Silver lining in Lim-Anwar spat

There was a time during the early existence of the Barisan Alternatif (BA) when any public disagreement between the leaders of DAP, PAS or Keadilan would be interpreted as a sign of the ‘wobbly’ nature of the nascent opposition coalition.

The fact that DAP did finally pull out of BA after the September 11 attacks in the United States and just before the 2001 Sarawak state elections because of irreconcilable differences with PAS over the Islamic state issue only confirmed the precarious state of the opposition coalition.

Hence, it is not surprising that similar fears of a Pakatan Rakyat implosion have been sparked by the very public disagreement between Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and PKR leader Anwar Ibrahim over the issue of the state’s Malay deputy chief minister.

But such fears are grossly overblown. The Pakatan coalition is on much firmer ground than the BA. In fact, the public spat between these two Pakatan leaders may actually be a good thing for the opposition coalition. It shows that Pakatan is attempting to find a ‘formula’ of inter-coalition cooperation that is different from the formula currently practiced by BN.

There are probably some within Pakatan and within the ranks of their supporters who would have preferred the spat between Lim and Anwar to have taken place in private instead of being played out in the media.

But by making the decision to go ‘public’ with his dissatisfaction of being kept out of the loop by Anwar in regard to the situation with former DCM1 Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin, and with his possible replacement, Guan Eng has shown that unlike his predecessor in Penang, he is not afraid to ‘flex his muscles’ vis-à-vis the de facto leader of Pakatan.

And Anwar, by apologising for having kept Guan Eng in the dark, has shown that he is using a different leadership approach compared to his Umno counterpart.

Guan Eng clearly did not usurp Anwar’s authority when he stated that the DCM1 position was, and still is, very much Anwar’s decision, and Anwar will demonstrate this authority by nominating the person who stands in the Penanti seat to be the next DCM1 in Penang. Hence, both sides can chalk up a ‘win’ in their respective scoring columns.