Barisan Nasional is definitely at the end of its shelf-life. But the opposition has still to come up with a winning alternative. Pakatan Rakyat came very close to send BN packing in PRU13, and political pundits predict that PR will win PRU14.
But alas, there is no more PR. In its place is Pakatan Harapan without PAS, and the odds are it will remain an opposition coalition, ad infinitum. Why this change in a winning combination? In the answer lies all that manifest Malaysian politics.
Without substantial Malay votes, PH is doomed to remain as an opposition. Malaysian politics is still racial politics. Ignore it at your peril. Archaic politics you may say, but Malaysia has never progressed as a single unit. The rural-urban gap remains in all aspects and may have even gotten wider, much to the glee of the beneficiary, UMNO. Rural votes have remained largely captive in either UMNO or PAS.
So what’s PH doing with no PAS in tow? That’s because Putrajaya is not the top priority of its leading party, DAP. A higher priority is that DAP’s party ideology should get its way above everything else. Maybe PAS is like that too. And even PKR. Of course they are not meant to be wholly in agreement with each other. That is why there are three parties and not one, and a coalition is the answer.
A coalition is deemed to be a cooperation of parties with shared overlapping top priorities. Other differences don’t really take precedence in the face of these shared priorities. When PR was formed, the assumed top priority was ousting BN from Putrajaya. Sadly, smelling eventual victory, the coalition parties chose to magnify their differing selfish interests.
That’s what happens when all the parties are of almost equal strength, when compared to with their areas of influence. Instead of capitalising on their combined strengths in these areas, they chose to flex their muscles to claim that exalted position as top dog. They will claim that the party’s struggle remain more important than winning. Aha, now it comes out.
A party representing (coincidentally, perhaps) a minority race will never rule Malaysia. DAP seems to accept that reality. So it switches to the second best option – a multi-racial coalition where DAP is top dog. The only buyers seem to be parties that need Chinese votes in mixed constituencies. There is only a handful compared to Malay majority seats in Peninsular Malaysia. Will Parti Amanah take the place of PAS in the Malay heartland? Not likely.
Amanah’s leaders could not even win rural Malays’ affection when they were in PAS, what more when they are outside. An urban Malay opposition party, PH doesn’t need because PKR is already there. In fact, it may put the two parties in a coalition course. DAP, as the party that has the support of 90% Chinese voters, seems to put these two parties through their paces to be the one most likely to french kiss its ass.
So PH with the independent PAS in the opposition, in the best scenario, they could be successful in robbing BN of its majority in Parliament. But BN will remain the largest party in a hung Parliament, and it will be called by the YDPA to form a minority government after PRU14. Soon after, it will get its majority, as ‘Cash is King’ according to Prime Minister Najib Razak. One wonders why so much was set aside into Najib’s account for PRU13 aftermath?
DAP’s political intention is clear, and PAS has declared that their winning is meaningless without the fruition of their party’s political struggles. PKR remaining neither here nor there, and upstarts Amanah will be a mosquito party. Amanah’s founders could have waited to win over PAS grassroots, but after decades of suffering as opposition politicians, and with ministerships in sight, TG Haji Hadi’s about-turn was understandably too much to bear.
So Malaysian politics is not about giving the electorate a chance at progress in diversity but more of obstacles in diversity. Diversity is as much an excuse to stifle democracy for the ruling party, as it is an obstacle to unity for the myopic opposition. Does it matter if Najib is still there or not? Nah, by our own misdoings, BN’s victory is on autopilot.