Fairus saga exposes Pakatan frailties

By Lee Wei Lian and Neville Spykerman (The Malaysian Insider)

KUALA LUMPUR, April 18 — The complications arising from the troubles of former Penang Deputy Chief Minister 1 Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin have left bruised feelings in both PKR and DAP and exposed the need for Pakatan Rakyat to strengthen its inter-party cohesiveness.

The drawn-out process of determining the new DCM1, a post which has been reserved for a Malay candidate from PKR, has caused Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng from DAP to feel pressure from being perceived as indecisive.

DAP sources said the recent episode has tarnished Lim's otherwise good record while others admitted that he could have handled the matter better.

“He is after all the chief minister and the decision on the Fairus replacement should have been resolved with Anwar behind closed doors,” said an insider.

Meanwhile, some PKR leaders feel unhappy over some of Lim's remarks that were reported in the media, which made it appear as if the DAP secretary-general was highlighting the fact that PKR had internal issues and that he was setting deadlines for de facto PKR leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

The Malaysian Insider also understands that by favoring Abdul Malik Abul Kassim, who is an Indian Muslim, PKR felt that Lim was putting unwanted pressure on it to go against political considerations of having to nominate a strong ethnic Malay candidate.

But there is also some frustration within DAP over the uncertainty surrounding the naming of the new deputy and some feel that Anwar has a tendency to keep his cards too close to his chest.

Things came to a head yesterday when Fairus also resigned as state representative of Penanti and Lim was not informed by PKR of the development and only found out when contacted by the media.

The Malaysian Insider understands that the chief minister was not happy as he feels that, as chief minister, he should be kept abreast of happenings in the state.

He issued a curt statement, telling the media to refer to Anwar for any questions regarding Fairus' resignation.

Taken together, this highlights the crucial need for the fledging coalition to forge a common understanding on how to tackle inter-party issues.

While, as sources point out, the hurt feelings on both sides are not a major stumbling block to the coalition, if nothing is done to strengthen inter-party cohesiveness, it could well be the next time.