Pakatan art of making heroes fall to zeros

It is quite comical now to reflect on PKR’s Tian Chua, Elizabeth Wong and Saifuddin Nasution (then a Pas MP and now PKR secretary-general) leading several party leaders to Taiwan to ensure the “capture” of BN parliamentary representatives.

SHAMSUL AKMAR, New Straits Times

McCARTHYISM, chauvinism, dictatorial, communist-minded, little Pharaohs are some of the unsavoury labels levelled at the DAP-led Pakatan Rakyat state government in Penang as well as Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.

Name-calling or labelling is common in politics for various reasons but generally associated with extreme emotions be they anger, frustration or even jealousy.

Sometimes when politicians resort to this, it is mostly from their ineptitude and inability to present well-reasoned arguments to undermine their opponents.

As such, name-calling may be brushed aside as outburst which, in time, is swept by the ebb and flow of the political landscape.

However, in this instance, it is different. For one, the outburst stems not from DAP’s or Guan Eng’s opponents but their allies.

These are not opponents from Barisan Nasional or individuals and institutions associated with the ruling coalition. The allies are those from Pakatan Rakyat.

With these damning labels levelled at the DAP and Guan Eng by Parti Keadilan Rakyat’s elected representatives, one can say their allies have turned against them.

To minimise the impact, DAP and Guan Eng can downplay it by pointing out that the outbursts were from some disgruntled or frustrated members and do not reflect the sentiments in PKR.

Turning the tables on detractors, they have labelled the “friendly enemies” as Umno or BN stooges who, from the start, had their heart on the other side, or the dark side, the term preferred by Pakatan supporters of anyone who does not share their political views.

To add salt to the wound, cast doubt on the detractors’ character and make sure to expose their wealth as disreputable and put a price to their names.

Then, wind up the episode with accusations backed by no substance and trot out the favourite bogeyman — the “unseen hands” behind the crisis.

Having done that, the crisis or clash between PKR and DAP is dismissed as growing pains, the outbursts as coming from disgruntled individuals who have been stirred by dark forces and fuelled by the optimism that Pakatan is on track to take over Putrajaya at the next general election.

At the same time, issue a gag order on the elected representatives who had exercised their freedom of expression or for doing it in a manner deemed against the accepted Pakatan way.

Make their life in PR untenable and if they decide to leave, it will then be deemed as good riddance to bad rubbish for BN to collect.

The plot is almost perfect in which the blame will always lie on BN and all their opponents; whatever goes wrong is never their fault but everyone else’s.

But the strategy is going stale, having been executed once too often.


For example, when PKR adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim announced that he would take over the Federal Government from BN on Sept 16, 2008, its supporters and allies gleefully strutted around claiming Putrajaya as theirs.

Though there was some dissent internally, especially those who felt that gaining power through crossovers was immoral, the dissenting voices were drowned by the cheerleaders.

It is quite comical now to reflect on PKR’s Tian Chua, Elizabeth Wong and Saifuddin Nasution (then a Pas MP and now PKR secretary-general) leading several party leaders to Taiwan to ensure the “capture” of BN parliamentary representatives.

It was equally comical to see the BN representatives being sent to Taiwan to avoid Pakatan’s “trap”.

The point is had the Barisan MPs crossed over, they would have been hailed as heroes, courageous politicians, leaders of the people and showered with other accolades.

This is not an exaggeration. Take BN’s assemblyman for Bota, Nasaruddin Hashim’s decision to cross over to PKR on Jan 25 last year. Then Pakatan Perak menteri besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Nizar Jamaluddin described Nasaruddin as “beriman, berilmu dan berpengalaman” (religious, knowledgeable and experienced).

At the press conference to announce Nasaruddin’s defection, Anwar was caught on camera looking smug. He described the event as a paradigm shift and a new beginning for Pakatan. The crossover, was by and large, celebrated by Pakatan supporters and if there was any dissent, it was muted.

Of course, BN and Umno protested vociferously against Nasaruddin, questioning his ethics and accusing him of cheating voters.

Ten days later, Nasaruddin returned to Umno’s fold and not only that, three other Pakatan state assembly representatives quit their parties, becoming independents “friendly” to BN, ensuring the fall of the Pakatan state government.

The protests and condemnations from Pakatan, if documented, could have filled libraries and are ongoing. The condemnations centre on the crossovers as going against the wishes of the people and hence questioning the legitimacy of the state government.

By then, and now, the planned Sept 16, 2008 take-over of the Federal Government had fallen by the wayside.

But to point this out, too, risks being labelled — as Umno apologists, hacks, running dogs or other convenient tags to discredit the naysayers.

So PKR (Wangsa Maju) member of parliament Wee Choo Keong, PKR (Bayan Baru) MP Datuk Seri Zahrain Mohamed Hashim, PKR (Nibong Tebal) MP Tan Tee Beng and PKR (Kulim Bandar Baru) MP Zulkifli Noordin look set to fall from grace from heroes to zeros. They would surely be prepared to be gotten rid off as bad rubbish.

But they are not cowed. They are speaking out because of the stench emanating from the rubbish in Pakatan. So who’s the rubbish?

A rubbish lorry is one clue.