Teluk Intan an omen for fractured Pakatan, observers warn

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Shazwan Mustafa Kamal, Malay Mail Online

Unresolved issues within Pakatan Rakyat (PR) such as PAS’s renewed hudud bid and the mounting discontent in Selangor could leave the pact with just Penang and handful of federal seats in urban areas in the next general election, according to political observers.

PR leaders told The Malay Mail Online that DAP’s performance in Teluk Intan — going from a 7,313-majority win in 2013 to a 238-vote loss — is an indication of potential losses in the future if PAS, DAP, and PKR do not settle its conflicts and maintain its common policy framework.

Issues such as growing public anger towards Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim’s handling of the Kinrara Damansara Expressway (Kidex), the seizure of Malay- and Iban-language bibles by the Selangor Islamic Department (Jais) and allegations of voter manipulation and result delays in PKR’s on-going party elections are but a few examples of issues facing the PR state government.

Another pressing concern is PAS’s unilateral push for hudud to be implemented in Kelantan, which critics have pointed out went against PR’s Election 2013 manifesto.

“If this goes on, we might see a repeat of what happened to PAS in Kedah in 2013 and Barisan Nasional (BN) in Selangor before 2008.

“If voters decided to punish Pakatan in Selangor for not listening and addressing their concerns, like in the Kidex and bible issue we could very well lose the state come GE14,” former political analyst and DAP election strategist Dr Ong Kian Ming told The Malay Mail Online when contacted.

He said PAS’s insistence on its hudud bid was costing the opposition pact support among non-Malay voters whom he said feel let down by the Islamist party’s departure from its previous “PAS for all” agenda during GE13.

“Because PAS has pushed hudud, which is not part of PR’s common manifesto, voters feel betrayed because it goes against our election promise — no hudud,” Ong added.

Adding to that concern, Ong said was PKR’s leadership crisis and internal strife in its party election.

“The fact that the elections have dragged on longer than it should is distracting the party from addressing its problems with the Selangor administration.

“The other worry is that PKR’s election problems may affect Pakatan’s agenda for free and fair elections…. how do we promote that when there are serious concerns as to the transparency of elections on a party level,” he said.

PKR’s internal polls have been mired by allegations of corruption and impropriety, forcing the party to conduct fresh balloting for 35 branches and indefinitely postpone the results.

Selangor DAP deputy chairman Gobind Singh Deo agreed with his party colleague, stressing that PR had a “moral obligation” to uphold all of its Election 2013 promises.

A vocal opponent of Kidex, Gobind said that MB Khalid’s support for the highway as well as PAS’s hudud push contravened the opposition pact’s common agenda.

Kidex is a proposed 14.9km highway that will cut through densely-populated parts of Petaling Jaya that is meeting with increasing resistance from residents.

“Promises made during elections must be kept, there is no other way around this.

“In the case of hudud, Malaysia is and must always remain a secular state,” he told The Malay Mail Online when contacted.

In 1993, the PAS state government passed the Kelantan Shariah Criminal Code Enactment (II), allowing it to impose the strict Islamic penal code in the state. But the laws have not been implemented.

PAS is now looking for parliamentary approval to implement hudud. It plans to put forward two private members’ bills in Parliament.

“What will happen if these things go unaddressed is that people will be reluctant to come out to vote.

“Because if they support DAP and PKR, it means they support PAS as well,” the Puchong MP added.

Independent political analyst Khoo Kay Peng said that PR’s inability to honour its common policy agenda showed that the three-party pact was still a “loose coalition” and that not all of its leaders were on the same page.

This, he said would do little to inspire voters to come out and support PR in the next general election in the numbers that gave the pact the popular vote victory in Election 2013.

“What you are going to see is a trend of voters who may be Pakatan supporters but who will not want to go back to their home states to vote,” he told The Malay Mail Online when contacted.

Low voter turnout was cited as among the factors that saw DAP lose in Teluk Intan.

Khoo added that the issues in Selangor and the hudud push in Kelantan will also affect how voters viewed PR as a whole.

“When you oversell on reform, you have to back it up.

“What is happening in Selangor and Kelantan is not a good example of good governance,” Khoo said.

In Election 2013, PR won 89 of the 222 federal seats, building on the 82 it took five years before and again denied BN its customary supermajority in Parliament.