No more hope in Pakatan Harapan

Any political system can commit mistakes and any state can commit mistakes. What is most important is to acknowledge these mistakes and put them right as soon as possible and put those behind them into account, bring them to account.

— Hosni Mubarak, fourth president of Egypt

As a citizen, I think I deserve to be given a hard kick if I were to allow myself to be caught in the crosshairs of political power play, which has continued to intensify, particularly at the national level.

This is a controversial topic but I did not dive into declaring that “there is no more hope in Pakatan Harapan (PH)” without a long and thorough analysis of the opposition coalition.

In fact, I have even authored a book after following the development in PH since its formation in 2016. This is four long years of observation of the ‘Coalition of Hope’, which has brought us anything but hope.

It doesn’t bother me if leaders and supporters of PH are unhappy with my declaration that PH is as good as dead now.

As I’ve publicly stated several times previously, I am not in the business of pleasing politicians from any sides.

I am on the side of reason and more importantly, the truth. My conscience dictates and guides my thoughts and hence, my decision on what I should put in writing.

Pakatan Harapan — so, what’s in a name? The opposition alliance had coined a string of names over the past few decades.

In recent decades, we have heard of Gagasan Rakyat, Barisan Alternatif, Pakatan Rakyat and finally, Pakatan Harapan.

There could also be other smaller opposition groups with other names which I am unable to recall off-hand.

Gagasan Rakyat was used in the 1990 election with Semangat 46 led by Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, DAP and PBS being the main players.

After failing miserably against the Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad-led Barisan Nasional in the polls, Gagasan Rakyat folded. Semangat 46 and PBS returned to the BN fold several years later.

In the 1999 election, the opposition came up with Barisan Alternatif with a new member, Parti Keadilan Nasional, joining the fray.

This was the start of the Reformasi era following the sacking of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as deputy premier a year earlier.

It was during this period (1996-2001) that I was involved in active politics in Sarawak. As the secretary-general of Parti STAR then, I was in the Sarawak Barisan Alternatif committee and met with our allies in Keadilan and DAP regularly in planning for the elections in Sarawak.

PAS has not been established in the state yet, so the Islamic party played no role in Sarawak over this period.

Sarawak Barisan Alternatif also fared badly in the 1999 parliamentary and 2001 state elections.
Pakatan Rakyat was set up just before the 2004 general election but did not stamp its mark until 2008.

For the first time, the opposition alliance denied BN its two-third majority in Parliament. By then, PAS was already a key ally in Pakatan Rakyat. Then came 2016 with the surprised entry of Dr Mahathir and his group into the opposition and Pakatan Harapan was born.

Fast forward to the 2018 general election (GE14) and the PH’s resounding victory but the euphoria only lasted 22 months.

The Sheraton putsch last February marked the end of the people’s hope in this grand coalition of hope.

What did we see? A coalition of indisciplined strange bedfellows who do not trust one another but each pursuing his or her individual agenda for power and position.

We saw backstabbing, sleazy backroom deals and treachery at its height. Allies turned enemies and long-time opponents bonded with a singular purpose — to attain power, no matter what it takes.

The people who voted for them were never in the equation. As far as I’m concerned, PH died last February. A coalition with leaders constantly fighting among themselves is no coalition at all. In fact, I would even state that PH is an alliance with no leadership.

To many PH supporters, the last straw came last Thursday on the 2021 Budget vote in Parliament.

Opposition leader Anwar fumbled and erred big time. It was a silly tactical move if there was indeed one.

I’m surprised that Amanah president Mohamad Sabu and DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng did not overrule Anwar even though they did not agree with his last-minute decision to allow the budget to pass at that stage. Doesn’t the majority rule in a democracy?

Both Mat Sabu and Lim stated later that they were very unhappy with Anwar’s directive. Why cry over spilt milk? It shows how spineless they were when it came to the crunch.

I would have difficulty in following such leaders in PH. They conveniently forgot that the voice of the people mattered and the people wanted a vote to be taken, win or lose.

The people were not interested in hearing lame excuses. They had heard enough. Explanations and apologies from several PH lawmakers were too little too late.

Anwar, when even your own daughter, Permatang Pauh MP Nurul Izzah, also expressed her disappointment and disapproval, you should know where you stand.

That was a wrong, wrong, wrong call, Anwar. The price for PH to pay for this stupid move will be heavy.

(To be continued. Part 2 next Wednesday).

The views expressed here are those of the columnist and do not necessarily represent the views of New Sarawak Tribune.