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Is this the government we want in the future?

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There are growing signs of upset egos and estranged relationships among the three parties in Pakatan Rakyat. This is evident from the non-appearance of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim at the DAP national congress last weekend, despite Anwar’s excuse that he gave it a miss because he was in Terengganu for a rally the previous night.

Add to this the fact that Anwar also skipped the PAS muktamar last month, and it is clear that all is not well behind the Opposition smiles and handshakes.

PKR sent party president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution in Anwar’s place for the PAS muktamar, and Wanita chief Zuraidah Kamaruddin and vice-president Datuk Mansor Othman for the DAP congress, but PKR’s B-team has reportedly not mollified ‘allies’ PAS and DAP who are upset with Anwar’s ‘no-show’.

How can the de facto leader of Pakatan not find time to attend the biggest gatherings on the political calendar of his ‘allies’? This amounts to a slap in the faces of the Lim dynasty and of the Islamist brigade, none of whom seem impressed.

Sending Mansor in place of Anwar was also like rubbing salt in DAP’s political wound. After all, it was Mansor who had ruffled DAP’s feathers with his “cocky, arrogant Tokong” remark about Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.

The strained relationships between the three Pakatan parties reportedly started over the issue of seats. Their negotiations over seat-sharing have neither been smooth nor successful, and PKR politicians claimed that DAP and PAS have not shown PKR the respect they feel it deserves.

So in the end the three ‘allies’ in Pakatan are upset with each other. This is no way to run a coalition, let alone when a general election is barely months away.

There are also signs of one-upmanship that threaten to tear Pakatan apart. PAS shocked the nation last month when it laid claim to having a PAS Prime Minister in case Pakatan wins GE 13. With PAS trying to muscle its way to the top, this upended all political calculations within the coalition.

The Islamist party has repeatedly shown that Pakatan needs it more than it needs the coalition. The crisis over hudud is a case in point, with PAS making it clear that it was ready to dump Pakatan if need be. PAS clearly wants PKR and DAP to dance to its tune, which must have come as a rude shock to the likes of Anwar and Lim Guan Eng.

A nervous DAP is trying to maintain the status quo, in the hope that it can keep the Islamist beast at bay. But PAS is not some circus tiger. This is a dangerous creature that is ready to devour its ‘allies’, and will not controlled by mere platitudes. It wants to be fed, and the lunch it is eyeing is the PM’s post.

At stake is Pakatan’s future. Anwar may find himself at the losing end of this power struggle, but either PAS or DAP may have to leave the coalition. Both parties cannot cohabit any longer, given the Islamist party’s increasingly aggressive stance.

The Opposition will then have to say goodbye to ever winning anything, and Anwar’s fantasy of becoming Prime Minister will have become a personal nightmare.

This is a wake-up call for voters too. Pakatan’s squabbling leaders, incoherent policies and poor track record show it is incapable of providing effective governance.