Pakatan Harapan: Friends with benefits?


Mak Khuin Weng, Malay Mail Online

On nomination day for the 11th Sarawak Elections, Datuk Seri Mohamad Azmin Ali said it was ‘unfortunate’ that PKR and DAP could not come to an agreement. This was followed by a flood of comments from both DAP and PKR reps blaming each other for the snafu that continues till today.

It was neither fortune nor misfortune that played a part in the disintegration of relations between the two coalition partners of Pakatan Harapan however.

Let’s go back to the basics of this whole issue: Pakatan Harapan, like its predecessor coalition Pakatan Rakyat, was not founded on proper and legally binding principles. The coalition’s common framework policy does not have a ‘punishment’ mechanism for disobeying a jointly reached consensus.

Can Azmin Ali be punished for defying the Presidential Council decision where a list of seats allocated to both parties was agreed upon? Can Lim Guan Eng be similarly punished? If there is no deterrence or consequence to break promises, how can coalition members ever trust each other?

Pakatan Harapan could have avoided this pitfall as they had committed a similar mistake much earlier when it was still called Pakatan Rakyat.

When DAP and PAS signed a letter to affirm that PAS was free to pursue the Islamic nation (i.e. Hudud) on its own, it did not stop DAP from later accusing PAS of betrayal for pursuing the Hudud agenda.

No lessons were learnt because there was no immediate consequences. DAP and PAS continue working together in the Selangor government till today after a much publicised breakup (that wasn’t really a breakup).

Since there are no consequences or actual rules of conduct among Pakatan Harapan members, it was also not wrong for DAP and PKR to work with Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed to take down Umno (or save Umno, depending on who is doing the talking).

One could be forgiven for believing that Pakatan Harapan members do not have any scruples when it comes to whom they should bed.

All it takes to stem the infighting and bickering between coalition members is for Pakatan Harapan to be formally registered and have rules and punishment clauses to govern the conduct of member parties. Just like a formal marriage, the most basic and simplest of rules is that “Thou shalt not cheat or thy spouse will get a divorce and claim half your assets!”

It seems that a formalised marriage (along with all the responsibilities of getting married) is much too scary for our opposition parties however. Either that, or everyone seems to have the idea that remaining friends with benefits is the best option until the right suitor comes along. If that is the case, then this entire Pakatan Harapan relationship is little more than a fling for each of them.

So what is the message Pakatan wants to tell the public? Are they going to get married and become a stable family for voters to depend on or is this whole affair little more than a fling and voters cannot expect them to form a viable coalition?