Scenario not too optimistic for Pakatan Rakyat

The throes of the PKR party elections are but just beginning. Nevertheless, there should not be any further delay in arresting the problems, or it will lead to the loss of public confidence in the Pakatan Rakyat.

By LIM SUE GOAN, Sin Chew Daily
Translated by Adeline Lee

Selangor is the state where the war between the Barisan Nasional (BN) and the Pakatan Rakyat is the most intense. While the issues of the state water supply and the ban on the use of the 1Malaysia logo on advertisements billboards are still not resolved, the two coalitions are now locking horns over the appointment of the new State Secretary.

The Pakatan Rakyat-controlled Selangor state government objects to the appointment of Selangor Islamic Religious Department (JAIS) director Datuk Mohd Khusrin Munawi as the new State Secretary as he is regarded as pro-Umno. Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid will meet the Selangor Sultan to present propose candidate folr the job.

Whether it will become like the issues of the two Perak menteri besar or the two Perak state assembly speakers, and develop into a court battle, remains to be seen. But it is believed that it is likely to be a drawn-out battle.

In view of the impending general election, Umno has replaced of three of its state liaison committee chairmen. But the leadership of Selangor Umno still remains under Prime Minister Datuk Sri Najib. This shows that Umno considers Selangor to be its front-line state, and wants to regain this richest state of the nation at all costs.

With ex-Menteri Besar and former party strongman Datul Seri Dr Khir Toyo facing a corruption charge and Agriculture Miknister Datuk Noh Omar being a weak and unpopular leader, there is no other suitable candidate for the Selangor Umno chairmanship, than Najib himself.

In the restructuring of the various Umno state liaison committees, Najib again shows his cautious style, as he made no major change in most states, except Kelantan. This indicates that he does not wish to stir up factional problems. The fact that Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah was not selected again is not surprising, as after all, his performance in the Galas by-election was not really significant.

In Penang and Kedah, the former state deputy chairmen take over the top post. In Terengganu, Menteri Besar Datuk Ahmad Said finally gets to become the state head.

Meanwhile, Tun Dr Mahathir’s son Datuk Mukhriz assumes the position of deputy chairman of the Kedah Umno. It is hoped that he can exert his influence to help woo back the Malay voters lost in the 2008 general election.

Former Negeri Sembilan Menteri Besar Tan Sri Mohd Isa was the chairman of the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda). It was a real big reward for a veteran leader who had given Umno a big boost by winning the Bagan Pinang state seat in the October 2009 by-election. The BN had lost in all the previous by-elections and was becoming jittery when Isa managed to achieve victory and helped give the BN and Umno a big boost.

Isa’s appointment will certainly help the Negeri Sembilan Umno in its preparations for the next general election. After the Bagan Pinang by-election victory, there had been rumours that Isa would return to the mainstream party politics, and might even be reappointed as the Menteri Besar. Now that Isa has been given a big job with almost federal minister ranking, the present Negeri Sembilan Menteri Besar Datuk Sri Mohammad Hasan can certainly heave a sigh of relief.

While Umno has completed its deployment of its leadership manpower, the Pakatan Rakyat is headed for another round of confusion and crisis. Padang Serai MP Gobalakrishnan, who was defeated in the recent PKR party elections, has been bombarding the party leadership, and showing signs of defection. Earlier in the year, several MPs, who quit the party to become BN-friendly independent MPs, have had acted the same way. It would seem that the declaration of Datuk Seri Zaid Ibrahim who took over the Malaysian People’s Well-being Party (AKIM) and became its chairman, that there would be PKR leaders and members who would follow him to quit the party, is not a joke after all.

The throes of the PKR party elections are but just beginning. Nevertheless, there should not be any further delay in arresting the problems, or it will lead to the loss of public confidence in the Pakatan Rakyat.

Since the 2008 general election and 13 by-elections until today, the Pakatan Rakyat seems to be losing its momentum and appears to be weakening. Can it withstand the BN onslaught of the state of Selangor? The scenario is not too optimistic.