali and his Perkasa NGO have been a
spear thorn on the side of many Christians over the issue of bibles containing the word “Allah”. There’s quite a bit to this story, but most of the drama lay in Ibrahim Ali’s call to burn the offending bibles which he claimed was to “defend the sanctity of Islam“.
However, he’s recently had a change of heart when he was invited to the launch of a new Christian group called Christians for Peace and Harmony in Malaysia (CPHM) along with PM Najib, who was guest of honor. Ibrahim Ali told reporters present that the meeting was “historic,” and Perkasa and CPHM have”fallen in love” with each other and decided to go on an overnight retreat to spend time understanding each other better.
Howeverrrrr, there’s a possible twist to this story: some people have raised suspicions that the CPHM is a political gimmick by the ruling party to gather more support from Christians, with one writer comparing the sudden appearance of the organization to Hitler’s “Reich church,” where Hitler, realizing he needed Christian support for his political rule, worked to get church leaders on his side.
Bromance level: 4 chocolate hearts/10 – we’re not sure if this is love or infatuation.
5. Utusan Malaysia and Transparency
Utusan Malaysia is (according to their senior online editor) very open about the fact that they’re owned by UMNO, and claimed there was no direct interference from any political party in their activities. Still, Utusan has very often been criticized for being the party’s mouthpiece with their pro-gomen articles and sometimes-racist headlines. We didn’t research too far into this, but we’re sure they’re one of the few, if not the only nationally-circulated paper that defended PM Najib’s Hawaii golf trip during one of the worst floods to hit Malaysia last year.
Now imagine the mind blow we got when Utusan’s August 9th editorial titled “Derma RM2.6 bilion dan integriti UMNO SPRM, rakyat bersama anda” strongly questioned the action taken against the MACC – even saying that it implies that a hidden hand was trying to kacau the investigation.
“[Actions taken against the MACC gives] the impression that it is a desperate, panic move, with no strategy and also gives an impression that there is a mastermind and hidden hand out to cripple the investigation which has taken a long time.”
“To all MACC staff, your work and sacrifices are honourable, we the people who are perceived to be stupid will continue to look up to you … Although we are peasants and without power, we are not easily fooled.”
At the time of writing, an article titled “Kembalikan taring Task Force” which we can only badly translate as “Return the teeth of the Task Force” was published, discussing the importance of the Task Forces’ work and how certain powers-that-be have been working to blunt their bite on corruption within the country.
Bromance level: 5 editorials /10 – It’s rare for us to say this, but #kipidap Utusan!
4. Khairy Jamaluddin and everybody
We’d argue that in terms of all the moderate and progressive voices within UMNO, Khairy’s probably the most well-known of the two (j/k). However, compared to Saifuddin (whom we’ll talk about in a bit #spoilers), Khairy seems to blessed with the superpowers to make errbody happy.
When the MACC confirmed that the RM 2.6 billion in PM Najib’s bank account were donations from the Middle East, Khairy defended PM Najib by saying that Najib did not commit any crimes as “there’s no law to prohibit political parties from receiving contributions from supporters” in Malaysia. He received a fair bit of criticism as his statement apparently shows “how little UMNO belittles the issues of integrity and governance“.
Four days later, Khairy criticized the continued intimidation of the MACC by the police and the transfer of two senior MACC officers to the Prime Minister’s Department, and praised the reinstatement of the officers as a positive development towards the MACC’s ability to jalankan tugas without intimidation. He’s also urged UMNO leaders to quickly address the all the issues regarding the money and 1MDB before it affects the party’s performance in the next election. Following the sacking of Deputy PM Muhyiddin for speaking up about Najib’s involvement with 1MDB, Khairy said he wasn’t afraid of losing his position as he was speaking up for what’s right.
So… that’s moderate, right? Everybody happy mah.
Bromance level: 2/10… no wait, 8/10… or maybe 6/10? – We can’t make up our minds!
3. UMNO ex-minister and the media
It seems hard to write negative things about Saifuddin Abdullah. We tried looking up bad stuff about him, but other than a few snarky comments on blogs, there’s really nothing much to contradict the Malay Mail Online’s headline that he’s the poster boy of moderation in Malaysia.
Saifuddin is an UMNO member who was at one of time MP for Temerloh and deputy Higher Education minister who, according to some claims, lost his seat in Parliament in GE13 due to “internal sabotage”. This was claimed to be mainly due to his liberal and progressive views which led him to criticize the government and his own party over some of their policies. To give you an idea of how he sticks to his guns, he even quit his post as a senior research fellow in Universiti Malaya in solidarity with Professor Datuk Dr Mohamad Redzuan Othman, who was forced to resign over research findings that put BN and PM Najib in a bad light.
Lately though, he’s been making headlines as the go-to guy for moderate/progressive opinions. Here are some recent highlights:
- Urging PM Najib to clarify the 1MDB allegations against him on live national TV as “Malaysians need to have clarity, and they will listen”.
- Advised BN to activate its direct membership in order to break down race-based politics and increase support among young people.
- Regulate money politics.
- Asking the “good people still in UMNO” to speak up.
- Marched with supporters of the #AtTheEdge rally for media freedom last week (August 8th).
You can also *cough* check out our *cough* interview with him *cough* and Parti Ikatan Bangsa president Tan Sri Kadir. But seriously though, we’re not even trying to make him look good. The guy really seems to walk the talk.
Bromance level: Moderate – While the guy is great, his name is still pretty unknown to most Malaysians.
2. The Prime Minister’s brother and Bank Negara
Okay so the picture above might need some background explaining…
A special task force was formed to investigate 1MDB, comprising of the MACC, the police, the Attorney-General, and Bank Negara. Bank Negara’s current Governor (aka the boss) is Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz, whom you’d know as the person who signs every Ringgit note you have on you right now. And that’s not all she does cause, believe us, heading the country’s central bank is not an easy job.
Because Tan Sri Zeti’s position also made her the person in charge of the Bank Negara side of the 1MDB investigations, there have been rumors that, like the MACC, she’s been put under immense pressure by the police– with her family being investigated by Special Branch for corruption.
Datuk Seri Nazir Razak on the other hand is PM Najib’s younger brother, chairman of the CIMB Group, and hardcore Instagram user who has openly criticized the management of 1MDB, calling the directors “irresponsible” and that they ought to resign. He’s also pretty close to Saifuddin Abdullah, with whom he plans to set up an NGO (initially rumored to be a political party) of moderates.
So here’s where the stories come together (in chronological order):
- Nazir apologized (on Instagram) for a Facebook post by one of his own senior executives who wrongly accused the Wall Street Journal of being conned by forged documents in the publication’s 1MDB exposé and ordered an internal inquiry on that particular executive.
- He praised Bank Negara (on Instagram) for their response to allegations that they leaked info on the 1MDB investigation to the media
- He posted the picture at the start of this point (on Instagram) calling the two women with him “icons of global finance”. The lady in the middle is Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (who sortakinda takes care of the world’s finances). In other words, he put Zeti on par with the 5th most powerful woman in the world.
So yea…. you kinda get the feeling that Nazir’s support isn’t exactly leaning towards his brother.
And in case you were wondering, his family relations with PM Najib was also reported to be pretty frosty and even more strained now in light of current events.
Bromance level: 6.5 Instagram posts / 10 – His comment that their father, second Malaysian PM Tun Abdul Razak would be shocked if he were to see the racial and religious divide today earned him an extra 0.5 points.
1. The MACC and DAP
The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and DAP haven’t exactly been the best of friends since the MACC’s inception in 2009. While there were complaints that the agency wasn’t being fair in its investigations, it wasn’t till the mysterious death of DAP political aide Teoh Beng Hock, who was found dead while in the MACC’s custody, that criticisms against the agency went full-force.
As recently as June, DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang accused the MACC of covering up the RM 65 million Australian land scandal involving MARA, saying that the agency had been tipped off more than 6 months before the story broke and would not have done anything if Australian newspaper The Age didn’t break the story.
So imagine the confused looks when it was reported that the DAP led a gathering of Opposition leaders to the MACC headquarters (Here’s the video from KiniTV if you wanna watch it) on August 6th as a show of solidarity against the agency’s alleged harassment by the police and Putrajaya over their investigation of the 1MDB crisis, with Lim saying:
“We should not carry out activities as if suspecting each other as traitors, MACC should be allowed to carry out its anti corruption duty,” – Lim Kit Siang, as quoted by The Malay Mail Online.
In response, MACC strategic communications director Rohaizad Yaakob said:
“We thank the MPs and leaders who have come to show their support for us, and we will continue to do our best work” – Rohaizad Yaakob, as quoted by The Sun Daily.
We kinda expect them to do some kinda Dragon Ball-like fusion into a super-entity sometime in the near future.
Bromance level: Over 9000!!!! /10 – Who would’ve seen this coming?
BONUS: Mahathir and Razaleigh Hamzah (allegedly!)
Compared to the rest of the points on this list, this one comes with a huge disclaimer:
We weren’t able to find any other sources to back this up other than an article by The Asia Sentinel, so please pinch salt liberally. Sekian.
Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, otherwise more affectionately known as Ku Li, has been politically active since the 60’s but it wasn’t till the late 80’s that he got into political loggerheads with Dr. M. In 1987, Ku Li challenged Dr. M for the UMNO presidency, which caused a split within the party that led to the 1988 Malaysian Constitutional Crisis. Dr. Mahathir’s very narrow 43-vote win during the UMNO elections led to rumors that the elections were rigged, which resulted in a lawsuit and… long story short, yea, you might say they weren’t exactly on the best of terms.
So you can imagine how epic it is when these two powerhouses (allegedly!) met on August 11th to talk about “forming a unity government to remove PM Najib“. But like we said, we couldn’t find any other reports of this, so take it with a pinch of salt, yeah?
Bromance level: Currently undetermined – Although, Ku Li has previously said that he and Dr. M were friends despite what happened and that he wouldn’t mind working together “in fighting for a shared cause”.
All this bromance can last meh?
We’re pretty sure there are quite a few of you out there already asking that question, and all we can say is:
Well fine, to elaborate, as the old saying goes – The enemy of my enemy is my friend.
The best way we can explain the saying is with the movie Pacific Rim (or most other alien invasion movies) in which countries put aside their differences to fight against a common, larger enemy. If you haven’t seen Pacific Rim then sorry la, dunno how else to explain to you. Anyways, this concept is clearer in some bromances such as the DAP-MACC or the PAS-UMNO one, where both sides will reap some benefit from supporting each other against a common foe. However, this is less clear in the case of Utusan Malaysia, in which the reason for the sudden change in tone is less obvious.
Sure, it could be to improve their image and readership since the paper’s been losing money and readers, but that’s us being jaded and skeptical. The optimist in us thinks that maybe things have come to a point where even the ruling party’s mouthpiece decides to bite the hand that feeds it.
We can’t tell how long these unions will last, if at all, but it sure is comforting to know that (some) good changes are coming out of this whole debacle, and that somewhere out there, Perkasa and the Christians for Peace and Harmony in Malaysia are in some secluded island resort getting to know each other better.