Friday, May 3, 2013

Can Pakatan Rakyat Fool Voters Into Overlooking Its Litany of Follies?

Pakatan Rakyat's slim hopes of winning GE13 rest on the fact that it is not Barisan Nasional. Every interview Anwar gives focuses on what's wrong with the present Government, not what he has to offer as an alternative. The name of the previous incarnation of his coalition, Barisan Alternatif, is actually a more honest description of what it now stands for.
Pakatan Rakyat needs to pursue this strategy for two reasons. Firstly, it taps into the desire for change for the sake of change, which is an especially powerful motivation for young first-time voters looking at a Government that has been in power for over five decades. ,casting your precious vote on this basis is a monumental mistake.
Secondly, directing voter attention towards BN stops those same voters focussing on his own coalition with all its contradictions, foibles and howling mistakes that make it unfit for government.
But the nation's 13.34 million registered voters must not turn their gaze from Pakatan Rakyat. We owe it to ourselves to look back and make a mental list of what Pakatan has said and done in recent years and all the subsequent backtracking and excuses.
At this point the word that usually springs to mind is PAS. But what of the party that places itself above the mishaps and mess-ups that plague the others? Yes, DAP, once multi-racial but now very Chinese at the expense of its Indian support base, has had more than its fair share of howlers too.
Most recently it was the Central Executive Committee election fiasco. It would have been bad enough if it had just been a case of messing up an internal election count. But this episode also blew the lid off the party's sham efforts to make itself appear more Malay. It was as revealing as it was embarrassing.
And what of DAP's insistence that Christians can use the word "Allah" in their Malay Bible? That incident alone had PAS members calling for their party to leave the coalition, and could yet prove devastating at the ballot box.
PKR's grim chronicle of follies begin with the party's damaging civil war in Selangor; includes charges against Anwar and Azmin Ali for allegedly inciting violence at Bersih 3.0 – something which lost Pakatan a lot of friends amongst older Chinese voters who abhor instability; and leads us to Rafizi Ramli's blundered calculations on scrapping PTPTN that will land us with a RM23 billion price tag.
And all this before we even mention Anwar's family. This dynasty is the raison d'être for PKR, yet torchbearer Wan Azizah is now no more than a marginal figure, Nurul Izzah has offended Muslims from both sides of politics with her claims Malaysian Muslims are free to choose their faith and, for good measure, she has accused the police of being "Umno spies" just as they were counting their dead from the Sulu incursion.
Anwar's key method of avoiding gaffes is not to say anything definitive, hence is hand wringing on issues such as hudud. But remember this former finance minister once said the ETP "will send an additional 1.7 million Malaysians into poverty by 2020." Instead the success of the ETP is proving a huge plus for Najib as he makes his case to the people.
In just the past few weeks Anwar has flip-flopped on major manifesto pledges, including Lynas and RAPID and has failed to quell the "Hadi for PM" push.
Which brings us finally to PAS. One must be careful in listing its headline-making pronouncements as gaffes because so many of them are actually deliberate.
The push for hudud in defiance of Pakatan solidarity? They mean it. Praying for the downfall of Umno at risk of offending their own Ulama? They meant it. Campaigning for Hadi as PM despite an earlier pledge to support Anwar? They definitely mean that.
We could go on and on since we have barely mentioned the grim record of the Pakatan parties at state level. But for now, there are some important conclusions we can draw from this roll call of howlers. Firstly, some of these gaffes are due to foolishness on the part of the persons opening their mouths, but most are due to the every-man-for-himself attitude that pervades Pakatan Rakyat. There is no discipline because there is no common purpose (except opposing BN).
Secondly, so many of these follies occur because the perpetrators care not one bit for the consequences – including losing GE13.
And finally, it must be remembered that being in Opposition allows you to make mistakes that have little consequences. However, imagine what would happen if even half of these gaffes occurred with Pakatan in power?
Malaysia would pay a heavy price.

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