Will Amanah show its mojo?


Suzzy Khalid, The Heat

The opposition bloc – Pakatan Rakyat in Selangor or Pakatan Harapan in Penang – might seem to be in tatters but one of its party members – DAP – has found its perfect match.

A match made in heaven – its new ally, Parti Amanah  Negara (Amanah), would have liked you to think.

At a time when most parties – whether in BN or Pakatan – are at loggers heads with one another, DAP and Amanah are enjoying their honeymoon, especially on the exotic island of Penang.

Leaders of the two parties – DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng and Amanah president Mohamad Sabu – have been singing each others praises so much that those hearing their songs end up blushing like new brides.

But who can deny the two parties their happiness? After all, as English writer Samuel Johnson said “The first month after marriage, when there is nothing but tenderness and pleasure”.

Even when a PAS-Umno alliance are on the horizons, DAP and Amanah are too busy pleasing each other to be bothered about the matter.

Instead, they are celebrating the possibility of such an outcome, saying that the opposition bloc would be stronger if the PAS-Umno alliance was a success.

To them, this would spell doom for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak or PAS president Dato Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, as PAS was a partner in BN in the 70s; but got their fingers burnt from the sordid affair.

“PAS grassroots who have always been opposing the cruelty of Umno would then perhaps cross over to PKR, or DAP or Amanah,” said Penang PAN Information chief Zainulfaqar Yaacob.

Zainulfaqar said the development would allow Pakatan Harapan to formulate new policies for the rakyat, programmes to include those residing in Sabah and Sarawak, to look into the interest of NGOs as well.

“We must promise to punish corrupt leaders, develop effective policies to address the country’s economic and political situation in this 10 years, to abolish the goods and services tax and restore relevant subsidies to help ease the people’s burdens,” he added.

“Pakatan Harapan must defend the constitution including the position of Islam and the royalties. It does not have to be complicated. Be simple, and focus more on the issues all parties can agree on; issues which those without parties can also accept”.

It’s been three months now after Mohamad, tenderly known as Mat Sabu, launched Amanah in a grand orange ceremony in Kuala Lumpur on Sept 16, the day Malaysia was born.

Since then, the relationship has grown so solid that both parties seem to be living in each other’s pockets.

Every time there is an opportunity to undermine PAS – currently the DAP’s arch rival and vice-versa – the latter would invoke Amanah’s name, sending a clear message to PAS that their absence from the opposition bloc or in Penang, will not be missed.

This was evident whenever positions – municipal councillors or village development and security committee members – filled by PAS in the Penang government were vacated. Amanah members would be quickly assigned to fill the posts.

DAP has formed several branches in Malay dominant Umno seat Kepala Batas but the talk in town is that the party is laying the ground for an Amanah candidate – most likely Mat Sabu – for the coming general elections.

According to a party source, Chinese DAP members are allowed to join Amanah, with the blessings of their supreme leader Guan Eng, while Malay Amanah members are persuaded to be DAP members.

“We must help each other, so that we can create some balance in each other’s party. This is a good strategy,” the party source said.

Since their divorce from PAS, Amanah leaders have been touting the goodness and achievements of DAP in all their ceramahs, meetings and forums.

Their favourite tune is “Impian Kelantan” or the Kelantan Dream, where DAP has been consistently raising funds for the state’s flood victims, an act of charity PAS or Umno, hardly did, although those affected are mostly Muslims.

But other than trying to project a multi-racial image to counter the nationalist Umno or Islamist PAS, the DAP-Amanah alliance has not offered anything new.

How long is Amanah planning to depend on DAP’s strength as the ruling party in Penang to help spread its influence within and outside the state?

Although it boasted of a 30,000 membership, Amanah is yet to match PAS’s influence in the rural heartland. Which is why PAS has become so desirable to both Umno and PKR, the other partner in Pakatan Harapan.

No wonder Mat Sabu quipped that PAS leaders were trying to entice the “maleness” in Umno, while inciting them to woo the party into its fold.

Although meant to tease, one could almost feel the envy in Mat Sabu’s speech.   As a veteran politician, Mat Sabu knows, a party’s awesomeness depends on its ability to bring in the numbers.

Can a DAP-Amanah alliance attract more votes than a PAS-Umno collaboration?  That is the question. The answer could either change the face of Malaysia forever, or the country end up being more polarised than ever.

Whatever the case, it’s time for Amanah to show its own mojo, and not depend solely on DAP’s strength – like a henpecked husband clinging to the wife’s skirts for its dear life – to achieve its aim of being a viable alternative to PAS.