Pakatan needs to get real

The Tenang by-election result clearly showed, once again, that in all the idiocy and immaturity of Malaysian politics after 53-plus years, racialism is its soul, and all Malaysian political parties inevitably will make communalism its perennial political concubine.

Manjit Bhatia, Malaysiakini

Post-Tenang, the Pakatan Rakyat opposition, led by the DAP, has begun picking on a carcass of its own making. These are slim pickings; there’s barely any residual flesh after the Tenang

Even DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang cannot say, in all truthfulness, that he has a bone to pick with the MCA. Whether the MCA recovered, or lost, more of the Tenang Chinese votes seems utterly irrelevant.

Likewise PAS, which, clearly, failed to engender itself with the Malays in that constituency. The bigger picture cannot be missed. If Pakatan chooses to lose sight of this, it’ll do so at its own peril.

But Pakatan seems hell-bent on further embarrassment.

Lim wasted no time in trying to score political points from the MCA. He tried jawboning MCA president Dr Chua Soi Lek over whether Tenang’s Chinese voted for MCA for its anti-Islamic state rhetoric or for Pakatan for its justice rhetoric.

And on Tuesday, PKR assemblyperson for Seri Setia, Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, said members who did not share Pakatan’s multiracialism weren’t fit to be part of the opposition party.

On the same day, PKR said it would hit the road to sell itself to a voting public – one that has become sceptical of the party’s promises, let alone its ignominy after years of bruising internal strife and defections.

Crikey. You’d think PKR would just stop and think long and hard before stumbling into the next pit like a bleeding, blind drunk.

I wrote about a year ago that all Umno-BN has to do is sit back a little and watch Pakatan self-combust and implode. That’s just what has happened. And the fire’s not out yet.

I said a while ago that the problem for Pakatan is its predilection for MAD – mutually assured destruction. It seems, by the latest incantation from the Pakatan leadership, it hasn’t learnt a single lesson: People want policies and action, not more racialist jousting or communalist posturing.

But if you give them the latter, Pakatan just won’t win against Umno-BN’s election machinery and money, come hell or high water.

The high water came. Hell, too.

I wrote last week that the problem with Umno-BN is the same as with Pakatan: it has mediocre politicians who are on a power trip.

They are so egotistical, so self-righteous, that they have forgotten those on whom they really count for their power – the people.

Umno-BN has been on the nose for a long time, but Pakatan just does not have the slightest clue as how to exploit that odious odour to its advantage. Instead, it screwed it up left, right and centre.

Party politics may serve Pakatan’s immediate vested interests. But these are hopeless if people can’t see what the coalition really stands for, and what it will do by way of action-effective programmes that are clear expressions of the party’s unambiguous policies.

Consider US President Barack Obama’s last State of the Union address. Blind Freddy saw through Obama to know he has sold out to America’s large business groups, including, or especially, Wall Street, because he fears becoming a one-term wonder. And he could still wind up becoming a one-term wonder.

I don’t see Pakatan’s policies. I never have, since its inception. Not a single one, and not on a monkey’s hair breadth.

If Pakatan wants to be a serious player in Malaysian national politics, it must come to terms that it is intellectually bankrupt of policy ideas, especially where and when they count, such as the Tenang by-election.

Instead, Pakatan thinks that it is clever enough to woo voters simply through communalism. In the end, even this backfired for it in Tenang.

Who cares about the floods? By what percentage of votes would that have changed the overall outcome, anyway? Seriously. Why look for stupid, childish excuses?

And who cares what the ethnic voting trends were. They were what they were, and, by and large they were expected. Some things in Malaysia never change.

Did not DAP’s Lim say weeks before the by-election that paring back some of Umno-BN’s 2,400-plus vote majority, but not winning the seat, would, in itself, be a moral victory?

What humbug. Where’s the moral victory now? Face facts: Pakatan was trounced in Tenang. No question. And it only has itself to blame.

You can use Marx and Engels or Marshall Berman’s dictum here (although Berman borrowed this from Marx and Engels, anyway) that all that is solid melts into air. When you look at the 2008 federal election result in today’s context, you would have to ask if Mark and Engels were right from the start.

Lim had given up on Tenang even before the first vote was cast. That was Lim’s big cop-out – and a folly so big it was painfully laughable.

For all his intelligence and experience, what he and Pakatan continue to seriously lack is a set of strategic minds, analytical minds: people who are good at coming up with very well researched, credible, intelligent and powerful electioneering strategies and policy-making and deliverance.

What Pakatan, like Umno-BN, is good at is fobbing off its real problems, crimping itself by taking on airs, as it were, with a build-up of mediocre talent within its senior ranks.

I have no idea what Anwar Ibrahim is doing or what he truly stands for anymore. What are you doing, Anwar? What do you really stand for?

Rather than sitting down and doing some serious soul-searching on just where it went wrong in Tenang, and why, and then locating all the problems on a national canvas and making strategic reparations to almost all of its political facets, internal and external, Lim, like a dog with a bone, tried to immediately score worthless points by picking a fight with a scandal-riven, incompetent and pinhead MCA leadership.

It seems to me that PKR, DAP and PAS are like ships in the night on a vast ocean.

Lim may as well have put up a ragged dummy befitting Chua in his garage and thumped the hell out of it, or, better still, pin prick a Chua voodoo doll for all that’s worth.

Perhaps what the humiliating Tenang loss suggests is that it may be time for Lim to pack up politics altogether and take with him so many of the has-been in the DAP and PKR.

At the current rate, Pakatan won’t come within a sniff of denting Umno-BN’s chances of regaining its two-thirds majority or improving it at the next general election. If Umno-BN wins by two-thirds or more, it could become the killer blow for Pakatan.

Therein lies the problem for the Pakatan leadership. Not what’s up, but time’s up.

Prime Minister Najib Razak could call a poll in six to nine months and catch PKR on the hop. Easy to do, given PKR’s serious internal and external strife. But that call will be dictated by the shape of the economy. It’s too volatile.

Even if Najib were to call a federal poll in 2012, PKR would still not be ready.

The Tenang by-election result clearly showed, once again, that in all the idiocy and immaturity of Malaysian politics after 53-plus years, racialism is its soul, and all Malaysian political parties inevitably will make communalism its perennial political concubine.

Look at the Indian vote in Tenang, which went to BN. What does that say? Other than saying Indian voters are typically pathetic and batty, it’s more the case of better the devil they know than not. Pakatan offered them nothing, so the Indians chose Umno-BN’s satanic lordship as their saviour. Go figure.

I doubt Pakatan can see its real problems. Or wants to. Maybe it has become very good at self-denial, that it can gloss over its problems, paper over whatever cracks that appear in its façade. Assuming that that is all there is, though I doubt it.

Pakatan lacks foresight. It lacks depth. It lacks scope. All these at almost every level and on all fronts. Nor the organic intelligence to not only capture vital middle class votes but to also cut through the chaff of rigid, embedded communalistic politics at the lower levels of the Malaysian social hierarchy.