The Malaysian Insider’s Pakatan still green despite looming polls, say analysts stated:
…political analysts have said Pakatan Rakyat (PR) remains at best a work in progress. While the federal opposition is expected to pose a serious challenge to the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN), ill-defined policies and a vague common platform provide few clues to voters as to what a PR administration will look like they said.
There is some truth in this report, in that there is no common Pakatan platform yet (other than to topple BN), nor indications on how a Pakatan government would rule in the event it comes to power.
As a coalition which claims to be the alternative government in waiting, it has for a start failed in the simple matter of establishing a shadow cabinet, as I posted in Shadow Cabinet.
I then wrote (extracts): The real answer why it hasn’t done so is the coalition fears the component parties won’t be able to agree to a distribution of ministerial portfolios. […] Quite frankly, I don’t consider you fit to take over the business of the government of the day if you cannot even resolve this power sharing now!
The reality is Pakatan is a very loose coalition, with each political member a sovereign political party and only two having some idea of where they want to politically go. There is strength is a loose coalition but at the same there would be weaknesses.
The weaknesses are obvious and collectively the subject of The Malaysian Insider’s article.
However, the strength is that such a coalition does not function like the BN, where UMNO is ‘THE’ only real sovereign party and the rest mere ‘subordinate’ branches of UMNO.
Take a simple example - the MCA has to submit its list of election candidates to the UMNO president for approval. While UMNO is no doubt the BN's primus inter pares (first among equals), for MCA to seek UMNO's approval would be going beyond the understanding of primus inter pares. Only subordinates seek approval from a superior.
MCA members live under the sad illusion or dream that their party stands as an equal or even junior partner, instead of the reality it is nothing more than a ‘subordinate’ of UMNO (and not a partner). I hope MCA members understand the difference between a ‘junior partner’ and a ‘subordinate’.
So, what kind of coalition is this other than a one-party (UMNO) conglomerate with Indian and Chinese-based ‘branches’, not unlike PAS’ non-Muslim supporters.
OK, back to our subject, the Pakatan Rakyat coalition. Notwithstanding the criticism of its ‘ill-defined policies’, two of Pakatan’s component parties do have clear visions as to what they are politically striving for.
PAS obviously aims for an Islamic State. However, since 2008 and a series of subsequent by-elections it understands that non-Muslim support is crucial to many of its candidates winning the election, so there is political profit to make themselves acceptable to non-Muslims in order to gain their backing.
Today, even UMNO Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin made the unpopular message (to his Youth camp) about the importance of the non-Malay voters – see Malaysiakini’s Khairy: Relying on the Malay vote alone will lose us seats. Khairy believes 50 federal seats hang on the support of the 'sepet mata - kaki botol' sector while I was informed PAS hopes to gain 64 seats through the same targeted voters.
Though there is always a (not at all discounted) fear that PAS will eventually renege on its promises to the non-Muslims, because theocratic states, especially Muslim ones, don’t have a good record of being tolerant to other religions or non-Muslims, let me tell MCA about recent worrying news for their members and wannabe candidates which I learnt from a sweetie who has just returned from Malaysia.
She recounted how Chinese Penangites and Kedahans have openly expressed to her their scorn for MCA members as only caring for their own pockets while neglecting the interests of the Chinese community, and their preparedness to vote for the traditionally feared party, PAS, to bring the BN down. Isn't this feeling similar to the case of many non-Malays rallying around the original Anwar Ibrahim's reformasi banner even though they knew of him as one of the most unpleasant and aggressive UMNO leaders?
I have my views about the long term reliability of PAS as a Pakatan partner but I shall hold them back for a wee while.
Meanwhile, the DAP continues on its track for a secular government of good provenance, accountability, and meritocracy, though without ignoring the requirement for affirmative action but one which should be based on needs rather than ethnicity. This explains why the well-off (and of course wannabe well-off) in UMNO are against asset-tested access to the largess of the NEP. The DAP is not perfect, but like PAS, it does have a vision, platform, policies and clear cut objectives.
We finally come to PKR. The main weakness in Pakatan lies not so much in PKR as a party but in its (former UMNO) leadership.
As many of my anwarista detractors know, I have for years lamented quite regularly about PKR (and its earlier incarnation KeADILan) and its non-reform single-issue objective, namely, to secure the release of an incarcerated Anwar Ibrahim. For credibility and public support it claimed political reforms as its policy, though its KeADILan leaders including and especially Anwar Ibrahim (right up to the moment when he was booted out of UMNO) had shown no credible record of political reforms whatsoever.
But nonetheless a frustrated public, weary of decades of increasing BN corruption and arrogance and thus ripe for political proselytizing, eagerly adopted its battle cry and claimed cause. Today the non-Muslim element of the frustrated public has now included supporting PAS as part of its cause to topple BN.
Just a question, did any remarkable reforms from PKR happen since Anwar's release or even post March 2008? Just recall 916 and its shameful frog d’etat.
Obviously for Pakatan’s 82 to defeat 140, Anwar claimed he had the jump-over numbers, and he wasn’t even embarrassed by that most non-reformasi cheating of the voters.
Just imagine how a voter would feel, if after voting for Party X, sees her representative changing allegiance to Party Y? C’mon, you know that feeling because you too felt it when the Perak DUN changed hands. Didn’t you curse the Whore of Jelapang and her erstwhile PKR fellow defectors? Yet you have the hypocrisy to condemn those frogs? Only Karpal Singh and kaytee have that right wakakaka!
Though Anwar wasn’t able to change his UMNO spots, as explicitly demonstrated by 916, far too many still believe in his pseudo-reformasi.
Today Anwar Ibrahim is in trouble again and the party (perhaps minus the PRM component) has very comfortably reverted to its original raison d’etre, that of struggling for just Anwar Ibrahim (and his favourites) but quite frankly, never for or about the rakyat. It’s a familiar, comfortable, convenient and simplified struggle because it avoids or delays the difficult job of evolving good higher policies for the interests of the nation and rakyat, and to show it has become a party quite different from its mother party, UMNO!
Zaid Ibrahim succinctly brought this PKR problem to the surface when he said, as reported in The Malaysian Insider’s Zaid says ‘unworthy’ to focus solely on saving Anwar where he wrote:
Our coalition partners deserve better from us. Whilst we need to secure justice for Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim there are so many more injustices facing the people of this nation that require our attention. […] The party needed to pay attention to those they sought to represent. […] The people were clamouring for economic and social justice and the right to be treated with respect and dignity.
It is unworthy of us to reduce this party to a one-issue party. It is unworthy for those we seek to represent. […] We are not merely the party of reformasi but also of reform. My interest is in that future.
While other candidates harp on their ability to protect Anwar, I believe he has mustered the best legal team to protect him.
I too care about him and his family but above all it is the struggle and interests of the people that is paramount. And I know that the party members will be able to make that distinction.
I don't know about his hope that '... party members will be able to make that distinction', because I have no doubt that right now Zaid is being excoriated by the anwarista pack for making the above statement - a most statesman-like advice for the future of the PKR party, but alas, obviously one which didn’t recognize the exalted position of the anwaristas' demigod.
But as I've said, the anwaristas can’t help it because if we recall, PKR has its political genesis as a single-issue (cultist) party. It was never about reforms. Obviously Zaid sees what most non-anwaristas see as well, that the commitment of a political party cannot be based on, nor confined only to the interests of one single personality.
Just as a reminder that, very unlike Anwar Ibrahim who was thrown out of UMNO, screaming and taking to the streets to show his petulance at being denied his UMNO ‘inheritance, Zaid Ibrahim resigned as a minister and left UMNO voluntarily – for more see my post Do you truly know Zaid Ibrahim?
Zaid wants to change PKR’s pseudo-refomasi cause. It’s just telling what he advised party members:
… PKR needed to be consistent in its policies together with its PR partners of PAS and DAP. Leaders in both PKR and PR must always place the nation’s interest above all else. There needs to be a consensus on what we stand for as a group ...
Can Zaid change PKR’s UMNO-ish mentality and save the coalition for its due place in Putrajaya, or will he fail because of PKR sectorian interests, for Pakatan to be let down by that party in its blind obedience to Anwar Ibrahim's personal interests, his single burning obsession, to sit on the high altar of the Malaysian PM-ship, regardless?