Political quake in Pakatan


DAP leaders only like to work with liberal-minded Malays who share the DAP way of thinking. The joke is that DAP only likes Malays who think and behave like the Chinese.

Joceline Tan, The Star

DATUK Seri Hadi Awang flew off to Japan on Thursday morning to speak on hudud law at a Japanese university.

The PAS president had given a lecture on the same subject at a university in Singapore shortly before the PAS muktamar.

In fact, his supporters had used that in the PAS election, telling everyone that Singapore had invited Hadi to speak on hudud whereas the Kota Baru PAS division, which was against Hadi, had invited DAP’s Lim Kit Siang to Kelantan to talk against hudud.

The PAS election is over but feelings are still running high and the rift in PAS shows little sign of mending.

Attempts by the winning camp to appoint some of those who lost in the PAS election to the party’s central committee have been rebuffed.

The appointment of key office-bearers had to be postponed because some of the losers had spurned the appointed posts.

Former deputy president Mohamad Sabu, who is also overseas, told people he is going to “take a break” and he wants to “give others a chance”.

Mat Sabu, as he is known, has yet to recover from his defeat. His ego has been bruised after obtaining only 24% of the vote against the new deputy president Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man. Tuan Ibrahim had also gone away for a break with his family in, of all places, Kundasang near the epicentre of the Sabah earthquake.

Pakatan Rakyat is going through a political earthquake of its own. The coalition has been shaken to the core by the ulama victory in the PAS election.

DAP is the most badly affected because DAP supporters equate the ulama dominance to the prospect of hudud law. It had initially tried to blame Umno for what was happening in PAS but this blame-Umno-for-everything game has to stop. It is beginning to look childish and silly.

The average Malaysian voter can see that DAP, despite winning the most seats in the general election, has been unable to control PAS.

They can also see that Pakatan is as good as broken or, as DAP organising secretary Anthony Loke put it, the situation between PAS and DAP is “beyond repair”.

The only reason why they are still together is because of Selangor. Power is a seductive thing and no one walks away from it just like that.

Loke said the survival of the Selangor government is a top priority for the party and it will be central to any decision made about the direction of the coalition. But he stressed that there will be no snap state election.

Pakatan leaders can see the voter fatigue and they know that the urban thinking class will punish them if there is a snap election. They will still win but with less seats and at great political cost.

Fortunately for Pakatan, the Barisan side is also not keen on a snap election because it has no chance of winning.

Pakatan leaders have also stopped talking about the “road to Putrajaya”. But none of them can bring themselves to admit that they are unlikely to beat Barisan Nasional in the next general election. The reason is not because Barisan is that great but because Pakatan is in worse shape.

Political power, sad to say, is not always about who is the better party. Voters often have to choose between the lesser of evils.

Barisan will probably win again without the popular votes but with the majority of seats. But that is the trend of politics these days. British Prime Minister David Cameron won only 37% of the popular vote but secured a simple majority in terms of seats to form a government.

Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, an icon for many PAS politicians, is still struggling to form a coalition government after his Justice and Development Party obtained only 41% of the popular vote and could not win enough seats to form a single party government.

The Pakatan set-up, as we know it, is in its final days. Something major is cooking and things will be clearer in the coming week when DAP makes a critical decision about its place in Pakatan.

There are also signs that a new Malay party may be formed as the repository for the disgruntled group in PAS.

Pasma, the NGO set up by Kedah PAS politician Datuk Phahrolrazi Zawawi, was hoping to play this role.

However, Pasma is too much a part of PAS even though it has been labelled a traitor to the party and rejected by PAS members.

It would require an entirely new Malay party to attract the support of Malays in general and become the new Malay face of a new opposition coalition.

All that is easier said than done. Umno and PAS may not be perfect but they are ­genuine grassroots parties and they will not be easy to dislodge.

DAP is also trying to persuade high-profile Malays to join the party to help soften its Chinese image. National laureate Datuk A. Samad Said, 80, set the ball rolling yesterday when he joined DAP. He will now be hailed as a hero by the DAP supporters and an oddball and attention-seeker by his Malay detractors.

Samad will help sell the idea of “DAP for all”. Hopefully, the slogan will last longer than “PAS for all”.

Some Pakatan leaders have claimed that PAS would be nothing without Pakatan. But that, said lawyer and former think-tank head Khaw Veon Szu, is “flawed thinking”.

“Any coalition that aims to take over Putrajaya needs to capture the Malay hinterland of Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, Kedah and Felda in Johor. Only PAS has the access to such areas.

“PAS is gaining traction among the civil servants, police and army, and even among some Malay Rulers. PAS will be the direct beneficiary of Umno’s weakness and losses,” said Khaw.

In that sense, demonising and isolating PAS could backfire on DAP and PKR in the next round.

The next general election, Khaw added, is going to be about three things: the Malay vote, Sabah and Sarawak.

“You want to bring down Barisan, you’ve got to win in the Malay heartland and in Sabah and Sarawak,” he said.

DAP has maxed out in the Chinese constituencies. If DAP wants to improve on its seat count, it needs to go into mixed or Malay seats.

But the majority of DAP leaders still have a rather narrow understanding of how Malays and Muslims feel about issues of the day and especially their preoccupation with religion.

DAP leaders only like to work with liberal-minded Malays who share the DAP way of thinking. The joke is that DAP only likes Malays who think and behave like the Chinese.

To them, all Malaysians should be like people in the west coast towns. And, as far as they are concerned, the best type of Malays are people like Mat Sabu or Dyana Sofea Mohd Daud, who go along with what DAP wants rather than the other way around.

The party likes to think that it is the party of future Malaysians but their DNA is still very Chinese. DAP is a world apart from PKR, the only party that can claim to be truly multi-racial in form and practice.

Selangor Mentri Besar and PKR deputy president Azmin Ali rarely loses his cool but he came close to it last week when DAP politicians went on social media to pressure him to take a stand on the DAP-PAS fallout.

Azmin had snapped at a DAP MP over Twitter, “don’t be childish”.

DAP politicians had expected him to gang up with their party against PAS but he refused to play along. After all, PAS had backed him for the Mentri Besar post whereas DAP had preferred Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail. Azmin’s party is the minority in the Selangor government with only 13 assemblymen compared to 15 each in DAP and PAS. The irony is that the minority party has become the kingmaker without whom the Selangor government will collapse.

The tumult in Pakatan, said Khaw, is a result of the coalition going through the post-Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim stage.

Anwar has often been described as the glue holding Pakatan together. With the glue gone, the three component parties are doing their own thing. Dr Wan Azizah is the Opposition Leader but she has neither the clout nor the skills to handle all these big personalities.

Pakatan politics has come full circle but it is not game over yet.