Opposition house in disarray?

The loose coalition appears to be a bit under the weather lately

Nasharuddin, who along with Dr Hassan, is widely tipped to be dropped in the next election due to their stand, told Berita Minggu today in an interview that Pas had started to derail from its original struggle.

A. Jalil Hamid, New Straits Times

IT IS said that Islamic party Pas is having second thoughts about keeping maverick Pas leader Da-tuk Dr Hassan Ali  because  he is fighting for Islam. 

In Penang, the mainly Chinese DAP has been rocked by a widening feud between two non-Chinese leaders in the party.

Just as the floods are causing havoc in Kuala Lumpur and other parts of the country due to the monsoon, the opposition is a bit under the weather these days.

Pas and DAP, the two main parties in the tripartite Pakatan Rakyat, have seen their respective infightings coming out into the open to dominate the front pages in recent weeks.

With de facto Pakatan leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim battling his seemingly endless legal woes — the verdict for his Sodomy II trial is due on Jan 9 — the opposition alliance is slipping further into disarray despite the imminent general election.

Up to now, Anwar’s fledgling Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) has been the glue that binds the more established Pas and DAP.

But it seems more a marriage of convenience because of their contrasting party ideologies. Such unions may not last long.

PKR has experienced top-level resignations, the latest being Bukit Gelugor division chief Lim Boo Chang, who resigned from the party and hit out at the DAP-led Penang government.

In all, PKR has seen the resignations of six members of parliament, five state assemblymen, a deputy president, a vice-president, a secretary-general and several supreme council members.

DAP and Pas have also lately bickered over issues such as the imposition of hudud law, apostasy cases in Selangor, the beer-sale ban in Selangor and the future of the casino in Genting Highlands.

The parties, along with PKR, rule Selangor, Penang, Kedah and Kelantan and hold sizeable seats in Parliament after their unprecedented strong showing in the March 2008 election.

Critics say the opposition, which struggled to rule those states, began campaigning for the coming general election right after the last election by forcing or diverting the Barisan Nasional (BN) government from its responsibility of governing.

This, however, has not deterred the government from pushing ahead with its transformation agenda.

The latest opposition disarray could provide an impetus for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to hold the elections sooner than later.

No doubt he will call for elections when the time is right, after considering many factors.

There are possibly many things running through his mind when deciding on the date, but winning by a comfortable majority should be the overriding consideration.

BN, banking on its proven track record, will continue to work hard for the election, which Najib has described as one of the “toughest”. It will certainly not take things for granted.

There are certainly positive signs in BN’s favour. For instance, Pakatan is believed to have conceded that Pas, on its own, is unlikely to be able to maintain the Malay support it enjoyed in the 2008 election.

Observers say Pas would face an uphill task even defending its seats in the Malay heartland, including parliamentary seats in its power base of Kelantan, which it has ruled for a record 21 years.

Within Pas, the rife worsened after Dr Hassan, who is also exco member in the PKR-led Selangor government, fell out with the Pas leadership.

It has also seemed to have opened up a brewing discontent within the party over Dr Hassan’s strong commitment to Islam.

Dr Hassan, who has been viewed by some as a thorn both in Selangor Pas and Pakatan, has won the support of former Pas deputy president Nasharuddin Mat Isa, who has insisted that Pas should put Islam first.

Nasharuddin, who along with Dr Hassan, is widely tipped to be dropped in the next election due to their stand, told Berita Minggu today in an interview that Pas had started to derail from its original struggle.

“Pas should be more firm and consistent in stating its stand on many issues,” the former academic said.

“The perception from outside is that Pas appears to be less rigid. This is dangerous.”

In the case of DAP, it was a bitter row played out in the media between DAP chairman Karpal Singh and Penang deputy chief minister II P. Ramasamy.

A three-member panel to resolve the dispute has declared that the issue between Karpal and Ramasamy had been resolved and that the party leadership would move forward as a united team to face the elections.

Saying the issue was far from being resolved, Karpal on Thursday made it clear that the panel might have come to its own conclusions, but “it was definitely not the end of the matter”.

Looks like it’s a case of “it never rains but it pours” for the opposition this rainy season.