Third Force can stop Pakatan from winning big, says Syed Husin

By Boo Su-Lyn, The Malaysian Insider

PETALING JAYA, Nov 26 — Senator Dr Syed Husin Ali warned PKR today not to dismiss a group of independents dubbed the “Third Force” as they could prevent Pakatan Rakyat (PR) from achieving a huge victory in the next general election.

“If it (the Third Force) is formed, this group will breathe life to Umno and Barisan Nasional (BN),” said Syed Husin in his opening speech at the seventh PKR Wanita and Youth congress today.

“It will complicate Pakatan’s efforts in achieving a huge victory,” he added.

PKR officials have come out strong against the Third Force as it can split the vote in multi-cornered fights that will benefit the ruling BN federal government.

Straight fights between BN and PR in Election 2008 helped the opposition pact to an unprecedented 82 federal seats and four states then.

The Third Force’s initiative could result in multi-cornered fights in up to 30 of the 222 parliamentary seats that are being held or will be contested by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s PKR.

In Election 2008, more than 90 per cent of the federal seats saw a straight fight between PR parties and BN.

Today, Syed Husin said the Third Force needed to be handled with care.

“This matter (the Third Force) must be handled wisely,” said the PKR deputy president.

Recently, Third Force co-ordinator Haris Ibrahim said his objective was to offer strong candidates to PR who would not switch allegiance in case PR forms the next federal government.

Haris had said that his group aimed to prevent a repeat of the Perak constitutional crisis last year that saw the fall of the PR state government after three of its assemblymen became BN-friendly lawmakers.

PR has also lost five MPs since March 2008. Four of them — Datuk Seri Zahrain Hashim (Bayan Baru), Tan Tee Beng (Nibong Tebal), Mohsin Fadzli Samsuri (Bagan Serai) and Wee Choo Keong (Wangsa Maju) — quit, citing a loss of confidence in Anwar’s leadership. Zulkifli Noordin (Kulim-Bandar Baru) was sacked following disagreement with the PRK leadership over the “Allah” row.

At a press conference later, however, Syed Husin said the Third Force did not pose a threat to PR currently.

“As of now, no,” he told reporters.

“It’s neither a ‘third’ nor a ‘force’. They use it to get people who are dissatisfied with the (PR) parties,” he added.

Haris, who has been working with civil society groups for the initiative, had stressed that the pool of candidates would first be offered to the federal opposition.

The lawyer and active blogger said the candidates would only contest as independents if PR parties could not offer better candidates.