A Requeim for Pakatan Rakyat?

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In these trying times, genuinely concerned politicians who love the nation should perhaps look to some of the towering Malaysians and uphold the values they stood far, says Henry Loh.

In the past weeks, the political happenings in the country seem to be in overdrive, and both sides of the political divide find themselves headlining rather negative news.

The Barisan Nasional-controlled media have been having a field day highlighting the bitter acrimony between Pas and DAP.

At the 61st Pas muktamar, a resolution for Pas to severe ties with the DAP was passed without debate. This resolution then led to Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng advising all Pas members appointed to the state government, state agencies, local government or state-linked companies to resign from these positions as the Penang government is led by the DAP.

This was followed by an announcement by Guan Eng as secretary general and Lim Kit Siang as advisor of the DAP that the opposition coalition Pakatan Rakyat has ceased to exist.

Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) the third component in the three-party coalition was less absolute in its choice of words when it merely acknowledged that “Pakatan Rakyat no longer functions formally”.

As for Pas president, Hadi Awang, he insisted “Pakatan Rakyat is not dead”. Presumably, his position is that, together with PKR, they can keep Pakatan going.

The PKR is the party that is caught in the middle and is being pressured by both Pas and the DAP to make a choice as to which party they wish to align with. There could be serious implications for the stability of the Selangor and Penang state governments if, for instance, PKR withdraws its support from the Penang state government and/or if the DAP withdraws its support for the Selangor state government.

The root of the problem between Pas and the DAP stems mainly from ideological differences. Pas’ insistence (or at least the insistence of some influential quarters within it) on tabling a motion to enact hudud in Kelantan is something the DAP cannot support.

The secular vs Islamic struggle has been part of Malaysian politics for some time, and we need statespersons to emerge from among the factions to come up with workable solutions.

Over at the Barisan stable, Umno is the party that is constantly in the news. Specifically, Mahathir’s attacks against PM Najib over the 1MDB issue has been relentless and unceasing. The federal opposition, both the DAP and the PKR through their MPs such as Tony Pua and Rafizi, have also piled on the pressure for Najib, the 1MDB advisor, to explain why the development fund has built up such a massive RM42bn debt in such a short time.

The latest salvo from Kit Siang stemmed from a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) report which implied that 1MDB funds had been used to bankroll the BN’s 13th general election campaign albeit in an indirect manner. The report alleged that 1MDB had purchased power generating assets from the Genting Group in 2012 at five times above the market value. Genting, in turn, had allegedly donated part of the earnings to a foundation, Yayasan Rakyat 1 Malaysia, controlled by Najib.

The WSJ report claimed, “Though (the foundation was) set up to help underprivileged Malaysians through education and sport, this charity soon got involved in spending that appeared designed to help Najib retain power in the May 2013 election.”

The PM’s office has responded to the report by saying that the claims are baseless.

Meanwhile, electoral watchdog Bersih 2.0 has urged Najib to refute the claims made in the said WSJ report or resign.

With all the mess that our country is in and the poor showing of some of the leaders from both sides of the political divide, it is probably a good time for all concerned to take a step back and really try to work out what is best for this country to move forward positively.

Genuinely concerned politicians who love the nation should perhaps look to some of the towering Malaysians and emulate and uphold the values they stood far.

Aliran’s list of towering Malaysians is certainly non-exhaustive; they came from diverse backgrounds but all hold dear to the principles of justice, freedom, fair-play, democracy, integrity and good governance. On the flip side, they were opposed to greed, corruption, bigotry, extremism and exclusivity. We hope people in positions of power will not forget that it is their role to serve the Rakyat and not to lord it over us.

An insightful reflection by Melbourne-based blogger Hussein Hamid, a Malaysian, Malay and Muslim, challenges readers to break away from the politics of race and religion. He asserts that it is not only the Malays that need to be saved but rather all Malaysians especially the aged, the underprivileged and those living in poverty.

He laments there is a campaign to pit Muslims against Christians with allegations that the latter are proselytising among the Muslims. To him, these are distractions meant to divide the nation and draw attention away from far more important issues. He urges all Malaysians to be wary of self-serving politicians.

His call is for all right-thinking Malaysians to eschew the politics of race and religion and instead seriously consider what they can do to save the nation.

Aliran’s P Ramakrishnan highlights the hypocrisy of two Umno politicians who openly opposed the DAP’s plan to build a mosque in Kampung Pasir Tumboh in Kelantan. The original mosque in the kampung had been damaged by the floods in December 2014.

The politicians have been quoted as saying, “The DAP’s plan to build a mosque in Gua Musang is an insult to Muslims in this country.”

To me, it is clear that Umno wants to be the ‘champion provider’ for Muslims and Malays, and it upsets them that the DAP has been caring enough and quicker to respond to the needs of the Kampung Pasir Tumboh villagers.

It is sad that the opposition pact, with its own share of inter-party problems, is not able to stand united and break the Umno bastion as there is clearly an internal struggle going on there.

Many are also wondering whethere there can be a united opposition front to challenge the Barisan Nasional when GE 14 comes around. Political leaders who genuinely believe that a two-party system is the best bet to ensure proper checks and balances and good governance ought to quickly suggest workable solutions.

Civil society should also play a role and make it known that it is a given that Malaysia is for all Malaysians regardless of ethnicity or religion, and the ideal is to be inclusive so that all can share in the country’s wealth and resources.

Henry Loh

Co-editor, Aliran newsletter

23 June 2015

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