Saturday, February 23, 2013

Pakatan's Weakest Link

As the general election looms and excitement fills the air that we may be just weeks into welcoming in a new government with a shared vision and value system based upon justice, equality and trust, we are constantly reminded and confronted by an unstable coalition partnership. Pakatan was formed through the initiative of Keadilan, the party formed and led by the charismatic and some may even say, controversial leader, Anwar Ibrahim. Keadilan is the youngest and smallest partner with the bigger and stronger DAP representing primarily Chinese interest although it has lately managed to attract more non-Chinese membership to debunk its racist countenance; and PAS the Islamist party that thrive on the platform of pursuing a regime governed upon Islamic principles, doctrines and way of life. Even though each of the coalition partners carry in their intrinsic weaknesses, by far the most worrisome are from PAS. Let us review them individually.

This party has a multiracial composition like by most Malaysians. On the surface it represents what we aspire although the membership and leadership are predominantly Malays. Never mind that since the Malays are majority in the country so should be appropriately reflected in its roll. The struggle by Keadilan is towards a society that is just and equitable, a clarion call citizens who love and are patriotic to their country can identify with. Given a choice we would like Keadilan to be the biggest coalition partner. Sadly it is not. Although Malays accept the party ideology some may feel it is giving too much lee ways to meritocracy and forgetting the Malay roots and struggle that continue to haunt many Malays who felt progress may destroy their identity and importance in national growth and be swept aside by the more aggressive and hardy Chinese community who are a perceived threat to their dominance in all spheres of human activities. Keadilan is the right approach towards a new Malaysia that will unshackle our ghost to the past colonial dependence on the British. But will the majority Malays have faith in its vision?

Ask anyone the answer will be it is the Chinese opposition party. Perhaps it is due to the strong party leadership of Lim Kit Siang and his son Lim Guan Eng. DAP makes no excuse that its struggle is Chinese rooted but also claim to represent the larger interest of championing the Malaysian Malaysia concept mooted much earlier than the similar 1Malaysia slogan introduced by the current government administration under Najib Razak. DAP is often compared to MCA, the Chinese component party of Barisan government that has apparently failed in its role and duty. DAP is poised to be the Chinese voice and more. Its weakness is the non-Chinese citizens are uncomfortable with its too Chinese membership and philosophy. Efforts to increase Malay and Indian membership have not succeeded well.

Arguably this party has survived incredibly over 50 years of Barisan dominance but that was only in the more backward eastern and northern states that are more rural and Malay based. Obviously the Malays there like PAS more than UMNO, the Barisan's Malay party due perhaps to the fact that PAS adheres closer to Islamic teachings and are less corruptible (perhaps conditions are not yet in place to facilitate the slide). PAS tend to waver in pushing its Islamic principles towards the non-Malays who like them one way but suspect them for being patient in waiting for the right time to Islamize the nation which make non-Malays uncomfortable. Given the chance PAS will demand that Pakatan follow its principles. Its greatest weakness lie in tendency towards a religious governance unacceptable in multiracial Malaysia where a sizable 38% of the population are not Malays. Raising issues of Syariah laws for Malays only fail to assure the non-Malays that it will not be extended to them if PAS become too powerful and dominate Pakatan.

Who will lead Pakatan?
It was almost a done deal that Anwar Ibrahim will be prime minister should it come into power. He is acceptable to DAP who accepts that a Chinese cannot (at this moment) be a prime minister. But PAS refuses to concede that its leader cannot be the prime minister as he is a Malay and commands a larger electoral support than Keadilan. Just yesterday it was again reported that a faction within PAS is demanding the PMship be given to PAS. This is unacceptable to DAP and most likely the non-Malay voters who support Keadilan. This last minute power struggle by minions who fail to see the larger picture of changing the nation's political landscape will dent Keadilan's chance. There is no perfect coalition. What concerned Malaysians hope for is for Keadilan leadership to stop fighting for power even before power is won. Be more servant like and work towards the rehabilitation of the nation in whatever role and position given. The body life of Pakatan must be like that of a human body where each organ plays an important role to sustain a healthy body instead of quarreling over rights and might.

Don't allow human sinfulness and greed be the downfall of a fledging coalition we have put so much hope to build a strong 2-party political system. Instead work towards the common and collective good of all Malaysians irrespective of race, background and religion. It can be done through humility and unity in a common goal for a better country for our children and grandchildren.

May God grant wisdom and discernment to those leaders in position to invoke the desired changes for the well being of all citizens, young and old.


Anonymous said...

I do agree that Pakatan has weaknesses. I am not pro PR, in fact I have voted for both sides in past elections. But in BN' case, absoulte power has corrupted them absolutely. Its time for a re-boot and also have a strong 2nd option. BN was a great coalition in the past, but it has been hijacked by warlords and gangsters. It can be great again after a few terms in the opposition aisle. Andrew

Peter Yew said...

If we accept the reality that we will always be voting in and dealing with imperfect governments, then the option is really to choose a government that we believe can deliver a better future. The issue is not past experience but the model we believe is appropriate for the Malaysia of the 21st century. The problem is some Malaysians are afraid of change and of the unknown X factor, can PR deliver its promises? The answer is really you never know the outcome until you are prepared to take a calculated risk. Based on the current development I believe the risk in giving PR the chance to form the next government will be well placed. We know that race relations will always nibble at our heels but since when do any country enjoy perfect harmony? The next 5 years are critical to our future. If BN wins convincingly, we are likely to see more of their true color; if they win narrowly they will replay the scenes of today. But if PR wins with even a simple majority we are likely to see defections as I believe there is a silent group of BN lawmakers who are waiting to jump ship when the time is right. Again this may not be morally right but is the reality we have to face. PR will encounter sabotage by BN sympathizers and the nation will need 2-3 years to stabilize and to begin to see a real improvement. The people must be patient to let the new government gain its foothold before passing early judgement on its capability. Only at the 14GE do well really know if they or the BN deserve to be installed as the next government. Until them it is time to face change as I see it is really no other way out.


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