Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The By-Election Test that Pakatan Rakyat is Failing

Pakatan Rakyat has had an easy ride since GE13. Aside from the question as to whether to support Anwar's laboured quest to overturn the result – which was not backed by the leadership of the other Pakatan parties – there have been few issues to test the unity of this coalition.

But now a by-election over a single state constituency in Terengganu is set to remind us the PKR-DAP-PAS axis remains an unworkable fudge. It couldn't win the war and it might well struggle to survive the peace with all three parties in place.

Anwar's one-time golden boy and PKR deputy president Azmin Ali has publicly endorsed the idea of PKR fielding the Pakatan candidate in the seat – an idea which came as a surprise to PAS which thinks it owns the seat and fielded the unsuccessful candidate at GE13. The seat was retained by Dr A Rahman Mokhtar who has since passed away, triggering the by-election which is set to cause so much trouble for the Opposition.

But seeing a turf war on the horizon PKR election director Haniza Mohd Talha has Monday tried to smooth over the impending rift by portraying it not as a PKR versus PAS issue, but a battle of the sexes issue.

She said she is in favour of a female candidate to contest the seat because "candidate selection is critical to Pakatan Rakyat's hope of wresting the seat from Barisan Nasional". She didn't name that candidate, but since she is from PKR and PAS isn't big on women in power, the conclusion is obvious. This is despite her steadfast denial that PKR is out to pilfer PAS' seat.

But no sooner had she uttered her soothing words than Terengganu PAS State commissioner Abdul Wahid Endut put his foot down on behalf of the Islamist party – not in response to the candidate issue, but the DAP's leftfield suggestion that Pakatan Rakyat should boycott the entire contest. Pakatan Rakyat truly is the coalition where everyone says what they want, when they want.

"There is no issue on boycotting it, as we do not want to give Barisan Nasional (BN) an easy task in winning back the seat, this is our chance," he said in response to the comments by Lim Guan Eng.

This is more than a symbolic battle. As The Choice reported Monday, a Pakatan win could "theoretically tip the state's narrow balance of power into a hung assembly."

But it is also important as a reminder that Pakatan Rakyat hasn't changed since GE13. It is still the same every-party-for-itself rabble that it was before the election. And still Anwar fails to impose any authority on the three parties he allegedly presides over, instead using the past seven weeks to criss-cross the nation bleating about the GE13 while the first post-election test of unity rears its head.

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