In that case if Anwar refuses to apply for a pardon how is the Agong going to grant him a pardon? Can the Agong grant Anwar a pardon if Mahathir applies for a pardon on Anwar’s behalf? Does the system work that way? And if Anwar fails to get his pardon would that not mean the temporary seventh Prime Minister would now become the permanent seventh Prime Minister? Or will they appoint someone else to take over from the temporary seventh Prime Minister if Anwar is not granted a pardon and therefore cannot become the eighth Prime Minister?
NO HOLDS BARRED
Raja Petra Kamarudin
Finally Pakatan Harapan has settled its leadership lineup and the opposition supporters are hailing it as the greatest breakthrough since the formation of the Federation of Malaya or Persekutuan Tanah Melayu in 1948.
Barisan Nasional, that started life as the Alliance Party in 1952, has been married for 65 years. The founders were Tunku Abdul Rahman from Umno, Tan Cheng Lock from MCA, and V.T. Sambanthan from MIC.
The Alliance Party won 51 of the 52 seats it contested in the 1955 elections and that was why the British agreed to give Malaya independence in 1957. It was because the Alliance Party proved it had the support of Malayans.
This was one of the conditions that the British stipulated for Malaya to be given independence — that the new government must have the support of Malayans (so 51 out of 52 seats meant it did). The second condition was that the new Alliance government of independent Malaya must be multi-racial that has the support of all three races and was not going to be a single-race government, in this case meaning a Malay-only-government.
Three months ago someone sent me a message on my 44th wedding anniversary that said: “Falling in love is easy. Staying in love is harder. Well done! Congratulations on your 44th wedding anniversary.”
Barisan Nasional has remained married for 65 years although Barisan Nasional as a legal entity ‘rose from the ashes’ of the Alliance Party in 1973. But no one disputes that Barisan Nasional was born in 1952 just like Malaysia got independence in 1957 although Malaysia was not formed until 1963, six years after Merdeka.
Anyway, that debate would be just like the debate regarding whether Umno is 71 years old or 29 years old since Umno was formed in 1946 while Umno Baru was formed 42 years later in 1988 when Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad deregistered Umno to kick out Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah and his Team B supporters. (The same for the debate whether the United States is really 241 years old).
The point is, the structure of Barisan Nasional has basically remained unchanged since 1952 other than change of name, new registration, additional members coming on board, and so on. The building may have been renovated, improved and upgraded but it has never been demolished and its foundation dug up.
Pakatan Harapan, however, has seen structural changes since the idea of an opposition coalition was first mooted 27 years ago in 1990. In the 1990 general election there were three opposition coalitions. On the east coast was Angkatan Perpaduan Ummah (APU). On the west coast was Gagasan Rakyat. And in Sabah was an unnamed loose electoral pact between Semangat 46 and PBS.
The Gagasan Rakyat coalition on the west coast and the electoral pact between Semangat 46 and PBS died off after the 1990 general election and only APU remained. But then APU survived just six more years and then also closed down in 1996.
Then, just as everyone thought that was the end of the opposition, Mahathir and Anwar Ibrahim crossed swords when Anwar unsuccessfully tried to oust his boss and take over as Prime Minister. Mahathir threw Anwar out of the party and, when he proved a nuisance, three weeks later threw him into jail.
PAS and DAP saw this as an opportunity and rushed to Anwar’s side to pledge support (although earlier PAS and DAP wanted Anwar to be stuffed into jail together with his boss, Mahathir). Any enemy of Umno is a friend of PAS and DAP and suddenly all Anwar’s past sins and crimes were forgiven and forgotten — but just as long as Anwar goes against Mahathir and Umno.
This culminated in the creation of Parti Keadilan Nasional (PKN) and a new opposition coalition called Barisan Alternatif (BA). And this was made possible because of Mahathir. If Mahathir had not kicked Anwar out of Umno and thrown him into jail, PKN and BA would never have existed.
But BA lasted for only two years. In 2001, DAP left the coalition and decided to, once again, go solo. This was because Lim Kit Siang and Karpal Singh both lost the 1999 general election and they blamed PAS for it. They said the Chinese were angry that DAP had formed a coalition with PAS, which was why the Chinese voters punished Kit Siang and Karpal.
So, in the next general election, only PAS and PKR (by then PKN had changed to PKR) faced the 2004 general election as a coalition. DAP once again went back to being a solo opposition party. But DAP still did not do any better in the 2004 general election than it did in the 1999 general election. So was PAS really the problem after all?