Saturday, April 30, 2022

'Small tent' approach seems more feasible

P Ramasamy

ADUN SPEAKS | A big tent approach or some other kind of alliance between opposition Pakatan Harapan and those who are opposed to Umno/BN such as Bersatu, PAS, and others might be an attempt to think out of the box.

It might even be described as an ingenious way to integrate those opposed to Umno/BN. A big tent approach might avoid the pitfalls of a formal alliance to take on the juggernaut of Umno/BN.

It might reduce political and other differences, to prevail without them being mechanically reduced to certain common denominators.

For an informal grouping to form and take on Umno/BN, the necessity of cooperation must outweigh the reasons not to.

However, I don’t see that happening as the differences between Harapan and Bersatu or PAS seem unbridgeable.

It is not so much the alliance or partial alliance between the coalitions per se. It is more about the glaring differences between say PAS and DAP and Amanah, the bad blood between PKR and its former deputy president Azmin Ali’s faction now in Bersatu.

Never forget betrayals

It is not just ideological differences between the parties on the different sides of the political divide, it is about betrayals leading to the complete lack of trust between Harapan and Bersatu.

How can Harapan forget what happened with the infamous and insidious Sheraton Move? It was the mother of betrayals that saw the collapse of the Harapan government within the period of 22 months in power.

Azmin Ali at the Sheraton Hotel in February 2020

Yes, it is great and magnanimous to talk about politics as being the art of the possible, but surely there are limits to this lofty thought.

It was the stealth build-up based on racial and religious extremism that caused the collapse of the legitimate government.

The fact that DAP was in power was something that was not accepted by the extreme parties such as Bersatu and more so PAS.

The extreme application of race and religion was the main reason that laid the basis for the formation of the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government.

How can DAP or Harapan forgive and forget a major betrayal that happened not too long ago?

Is politics so cheap and degrading that the Sheraton Move incident could be just forgotten overnight to think of a big tent approach whether wholly or partially?

The extent of a common enemy

For an oppositional alliance to take shape, the political enemy must be so bad that necessitates friendship with those who are opposed to the political enemy.

This means sinking differences to the extent of taking on a common political foe.

Are there any real differences between Umno, Bersatu and PAS?Why should Harapan enter into a friendship with Bersatu or PAS to take on Umno/BN?

Aren’t these parties the real source of the problem for the emergence of an alternative coalition in the country envisaged by Harapan?

It is really not about moving in the direction of cooperation or not, but what is Harapan’s and its component parties’ stand in facing the next general election?

Why is Harapan bent on thinking of alternative ways of cooperation rather than ensuring ways to strengthen the coalition in the face of the impending general election?

The betrayal of Bersatu was something not easily forgotten by Harapan. It might even override thoughts of cooperation and understanding between the oppositional forces to take on Umno/BN.

Even if the big tent approach is not feasible, the exclusion of Bersatu and PAS does not necessarily render cooperation with other Harapan-friendly parties.

Maybe not a big tent but a small tent might do at least for the moment as events are fast unfolding.

P RAMASAMY is Perai assemblyperson and Penang deputy chief minister II.

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