Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Unity Talk, Not Over Yet:Cracks in Malaysia's Opposition Coalition

Hantu Laut

The unity talk between PAS and UMNO will be kept in abeyance for now.It is not over yet.It will come back.UMNO still have a comfortable four years to try break up the makeshift coalition.

Among the three, PAS is the most uncomfortable partner and had sudden realization that if Pakatan should win the next general election, PAS would be a junior partner and the diminution of Malay political power.The splitting of the Malay votes between PAS and UMNO would assure that.

UMNO with greater Malay support would be out in the cold and PAS playing second or third fiddle in the coalition. A grim picture that Hadi and Nasharuddin visualised hence the proposal for a unity government.

The most severe test will come, if they do last that long, in the distribution of seats among the three for the next general elections.Anwar Ibrahim will insist on majority of seats to be given to PKR to make it the most senior partner and assure him the prime minister position.PAS would want the same majority of seats that would fulfill their dream of a path to eventually making the nation more Islamic in outlook.DAP would become the biggest winner taking almost all non-Malay seats in Peninsula Malaysia wiping out MCA and Gerakan.

There is no Bangsa Malaysia, a Pakatan sale gimmick.The people would still vote on racial line and a new government that will be an exact replica of the current one but led by a non-Malay dominant party.

The air of distrust among members of the coalition will re-surface and fulfill UMNO's dream.

Cracks in Malaysia's Opposition Coalition
Despite continuing to win by-elections, organizational difficulties abound.
Written by Our Correspondent
Monday, 22 June 2009

Asia Sentinel

The forces that have held Malaysia's unwieldy Pakatan Rakyat coalition together for the last 15 months appear to be fraying, with the opposition coalition foundering on the ethnic and philosophical differences between the constituent parties.

The coalition is made up of the urban largely ethnic Malay Parti Keadilan Rakyat, the rural fundamentalist Islamic Parti Islam se-Malaysia and the mostly Chinese Democratic Action Party. About all that has held the three together was a desire to oust the ruling Barisan Nasional from its 50-year hold on power.

"There are inherent differences not only within the coalition itself but most of all within Parti Keadilan," says one source. "Keadilan itself is made up of three disparate groups — ex-UMNO types, ex-Abim (Malaysian Islamic Youth Movement, from which Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim sprang before he joined the United Malays National Organisation in the 1980s) and various non-government organizations.

"This underscores a major failing," the source says. "Anwar is a great orator, a guy capable of inspiring people, but a poor organizer. He hasn't been doing a good job in holding together Keadilan, let alone Pakatan Rakyat. Not surprisingly, because Anwar isn't working on minimizing the inherent differences, there is a palpable sense of drift in both Keadilan and Pakatan Rakyat."

Given these problems new Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has moved aggressively to try to woo back enough opposition members to reclaim some of the five states lost to the Pakatan Rakyat in the March 2008 national elections. The same election cost the ruling coalition its two-thirds majority in the parliament.

There have been continuing indications that the coalition was troubled. But the biggest one appeared two weeks ago when Hadi Awang and Nasharuddin Mat Isa, the president and deputy president of PAS, respectively, after the party's annual general meeting openly mused about a unity coalition with UMNO. Then, last week, PAS's spiritual leader Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, agreed in principle with the idea of unity talks, as long as they centered on Islamic issues. Ultimately, after a meeting on Monday, the Pakatan coalition agreed to stay together and for PAS to reject any contacts with UMNO. PAS leaders called UMNO un-Islamic. But that doesn't mean the strains won't continue.

Ever since the 2008 elections, the country's politics have been fracturing. The once almost monolithic Malay vote, which UMNO could count on without any concerns, has eroded badly, with UMNO now taking hardly more than half, as ethnic Malays, disillusioned with corruption, have fled to the urban PKR as well as in large numbers to PAS despite its fundamentalist Islamic roots and traditionally rural northeastern base.

That has created tensions within PAS itself, as the so-called Terengganu faction of rural fundamentalists have seen their power eroded by the more moderate urban Malay rank and file. It appears to be those tensions that have driven Hadi and Nashruddin into thinking of a coalition with UMNO to preserve Malay power.

For Pakatan, the defection of PAS could be an enormous problem, although leaders are trying to put a good spin on a bad situation.

"I think a split is possible though it would be quite a dramatic solution," says a top Pakatan source. "Personally I think this isn't a bad idea because I think those who split will be deeply punished in an election. I think if there was a constituency that was being contested by PAS linked to UMNO vs. Pakatan, the people would vote for Pakatan. I think if there was a constituency within PAS aligned to Pakatan versus UMNO and the Barisan, people would stick with the Pakatan faction. A small group of Pakatan and PAS leaders discussed this last week, and we felt that in the current climate, if PAS did do a deal with UMNO they would not come out of that unscathed."

The fissures, thoguh, are real. Ethnic Malays in opposition find themselves growing irritated with the Democratic Action Party, which has been moving aggressively to assert Chinese prerogatives. In addition, Anwar has from the start called for the abolition of Malay privilege under the New Economic Policy, an affirmative action program guaranteeing ethnic Malays a wide range of educational and other benefits.

There is also an element in PAS, a source says, which is extremely concerned about the issue of Malay rights. Others, particularly the Terengganu faction, believe they could be bigger players in a PAS-UMNO government than in one led by Anwar, especially given Anwar's advocacy of greater rights for non-Muslims and more personal, political and religious freedom.Read more....


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Anonymous said...

Unity Talk is the way of UMNO riding on PAS to use and abuse PAS. It is also the way to attempt destroy the Alternative Front.

Just see how HL trying to spin this piece of news and you know how important UMNO supporters wanted the Unity Talk to break up Pakatan.

Some PAS leaders are gullible enough to want to believe UMNO.

eddy said...

Bro, I think the so called memorandum signed by PAS,PKR and DAP last Monday is simply a stay of execution of the demise of the informal Pakatan coalition. The body language displayed by Hadi, Lim and Anwar tells a different story altogether, I have always observed how uncomfortable Hadi is sitting beside Anwar or Lim. I agree that UMNO has 4 years tops to create havoc in this partnership of incovenience between a Secular Party(PKR), Islamist Party (PAS) and a Chinese dominated Party(DAP) and with all three parties having different political objectives, UMNO and BN will have plenty of opportunities to play up the weaknesses and cracks.

So the unity talks between UMNO and PAS is just put on hold, its important for PAS to show now that they can talk directly to UMNO if they wanted to and therefore PKR and DAP cannot simply run rough shod over them if Pakatan wants to stay intact. This will be important when they sit down to talk about Parliament and State seats allocations as PAS will want more Malay majority seats hence eating into PKR territory. Anwar would not want that as PKR was established to make Anwar PM and PKR must have the most number of majority malay seats for that remote possibility to happen while PAS needs more seat to make an Islamic centric Malaysia happen.

It remains to be seen how the Pakatan would hold up when the Anwar sodomy trial starts on 8th July 2009. When the physical evidences held by the Prosecution are laid bare for the court and the public to see and behold. I think it would be so incriminating that an Islamist party like PAS would find it terribly embarassing to be associated with Anwar. I note Anwar's lawyers legal attempts to ensure that the case do not even go to trial, if he is innocent as he say he is why go through all the trouble to stop the trial when he can win the case and therefore assured a place as a hero in our hearts and virtual ticket as next PM of Malaysia?

If Anwar is found guilty then PKR will be politically brain dead and UMNO/BN and DAP will come in to pick up the PKR pieces. If Anwar goes to jail again, his political carrier is kaput and the political landscape will be changed probably as follows:

1. A reformed BN led by a reformed UMNO will still be dominant.

2. PAS on its own with no coalition or in a unity Government with BN. PAS probably losing Kedah but will have a hold on Kelantan and possibly Terengganu.

3. DAP in the opposition on its own becoming increasingly Chinese dominated with some influential Indians at the helm as more Gerakan, MCA and MIC members leave these parties to join them. DAP needs to convince and woo more Malays if they want to make Malaysian Malaysia to happen but can Kit Siang and Guan Eng have the political will to make that happen.

There you are, basically political status quo but no more luxury of 2/3rd majority for BN though and a very robust and feisty opposition in control of some states in Peninsular Malaysia, isn’t democracy great.

Hantu Laut said...

The same way Pakatan wanted to break BN, it is UMNO right to do the same to Pakatan.

You are right, you can see Hadi's body language, he seems unhappy.

I strongly believe this is not the last of the unity talk, it will re-surface and would eventually become a reality.

All the talk by Pakatan of one Bangsa Malaysia is one big bullshit, no such thing will happen even if they form the government.

It's Anwar's bait to fool the non-Malays to throw their weight behind Pakatan.If he does become PM, believe me, it would be back to ketuanan Melayu as usual, if not the Malays are going to kick his arse out and he be gone in a flash and he knows it.

SM said...


You (& Eddy & other UMNO supporters) have been predicting the break-up of the Pakatan Rakyat ever since the last GE.
I guess you guys take a "leaf from the your UMNO Leaders" (i.e. just because you say so does not mean it is so...the Malaysian Rakyat are not fooled anymore!).
This is exactly why this Racist UMNO Government will fall (examples...the Nazis, the South African Apartheid Regime), i.e. because UMNO refuses to change & their supporters refuse to make UMNO change.
Najib just told PAS it is unIslamic to say "No" to unity talks (jeeze, just like UMNO to bring up Religion when it's desperate!).

Hantu Laut said...

Nice to have you back.Don't worry, it's all about politics.We all have our preference and it's not against the law to support any political party of your choice.

SM, believe me, Pakatan will breakup, it's a matter of time.Pakatan is a strange motley of politicians, even if they took the federal government next GE,there will be too much infighting, the alliance will breakup.Anwar is not just an hypocrite, he will be a worst dictator, as already can be seen in Penang.

That's my opinion, you can disagree with me.

Anonymous said...

We will see. Motley crue they may be, but they are equal partners.

Unlike Barisan, where the rest are slaves and servants to UMNO. Just becoz of bribes and money, people like MCA, MIC, SUPP, PBS all are willing to be prostitutes and bitches to UMNO.

Really no eye to see.

eddy said...

SM, I have to correct you, I am a Barisan Nasional Supporter.

Like Bro HL, I strongly believe that the informal Pakatan Coalition will disintegrate sooner than later largely because the political objectives and agenda of PAS, PKR and DAP is too wide for them to offer an alternative Government that have a common platform to be able to run this country of ours as consistent and as stable as Barisan Nasional have done in the last 50 years.

Pakatan are only together based purportedly on their hatred of UMNO and BN. Political Coalitions especially loose ones based on hatred will not last.

You may have your ideas, I have mine, so we agree to disagree, smile be happy, life is short and we enjoy what we can while it last. TQ.