A doomed election strategy

The worst kind of egos can rise together if the common enemy is their only objective and they adhere to a leader.

Praba Ganesan, The Malay Mail Online

Within the next 10 months, the 14th general election would have concluded.

Before Muslim fasting begins in May 2018, either Najib Razak has led Barisan Nasional (BN) to 15 straight national victories; or all non-BN parties accumulate 112 or more seats and seek to negotiate a working majority to rule — which includes the possibility of a BN government with the help of others inside Parliament.

This column is not in support of BN. However, it has grave concerns about Pakatan Harapan’s chances reliant on a packed roster with every personality ever to have graced national politics — as long as they are now sworn enemies of the present BN government.

The stratagem is doomed to fail.

If Pakatan delivers, then I’d gladly eat humble pie. I’d concede to the enlightenment a room of aged men brings with their sins adorned on their sleeves.

A window-dressing structure    

I’ve urged for renewal, positing that both Anwar Ibrahim and Mahathir Mohamad’s eras have passed and would be better elders than the tip of Pakatan’s attack.

The notion has been ignored.

In response they offer a leadership structure, which is a sham. It at best only agrees on the order in which leadership names appear on an A4 paper.

Anwar gets to have his name at the top, as de facto leader. He is presently ineligible to contest a parliamentary seat before 2023. The former deputy prime minister has never faced a party challenge since 1993 so he expects the country to have the democratic rigour he appears to disdain for himself.

Mahathir is chairman. He oozes with experience in exerting much power in what were designed as emeritus positions, as evidenced by his decade at Petronas, Proton and Perdana Leadership Foundation.

He was the large shadow over both prime ministers Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Najib Razak, and only a fool would expect less from the control-freak from Kedah. He took on the mega sized multi-portfolio filled prime minister’s department.

The current situation is easier.

The chairman speaks publically, and the de factor leader passes notes to lawyers and family. An uncomfortable balance presides.

Cue the third name.

To insulate rather than regulate is the layer referred to as coalition president in the guise of Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.

She won’t harmonise the two men, but rather seek to mitigate Mahathir’s claw for prominence in her husband’s absence by sandwiching him. She may have a position, but she is no match for Dr M’s Hyde.

Which brings us to the deputy presidents; Pribumi president Muhyiddin Yassin, DAP secretary general Lim Guan Eng and Amanah president Mohamad Sabu.

Muhyiddin neither leads his party nor this coalition, Lim’s party faces deregistration as the Registrar of Societies (ROS) predictably squeezes them in an election cycle, and Amana is unsure of its appeal.

The three deputy presidents have four vice-presidents. Which is odd because the PKR man at that level, Azmin Ali, is Selangor’s mentri besar.  His words would be revered by virtue of the richest state’s machinery and resources at his disposal, above those posited on top of him let alone those parallel to him in the leadership chart — Pribumi’s Mukhriz Mahathir, DAP’s Chong Chieng Jen and Amanah’s Salahuddin Ayub.

Saifuddin Abdullah as secretary-general is expected to weld the group together with no elected position in any party, state assembly or the Dewan Rakyat.

M. Kulasegaran is treasurer-general for a coalition which manages its finances at their own parties, which becomes a shy point on what the appointment is supposed to espouse.

The age average is above 60, and only Sarawak’s Chong is under 50 years of age.

Lim Kit Siang lurks in the fringe, Nurul Izzah Anwar is PKR election director and Rafizi Ramli has a separate organisation operating around PKR but with tentacles in other parties with big data he’d insist the leadership structure must adopt.

This is without stating the obvious that there are palpable holes in the Borneo game, a PAS itch no one can scratch and floating policies thin on narratives.

It is clearer by the day, that an actual and not a symbolic power structure with the name at the very top empowered to lead with a mandate is inescapable if Pakatan wants to maximise the personality driven campaign.

The worst kind of egos can rise together if the common enemy is their only objective and they adhere to a leader. This is not the case in this sordid play, instead here it is a powder keg of power-grabs.

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