PKR biggest loser in the event of a Pakatan breakup

Pakatan Breakup

It was DAP who first broke ranks on a Pakatan ‘consensus’ with regards to the 2-1 decision on acceptance of Islamic hudud law and principles of an Islamic state, PAS was in support with PKR tacitly approving, DAP the only holdout.

Hazlan Zakaria, The Ant Daily

If federal opposition coalition Pakatan Rakyat is to tragically follow in the troubled footsteps of its predecessor Barisan Alternatif, a breakup of the tripartite alliance will see PKR losing more than fellow partners DAP and PAS.

This is because it has more to lose than DAP which had already gained the most from the political cooperation and PAS for whom Pakatan membership and its privileges has brought it neither here nor there.

While cracks in Pakatan is perhaps long in the making, with the Selangor MB crisis intensifying the hoopla, it was officially brought to light by DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang with his widely reported statement on Dec 8 of things being too quiet on the Pakatan front.

Lim revealed that there has been no meetings between the coalition partners for well nigh six months and whined that consensus and the Holy Grail of Pakatan relations, the mythical common policy framework is now no more.

In effect, Lim is saying that the six-year journey of the coalition may soon be at an end with the three-way relationship between PKR, DAP and PAS on the rocks, so to speak, pointing the finger at PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi as complicit.

Lim alleged that Hadi broke the ‘consensus’ duck, so to speak, with his refusal to acknowledge PKR’s initial choice of Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah as Selangor MB to replace the former PKR MB Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim whom an internal PKR coup toppled.

Though it is worth noting that the common policy framework has been dead in the water since former PKR veep and former federal minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim abandoned his stewardship of the initiative and jumped ship into the muddy waters of the blogosphere.

And it was DAP who first broke ranks on a Pakatan ‘consensus’ with regards to the 2-1 decision on acceptance of Islamic hudud law and principles of an Islamic state, PAS was in support with PKR tacitly approving, DAP the only holdout.

Pakatan sidestepped the minefield by pretending that it can agree to disagree over the matter, thus setting the stage for the hairline cracks in the pact to perhaps grow and simmer.

While Lim laments the possible demise of the pact, he was perhaps not as concerned with the possibility than he should, and indeed maybe with good reason.

For the biggest loser if this were to come true, will be PKR not DAP or even PAS for that matter.

Firstly PKR may stand to lose its right to name the next Selangor MB, as with 13 seats in hand, it commands neither the majority to whisper in the sultan’s ear nor the mandate from the rakyat to rule anything in Malaysia’s most industrialised state.

In the even of a Pakatan breakup, Azmin Ali, may be the last PKR Selangor MB.

Indeed it will be besieged in the state assembly by PAS which has 15 seats and by DAP’s 15 more, unless it can swallow its pride and work together with Umno’s 12 seats and form a coalition state government, or worse have to appeal to either of its former partners.

With egos at play, it is not sure how this will work out. But the state may then fall to DAP or PAS with some creative party-hopping or seat negotiations in play barring friendly PAS fellows crossing over to PKR or a PKR-Umno alliance.

And without Selangor, PKR will lose its valuable power base and traction of credibility and return to being the mosquito party that it was.

For if one were to analyse the matter, PKR has always been the least of Pakatan member parties in terms of strength despite playing the very crucial role of the glue that holds the pact together balancing out between confirmed rivals DAP and PAS.

To put it in perspective, if Pakatan is a concert, DAP would be the sound system and equipment manager, while PAS provides manpower, security and the crowd to fill the rafters while PKR brings the rowdy fawning fans and rock stars to the stage perhaps.

And it was because of this ‘rock star’ role it played that it was accorded status in the alliance and given perks it may not have deserved.

But core to PKR’s ability to play this role unfortunately is not its own strength but comes in the form of de facto leader Datuk Seri (still) Anwar Ibrahim.

With Anwar potentially facing a jail term, his absence may lead to PKR losing some traction, one that party president and his wife Wan Azizah Wan Ismail may not be able to totally replace.

And indeed part of the reason PKR was given Selangor by Pakatan was out of respect for that arrangement of its special position as buffer between DAP and PAS and for the influence that Anwar wields.

With no Anwar and no Pakatan, there will be no need for PAS and DAP to give PKR any face, in the event of a breakup that is.

True to form, with the most to lose PKR was the quickest to respond to Lim’s funeral dirge, Wan Azizah responding with her statement admitting that things could be better, but ensuring all that they are working to improve things at the lower levels at least.

This, even as she admitted that high level meetings were indeed few and far between as alleged by Lim. As of press time PAS has yet to respond.

DAP however is somewhat safe in their newly acquired stronghold of Penang, having risen from an activist based small scale mosquito opposition party to the next big hope for the Chinese in Malaysia.

With 19 seats in the Penang State Assembly, it will still hold majority to BN’s 10 PKR’s 10 and PAS’ 1. That is unless PKR were to work hand in hand with Umno to take over and use their 10 and 10 to make a 20-seat majority.

But Penang or no Penang, whatever they say about being multiracial based, the Chinese having executed a volte face for the BN and specifically MCA is the mainstay of DAP and their vote bank per se.

Any Malay and Indian support is marginal at best, though maybe rising on the indigenous front.

Indeed, DAP has expanded not only its support but also power base and seems poised to rake in more dividends from its investments in Pakatan.

It is perhaps the only Pakatan party to make real headway into Sabah and Sarawak and has made great strides in Melaka, Negeri Sembilan and Johor other than in Penang, especially in urban Chinese majority areas.

Without Pakatan, DAP can still stand alone as the bastion of Chinese hope in Malaysia.

Indeed perhaps knowing that a breakup may be imminent, DAP has played the long game by slowly working to shore up support in Sabah and Sarawak interiors with its Impian Sarawak and Sabah outreach programmes.

This may add some small measure rural support to its urban gains.

Similarly. it is already working to entice the more liberal urban Malays with their select recruitment of Malay socialites and social stand outs who are easy on the eyes and present a more friendly image of DAP to Malays and Islam.

It is ironic that this is happening in conjunction with the political capital among non-Muslims it is racking in by taking potshots at PAS every time it can.

For PAS, while their stay in Pakatan has been beneficial in advancing their non-Muslim support generating “PAS For All” agenda, it has not really see any measurable rise in support for the Islamist party.

In Pakatan, they have mainly thrived in their traditional Malay majority constituencies though made some gains in non-Malay support.

If nothing else, being a part of Pakatan may have at times hamstrung the party because of the the persistent bickering with DAP and having to shoulder the burden of the many lapses of PKR.

True PAS itself has also brought no small measure of problems to the opposition pact with its continuing struggle between the traditionalists ulama and the more liberal activist and progressive types.

But in some ways, many of these problems arise from situations exacerbated by them being in Pakatan and interacting with PKR and DAP like during the Selangor MB crisis.

And the non-Muslim engagement was a process which the party already had going on prior to joining and which helped it gain more widespread support in the 2008 political tsunami. Being in Pakatan amplified it but certainly did not start it.

PAS will lose some perks from being a Pakatan partner but they will not lose much and can continue to soldier on as before.

Though PAS is probably the most secure party with a comfortable majority in Kelantan that neither BN, DAP nor PKR can pretty much touch, breakup or no breakup.

But in any case all of them will lose out at a real chance for a shot at Putrajaya, but better they dissolve now than quarrel and bicker if they do achieve that lofty goal of taking over from BN as the government of the day.

Not only too many cooks but an unprepared sous chef can spoil the broth too, and in their current state perhaps Pakatan does not yet have the temper to test their mettle at running the country.

And until the thorny issue of hudud and Islamic state is put to rest truly, there can be no real cooperation between DAP and PAS, for whom their separate beliefs over the matter has become more dogma than political strategy.

Similarly, until PKR can come out of its Anwar-funk, it cannot truly be a party that can rise to the occasion on its own merit.

At times as they say, you must break the eggs to make an omelet and maybe a broken Pakatan now may herald some soul searching, navel gazing and a reinvention of their once common dream beyond the shared enmity towards BN and Umno.

In the end, it would be sad if the breakup do come for what was once a promising start for a credible opposition may yet live up to its unfortunately timed date of formation on April 1, which is April Fool’s Day.

What an April Fool’s joke to play on us Malaysians eh, or perhaps the herald of a new and better future beginning?