My good matey Ong Kian Ming has written Silver lining in Lim-Anwar spat in Malaysiakini.
He was referring to the recent verbal stoush over the Fairus resignation between Lim GE and PKR (rather than Anwar Ibrahim himself). Of course Anwar being always the ‘good bloke’ left it to his subordinates like Dr Syed Husin and Zahrain Hasim, the Penang PKR chief, to do the nasty bits for him against Lim.
This was one of the points Ong stated about the ‘silver lining’: And Anwar, by apologising for having kept Guan Eng in the dark, has shown that he is using a different leadership approach compared to his Umno counterpart.
Well, the reality is Mr Man Man Lai had no choice but to adopt a different approach. Vis-à-vis the DAP, his PKR is not the comparable juggernaut that UMNO had been and still is to the MCA.
(Note I haven’t mentioned Gerakan because this party, after Dr Lim Chong Eu relinquished the party controls to eventually fall ino the hands of Koh TK, has become the obsequious UMNO puppet to the degree which I must say MCA at least hasn’t, so its relationship with UMNO is more like serf to lord - sorry Darren).
PKR is not the UMNO-ish Taikoh by any means, much as it may wish to be or had behaved. It has only 31 seats to DAP’s 28 (of which 1 so-called PKR’s seat is actually occupied by PSM’s Dr Jeya).
Now, a good chunk of the DAP's holdings had been won in its own heartland while PKR obtained theirs through the windfall (or wavefall?) of the tsunamic political change of March 2008. The DAP's position is far far more solid, stable and settled.
Thus Anwar knows that, unlike PAS and the DAP, he lacks a historically dependable power base. Also, unlike PAS or UMNO he doesn’t have a hold yet in the heartland and depends mainly on Chinese and Indian support (yes, younger and urban Malays are supportive too of PKR but not so the heartland). Therefore a friendly association with DAP has been and will be more to its advantage.
I believe that DAP has contributed more substantially to the coalition than PKR. The contrast between the PKR versus DAP by-election campaign efforts in Machap and Ijok was a classic case study of who had been the more committed party and more sincere ally.
In recent times, the by-elections in Kuala Terengganu, Bukit Selambau and Bukit Gantang also demonstrated the DAP's total commitment, effort and sincerity towards the coalition.
Even in Parliament, it’s Lim Kit Siang who’s playing a substantial, significant and scincillating role as Opposition Leader while the Great One goes globe-gallivanting for reasons known only to himself and his own agenda.
Look, what has Anwar done substantially thus far for Pakatan, as in his promiseS to form a shadow cabinet?
Well I'd say that goes into the same category as his promiseS to discipline the Kulim Wonder, make a ‘BIG’ announcement to shake Najib's legitimacy as PM (300 PPP frogs? wakakaka), reform Malaysian politics by deforming the supremacy of the ballot box through frogs and his half-past six 916, and his pathetic failure at even political defections in Perak!
Unlike my matey Ong Kian Ming, I am not prepared to put him in the commendable position of his using a different approach to UMNO because he had believed that to be the right thing.
His lack of real power makes him realize he’s not in a position to annoy the DAP, contrary to the MCA people's belief, jibes and jeers at Lim GE as Anwar's political stooge. Au contraire, Anwar had to apologize to Lim GE because he had no choice and more to lose.
Maybe Ong might have forgotten or forgiven Anwar Ibrahim for the way he behaved towards Chinese and Indians and their parties when he was in UMNO?
But Ong is completely correct when he wrote: But by making the decision to go ‘public’ with his dissatisfaction of being kept out of the loop by Anwar in regard to the situation with former DCM1 Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin, and with his possible replacement, Guan Eng has shown that unlike his predecessor in Penang, he is not afraid to ‘flex his muscles’ vis-à-vis the de facto leader of Pakatan.
Ong then went on to explain in some details the position of Penang’s DCM1, as follows:
Guan Eng clearly did not usurp Anwar’s authority when he stated that the DCM1 position was, and still is, very much Anwar’s decision, and Anwar will demonstrate this authority by nominating the person who stands in the Penanti seat to be the next DCM1 in Penang. Hence, both sides can chalk up a ‘win’ in their respective scoring columns.
I disagree with Ong on the concept of ‘Anwar’s authority’ vis-à-vis the DCM1 position because it’s solely, wholly and undoubtedly the Chief Minister’s sole perogative to fill it with the ADUN of his choice. Even Lim GE had stated so several times.
Admittedly there is a power sharing arrangement in Penang between DAP and PAS as political allies, but political protocol dictates that only and only the Chief Minister decides who his deputy or deputies shall be. It’s only courtesy and cooperation, as part of the coalition power-sharing arrangements, that Lim GE has left it (as his/Lim’s perogative) to the PKR leadership to fill the post.
I believe what Ong meant as ‘Anwar’s authority’ would be more appropriately the PKR’s decision to select its candidate for the Penanti constituency, because that seat was assigned to PKR prior to the last general election.
And recall, as a mark of DAP's ire at Zahrain Hashim (and thus its show of power vis-à-vis PKR), DAP has stated in no uncertain terms it will not accept Zahrain as DCM1 if that bloke were to stand as candidate for Penanti.
But I fear for the DAP when/if the time comes for Anwar Ibrahim to believe he no longer needs the DAP as much as he does now, and unleashes Tian Chua, Gobala and the Chinese/Indian components of PKR to ‘chneow tian’ (fighting for the throne = power struggle) from the DAP.