All sound and fury but no substance

The Pakatan convention made all the right noises but it appears that the alliance is not yet prepared for the coming general election.

(Free Malaysia Today) – The third Pakatan Rakyat convention which ended yesterday saw a resurgent Anwar Ibrahim envisioning a “Malaysian Spring” sweeping through the country, where the politics of conscience, and not self-preservation, will be the order of the day.

Speaking at the Sultan Abdul Halim Stadium here, he said that Malaysian leaders must follow their conscience and do what is right and not for personal glory.

“I envisioned a Malaysian Spring dawning,” Anwar said in a veiled reference to last year’s Arab Spring movement which saw a few long-serving Middle East regimes falling by the wayside in the face of widespread anger of ordinary Arab citizens.

A “Malaysian Spring” has been his most often used line since his acquittal of a sodomy charge last Monday.

Earlier, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, in a typically fiery speech to the delegates, called for the removal of the corrupt Barisan Nasional (BN) government.

His father, DAP doyen Lim Kit Siang also spoke about a Malaysian Spring, saying the time has come to finally dethrone the ruling Barisan Nasional after decades of abuse of power.

PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang and spiritual adviser Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat spoke about how Islam can bring about justice and prosperity in Malaysia.

A frail-looking Nik Aziz said tongue in cheek about Umno’s overtures to form a Malay unity government with PAS: “I know who you (Umno) are.”

Same ‘old record’

These are the few words of English that the cleric uttered in public, although those in his inner circle claimed he is quite proficient in the language, as he does read English newspapers in the private comforts of his office and home.

Then there were the second-echelon Pakatan Rakyat leaders, namely Kuala Selangor MP Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, PKR deputy president Azmin Ali, DAP Youth head Anthony Loke, Kelantan executive councillor Husam Musa who spoke about what Pakatan would do when in power.

Dzulkefly tocuhed on the practicality and usefulness of the “Orange Book,” which spells out Pakatan’s pledges for the next general election.

About 50,000 people thronged the stadium to hear sound and fury from the speakers. But for some it was like listening to the same “old record”.

However, PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution Ismail saw the gathering as a chance to woo fence-sitters in preparation for the next national polls.

For some observers and delegates, this one-day convention turned out to be a non-starter, simply because there was nothing of substance to indicate that the Pakatan alliance is ready.

Some delegates expressed the hope that the convention would be the rallying point for Pakatan to galvanise its troops for the “mother of all general elections”.

But they were quite disappointed when they heard the speakers spout only stale topics.

Most of the delegates were seen just going through the paces, with some preferring to walk around and pose for photographs rather than listen to the speeches.