This photograph provides a snapshot of Malaysian politics from Mahathir’s vantage point.
This banner was put up outside the USM perimeter wall in Penang to promote the Perkasa forum ‘Transformasi Ekonomi dan Pelajaran Melayu Pulau Pinang’ held at the UiTM campus in Permatang Pauh on the mainland.
Someone then stuck a few ABU (Anything but Umno) stickers at strategic points on the banner.
If I was to interpret this, I would say Mahathir (and by extension Umno) has his back against the wall, stung by recent revelations such as the RCI testimonies about the granting of citizenship papers just before the Sabah elections in 1995.
As more and more scandals implicating Umno personalities are revealed, Mahathir can see the writing on the wall, especially the wave of ABU sentiment. This sentiment was especially evident in the huge turnout at #KL112, which must have given him even more cause for alarm.
He then uses racial and religious rhetoric to whip up communal support, in the process falling deeper into Perkasa’s embrace, as this banner eloquently illustrates. In this way, he hopes to keep Umno in power by continuing with the BN’s divide-and-rule rule tactics, thus securing his (and his former cronies’) rotten ‘legacy’.
In this instance, he uses the occasion of the Perkasa event to divert attention from Sabah by suggesting that people should look at how Tunku granted citizenship to those already in the country before Independence.
A classic case of comparing apples (a transparent, above board arrangement that was part of the negotiations for Independence) and oranges (a covert clandestine operation apparently aimed at undermining the democratic process). A classic Mahathir tactic.
Unfortunately for him, more and more people can see through this sort of diversionary tactic.