“Reconnect with the grassroots before it’s too late, Pakatan”
K Veeriah, Focus Malaysia
FIRST it was the drubbing in Malacca and, now, the devastating defeat in Sarawak.
Given Pakatan Harapan’s poor performance, it is frightening to even imagine the possible decimation of our Opposition in the next general election.
Pakatan made remarkable in-roads in the 2008 General Election riding on the euphoria created by, among others, the Hindu Rights Action Force (HINDRAF) movement. The momentum continued thanks to the role of civil society movements spearheaded by BERSIH in the 2013 and 2018 General Elections.
And finally, the people rose to throw out the Barisan Nasional (BN) Government in 2018 thanks to the people’s faith in the Opposition.
While Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was still languishing in jail, the victorious Opposition pact found it fit to nominate the old fox, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to the office of Prime Minister.
Under the impression that Anwar would replace Mahathir soon after, the Pakatan coalition got blindsided to the fact that Mahathir, in all probability, never harboured such an intention.
That much ought to be deciphered, at least in retrospect, from Mahathir’s latest book wherein he had stated that he had reservations as to Anwar’s ability to helm the country.
As events unfolded, we saw the infamous Sheraton Move, which led to Mahathir’s abrupt resignation followed by the collapse of Pakatan Government.
Unless a secret game plan had already been set in motion, there was no reason for Mahathir to resign. Even if the Pakatan Government was under siege, they ought to have had the courage to confront the unscrupulous attempts to dislodge the democratically elected administration.
By abdicating on their moral obligation to do so, I believe they lost the trust and confidence of the people. Such a trust deficit, in my view, is now manifesting itself in the voters’ show of contempt with the PKR and DAP.
Losing touch with common man’s plight
One need not be a political pundit to say that the Government would be encouraged to call for an early general election, seeking to capitalise on the prevailing voters’ sentiments.
Under such circumstances, one needs to ponder whether there is still hope for the Opposition to salvage themselves or get buried for good.
As a layman, I believe there is still hope.
I hope that the Opposition will begin to resync itself. Pay attention to the sentiment of the people and reach out to the young voters with well-defined policies on fundamental issues like unemployment and empowerment.
Look into uplifting the marginalised and vulnerable segment of society – the fishermen, farmers and those in the informal sector. Come up with policies to address climate change and food security.
With that, Pakatan must come up with plans to protect and preserve the environment. As a unionist, I also hope the Opposition will look into emancipation of the low- and middle-income wage earners, with affordable housing and stabilising cost of living issues being taken care off.
Pakatan should also come up with new ideas to remove the toxic and archaic laws that have infringed upon fundamental rights of civil society movements and the people. Go back to basics Pakatan – engage the grassroots!
In my view, PKR and DAP have lost touch with the man on the street. They have, in my opinion, embraced political elitism at the expense of what ordinary people really need.
I, therefore, would argue that PKR and DAP ought to rejuvenate itself by reaching out to the people. Unless they regain the trust and confidence of the voting masses, they may well be doomed in the next general election.
K Veeriah is a veteran unionist and a contributor to FocusM.