19 March 2014
With all the attacks on Pakatan leaders, namely Karpal Singh and Anwar Ibrahim, being conducted via the judicial system, what does the future hold for the opposition?
In the short term, I think that their immediate concern of the Kajang by-election is not an issue. It would be very surprising indeed if PKR were to lose this seat. The question is; if two of their top leaders are put away or disqualified, can the coalition hold together?
I don’t see why not as long as they put up a united front. Much has been said about how Anwar is the glue that binds the PKR, DAP and PAS together. There is truth in that statement. His charisma and political nous, as well as his being able to straddle both the liberal and religious elements of the coalition does make him a formidable leader as well as an important one.
The thing is, are the respective parties so immature and petty that they need a father figure to hold them together? Are they so driven by self-interest that they are not able to come together with a common agenda that is acceptable to the majority of Malaysians.
As far as the second point is concerned, they have already shown that they can appeal to the voters of the country. The fact that they won the popular vote in the last election is clear proof of this. Furthermore, the Pakatan has also demonstrated that they are more than competent managers and administrators, seeing as how Selangor and Penang are going from strength to strength. This is not to say that governance in either of these states is perfect, but it would be churlish to not concede that they are generally doing quite well.
As long as they can stick together with a clear agenda for the nation, then the loss of a few leaders should not be a problem. If they allow party politics to rule and become power hungry for their own “gang” then they would lose the war and all that has been achieved so far will come to naught.
This grab for power will take its most obvious form in the question as to who shall lead the coalition and thus who will be their candidate for Prime Minister in the next general election. It is a big question indeed and frankly at this point I can’t think of any one of them who is obviously the best choice.
If however, we work on the premise that in the Westminster system, the Prime Minister is little more than the first amongst equals, then although it is desirable to have a strong and popular individual to be leader, surely what matters more is the team behind that individual. If the Pakatan can stand firm on their agreed manifesto and show that they are, as a team, capable of living up to their promises, then there should be nothing to hinder their progress. After all, it would be naïve to think that the support they received over the last two elections has been purely on Anwar’s ability to pull in the crowds at ceramahs. Nor are their successes strictly speaking about the individual parties. Their appeal has been in the fact that as a coalition they put up a feasible and attractive alternative government, and that is what they should remember.