Pakatan in its current form is destined for failure

Dr Shamsher Singh Thind

I refer to the statement made by Abdul Aziz Isa, Special Assistant to Yang Berhormat (YB) Chong Chieng Jen, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Bandar Kuching, on 4 November 2017. In essence, Abdul Aziz wanted us to stop being egotistic, and instead, accept or at least tolerate Dr Mahathir Mohamad for the betterment of the younger generation. The YB’s Special Assistant also issued a warning that those who are still unable to do so “will suffer, not Tun M.”

Bollocks to that!

Certainly, I do not wish to hear any kind of lecture on politics and psychology from Abdul Aziz Isa. I wish to remind Malaysians that Abdul Aziz was the DAP candidate for Batu Kitang constituency during the Sarawak state election last year. In that election, he contested not only against the Barisan Nasional’s Lo Khere Chiang, but also against PKR’s Voon Shiak Ni.

Legend has it that Abdul Aziz stayed in his car parked near the nomination centre until he received the news that PKR nominated its candidate for Mambong, where DAP planned to field a candidate. Only then did he submit his nomination form to legitimise his candidacy for Batu Kitang. See how conveniently he succumbed to his and his party’s selfish plan?

Batu Kitang and Mambong are two of the six constituencies in which DAP contested against PKR. The other four are Mulu, Murum, Simanggang and Ngemah. Needless to say, BN won handsomely in all the said six constituencies, as well as in 66 other constituencies (including two won uncontested), whereas Pakatan won in just 10 constituencies. In the 2011 Sarawak state election, Pakatan won 15 seats out of 71 seats!

The problem is not that I hate Dr Mahathir to a point that I want BN to be re-elected. The problem is that Pakatan simply does not exist as a strong united front capable of forming an effective government, and this leaves me (and many others, I believe) with no choice but to let BN win again.

Let us be realistic. When you are hungry and need food, you will settle for anything will even eat leftovers. What possible benefit can you gain from watching a cookery show on the food channel when you are having a rumbling stomach? Unless, of course, you believe that you can put your hand into the television set and steal a cookie from the table!

Yes, Pakatan has to walk the walk.

According to Clause 5 of the Pakatan Harapan Agreement (which I am not sure if it is still valid today), its Presidential Council has the final say in deciding which component party’s candidate shall contest in which constituency during an election, in the event the parties are unable to reach an agreement. However, as seen above, the Presidential Council failed miserably to make the crucial final decision during the recent Sarawak state election.

If Pakatan’s leaders are unable to make a simple decision, which was very much within their collective’s discretion, then what else can they do for the country? Everyone knows about the Perak constitutional crisis which took place immediately after three assemblymen crossed over to BN in 2009, which effectively caused the collapse of Pakatan-led state government. However, not many are aware that Pakatan’s problem started much earlier.

The Sultan of Perak picked Ir Mohammad Nizar of PAS as the Menteri Besar since Pakatan at that time was unable to make its own decision. The swearing-in ceremony, which had originally been scheduled to take place on 13 March 2017, was postponed just because DAP was unhappy with the Sultan’s choice. DAP wanted either its own assemblyman, Ngeh Koo Ham, or PKR’s assemblyman, Jamaluddin Mohd Radzi, as the Menteri Besar.

To make things worse, a day before the scheduled swearing-in ceremony, Lim Kit Siang ordered all Perak DAP assemblymen to stay away from the event. The Sultan of Perak was saddened by this insult. DAP subsequently accepted the decision made by the palace and Lim Kit Siang tendered his apology to Sultan Azlan Shah and Raja Dr. Nazrin Shah. Ironically, it was Jamaluddin who ended up becoming one of the three assemblymen who jumped ship!

Well, failing to plan is planning to fail.

The advantage that BN has is that it is a stable coalition. Its tried and tested formula worked all the time, although it is nowhere near perfect. In order to vote out BN, the voters need to be convinced that Pakatan is capable of not only governing effectively, but more importantly, staying together until the end of a full term.

But how can voters be convinced with anything about Pakatan when the coalition’s leaders have proven that they never learn from past mistakes? Whatever happened in Perak should have also happened in Selangor after DAP and PKR cut all ties with PAS. BN should have come into power or at least forced a snap election there. Miraculously, Azmin Ali managed to convince PAS to stay on until the dissolution of the state legislative assembly.

Nevertheless, the point remains that the voters do not want such a weak coalition. Having said that, the voters need not be so convinced that BN is the better choice. Sounds unfair? Not exactly. In law, there is a Latin maxim that says onus probandi incumbit ei qui dicit, non ei qui negat, which means the burden of proof is on the person who makes the claim, not on the person who denies or questions the claim.

Following this maxim, there is a presumption which says that status quo is deemed satisfactory until it has been proven otherwise. According to the Debate Handbook published by Toastmasters International, the burden of proof is upon the persons who require a change from the status quo. In other words, voters are entitled to vote for BN by default (status quo), until and unless they are satisfied that Pakatan is better choice (change).

I am of the opinion that Pakatan, even in cooperation with Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM), is unlikely to capture Putrajaya in the upcoming general election. Though I will never accept Dr Mahathir, but supposing I tolerated him for the sake of the country, I will first need to be convinced that Pakatan can perform better than BN. However, for the time being, I am not convinced that Pakatan can even prevent infighting.

I am not even convinced that Pakatan has a Prime Minister candidate acceptable by all parties. I am not convinced that Pakatan is able to stay united after capturing Putrajaya. I am not convinced that Dr. Mahathir wants to save Malaysia – he just wants to get Prime Minister Najib Razak removed. I am not convinced that all financial scandals and abuses of power, other than 1MDB, will be investigated by the Pakatan-led federal government.

Luckily for Pakatan, I am a voter in the Perai and Batu Kawan constituencies. I voted for Prof Dr P Ramasamy and Kasthuri Patto in the last general election and I shall do it again, assuming they are fielded once more (regardless whether DAP is with or without Dr. Mahathir). But that’s just me – voters in many other constituencies may not even know the names of candidates in their constituencies. They might reject a DAP candidate simply because they do not accept Dr. Mahathir!

Unlike Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Dr Mahathir failed to pull any decent crowd as seen during Bersih 5 and Anti-Kleptokrasi gatherings. So, Abdul Aziz, I know you want your voters to give Pakatan a chance in the next election. Fair enough. But please, tell them first who represented Pakatan in Batu Kitang during the last year’s election. Was it you or Voon Shiak Ni?

Yes, I am hopeful, but not naive. You want people like me to blame our parents and God for our miseries? Well, I will not, because firstly, my parents never voted for BN, and secondly, I am an atheist. You know who I love to blame?

Politicians like you!

Dr. Shamsher Singh Thind is a lecturer in Law and Criminology in Penang

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