Pakatan Rakyat – questions about the coalition’s legitimacy

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Up until now Pakatan Rakyat has never publicly defended the make-up of its coalition on the basis that to do so would invite awkward questions about the coalition’s legitimacy.

Thus it has avoided at all costs trying to explain the bizarre three-way marriage of an Islamist party that is becoming less tolerant by the day, a secular party that is becoming more Chinese by the day, and a PKR that is becoming more factionally divided by the day.

The strategy of all three parties is to pretend that such an alliance is quite natural. And so far, they have got away with it. Just.

But on Thursday, DAP secretary general Lim Guan Eng released a rambling, defensive statement that breaks Pakatan’s code of silence.

In it he set out to justify how DAP and PAS can live together in peace and harmony. It makes for compelling, if not believable, reading.

He went back to 2008 to explain the formation of Pakatan “as a counterweight to the ruling BN” that has “agreed on a welfare state to protect the poor, destitute, sick and those who need help.”

He then veered dramatically off the topic by accusing Umno of wanting to introduce to hudud for Muslims and non-Muslims.

The basis for his diversionary attack were the remarks by an obscure Umno State Assemblyman in Johor who said he wanted Johor to be the first state to have “true hudud law”.

Those remarks had received little attention as they were quite obviously the personal opinion of one man who holds little sway in Johor and none nationwide. So why has Guan Eng now latched onto these remarks?

The answer is that Pakatan can no longer pretend it has a happy three-way marriage, and for DAP its supporters now increasingly want to know what their party is doing in coalition with a party that actively reviles them.

Hence in one statement we saw Guan Eng giving us a history lesson about Pakatan Rakyat and then lashing out in a futile diversionary attack.

Is anyone else in the media or in politics seriously suggesting that Umno is pursuing hudud? No, Guan Eng, it is just you.

Interestingly the DAP leader went on to say there was no mention of hudud in the Pakatan manifesto for GE13. Does that mean this elusive document actually does exist?

If so, the rakyat must demand to see this manifesto at once. Not just to read what it says about hudud (although that would be interesting) but to see its full list of policies and the mathematical explanation of how any Pakatan Government would pay for them.

So far such explanations have been missing from its ad hoc pronouncements on things like PTPTN and axing vehicle excise.

Guan Eng trying to pretend he has a good working relationship with PAS beggars belief. He is known to have nothing but disdain for the Islamist party and his own DAP has demonstrated in recent days that it believes it has better electoral prospects than its PAS partners by trying to grab the most seat allocations.

In return, PAS wants to field more candidates in Guan Eng’s own Penang state. The battle within Pakatan is truly underway.

By launching such a prickly defence of the very basis of the Pakatan coalition, Guan Eng has reminded us of what we already do know.

Pakatan Rakyat is a flawed concept. The idea of three diverse parties setting aside their ideological differences for the sake of power is fine in Opposition (just), but it fails in Government.

That’s why now, as Pakatan supporters start to think about what their chosen party might be like in office, the questions about the coalition’s legitimacy become harder to avoid, with Guan Eng finally forced to defend its very existence.

Thanks for Thursday’s statement, Guan Eng. It has raised even more questions than it has answered. –the choice