Sunday, May 12, 2013

A Week After GE13, Anwar Risks Self-Marginalisation Inside Pakatan

The late Harold Wilson, an historic former British Prime Minister, once famously remarked that "a week is a long time in politics."

The week since last Sunday's GE13 has seemed longer than seven days.
Events since GE13 can be summed up this way:
  • Datuk Seri Najib Razak is calling for national reconciliation and is promising to be the Prime Minister of all Malaysians.
  • Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has refused to accept the results and is busy thinking up new one-liners to simplify his pre-GE13 warning that if he lost it could only be as a result of fraud. He is in full rabble-rousing mode.
  • Anwar's long-time friend and Deputy PKR President is triggering what pro-PKR portal The Malaysian Insider is calling a PKR leadership crisis, and what we would call "The Mother of All Feuds."
  • Lim Kit Siang is behaving like a reasonable and responsible opposition leader for the most part, saying the way to handle suspicions of election fraud is through petitions and the courts once the results are gazetted. He is also distancing himself decisively from Anwar's repeated calls for an "Arab Spring" in Malaysia.
  • Dato Seri Haji Abdul Hadi bin Awang is trying to get back to normal life, having accepted the results of GE13 and Pakatan's performance as "the will of Allah."
What a week it has been!

We have now seen angry conflicts inside PKR that have appeared to put Anwar and his wife on different sides of the dispute over who should be MB of Selangor.
We have seen and a widening gap between Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's refusal to accept the result and his militant campaign to make noise in stadiums across the country and those who accept the election results (like Hadi Awang).

We have seen others inside PKR and even the DAP who may have doubts about some of the results but who disagree with Anwar's theatrics and believe instead that challenges should be made through the courts rather than in the streets.

Najib spoke of the "Chinese tsunami" and that may have angered some in the opposition. But Najib, who has made the 1Malaysia concept the core of his administration, still refuses to back down from the promise of a Malaysia undivided by race or religion.

Most importantly, he has pledged himself to national reconciliation, calling for harmony and efforts to bridge the growing divides in an increasingly polarised Malaysian society.

"I love my country and I'm proud of how far we have progressed. And I know that by working together as one nation, our best days are still to come," he said Friday in a blog entry at his site,

MCA was pummelled at GE13, leading party president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek to promise to step down shortly.
It has been reported that MCA will follow its promise not to accept any Government posts. We disagree with that.

We hope that Najib will ensure that there is Chinese representation in the Cabinet, as he is committed to racial harmony and multi-racial representation in Government.
Najib has taken GE13's results as a mandate not to slow, but to accelerate the country's and his party's transformation. National reconciliation, unity and economic growth will be the key words of the day for some time.

As for Pakatan Rakyat, it may be fairly said that whatever BN's flaws, one of their greatest strengths is the Opposition leader's incompetence.

On election night, Anwar was true to form, first tweeting victory and then calling for rallies against a 'fraudulent' election with a united Pakatan leadership behind him.

In the past few days he has had his rallies, but Pakatan is no longer united behind him.
PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang has accepted the election results, calling on PAS to fight on to win Putrajaya at GE14.

DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang has emerged not only as the real leader of Pakatan, but also the voice of moderation, calling for election results to be challenged in the courts, not in protests.
In a recent Australian radio interview, he rubbished the idea of an 'Arab Spring' in Malaysia, so dear to Anwar's heart. Instead he promoted a "peaceful and orderly process" to address concerns about the elections. He also called for his GE13 opponent Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman to be given a Cabinet post, thereby again indirectly promoting the legitimacy of the Government.
Anwar's determination to re-create the protest movement that he initiated after being sacked as DPM has not only increasingly isolated him from the rest of the Opposition's leadership. It has also allowed his party to fracture around him.

In the week since the most consequential elections in Malaysian history, Najib has shown he is willing to work hard to unify the nation. Anwar instead is on a trip and risks lapsing further into irrelevance and self-marginalisation inside Pakatan even as others in his coalition appear ready to move forward and get on with the real job of serving the rakyat.

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