3 August 2014
The Pakatan coalition does not have an easy job. Because we, as a nation have never had a proper two party system, the opposition will always be faced with the question “can they govern”?
This means that not only do they have to battle a political giant, in the form of the Barisan, with so much wealth and influence at its disposal; they have to battle public perception as well.
In the last two general elections, the people have been supporting the Pakatan in growing numbers. In the last election, they won the popular vote. The sentiment behind this support I believe is because of dissatisfaction with the Barisan and also a sense that “we should give Pakatan a chance”.
Of course, we all know that they did not manage to take Putrajaya, but they did manage to control several state legislatures. After the last election, Penang, Selangor and Kelantan are controlled by Pakatan. Kelantan has been under a PAS administration for many years, and with all due respect to Kelantan, that is not a place where most Malaysians look to see if Pakatan can govern well.
The focus has been on Penang and Selangor. Both states have their issues and problems, but Selangor has been in the spot light recently, for all the wrong reasons.
There is clearly a leadership crisis, with PKR wanting to replace the Menteri Besar, with a new one. This is not a particularly strange thing. The problem is that the whole process has been very messy and it does not engender public confidence in Pakatan.
The messiness takes the form of several things. The public spats between important Pakatan players, is unsightly and undignified. The use of social media to call one another names is childish and gives the distinct impression of immaturity. And naturally it provides ammunition for the coalition’s detractors and enemies.
Also the apparent split between PKR and DAP on one side and PAS on another with regard to the decision of replacing the Menteri Besar reflects a certain fragility in the strength of the coalition. This is made worse by some PAS members making noises about joining forces with the Barisan.In principle, I see no issue with a ruling party wanting to change their leader. There may be good reasons why Khalid should be changed. There are of course those who support him and think that his style, of quietly going about his work without political grandstanding, is a very good thing. Such differing views are natural and healthy; it is up to the Pakatan to decide which argument is stronger and then based on that choose a new Meneteri Besar or stick with the current one.
And as much as I sympathise with Selangor citizens who feel they want things to remain as they are, let us not forget that in our system of governance, the people do not choose the Prime Minister or the Menteri Besar; we choose a party, and they in turn decide who they want to lead. Therefore, if Pakatan want to replace Khalid, that is their prerogative and we the people can either make our feelings known by voicing our disagreement or by voting against them if we feel their choices are bad.
No, changing the Menteri Besar is not the issue. The issue here is the naïve way that disagreement within the Pakatan has been allowed to spill out into the public domain. The issue here is the seemingly growing rift between PAS and its partners. The issue here is that this whole fiasco has made Pakatan look divided and worse still incompetent.
Like I said earlier, I believe that people voted the way they did because they were dissatisfied with Barisan and they wanted to give Pakatan a chance. Pakatan must not depend only on the dissatisfaction of the people; they have been given a chance, they must not waste it.