PR leaders celebrating their victory during the Permatang Pauh by-election in Aug 2008
SO what is the deal with the Pakatan Rakyat (PR)? Is it merely experiencing the normal teething problems of a newly formed political coalition? Are all its problems engineered by the BN, or could some actually have been internally generated?
After the 8 March 2008 general election, the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) made such stunning gains that it promised to bring down the federal government via defections by 16 Sept. But barely two years after the historic elections, the opposition coalition is now hogging the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
The PR appears to be facing an internal revolt in Penang against Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng. Elsewhere, there seem to be intra-party and inter-party disciplinary issues — Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR)’s Zulkifli Noordin, for example, has spat at both PKR and PAS leaders on matters related to Islam.
And then there are the high-profile court cases. The first is the controversial ongoing trial of PKR adviser and parliamentary Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim for allegedly sodomising his former aide. And then on 9 Feb 2010, the Federal Court frustrated many PR supporters by ruling that the Barisan Nasional (BN)’s Datuk Seri Zambry Abdul Kadir was the rightful Perak menteri besar.
Does the PR have any staying power? After all, the coalition’s precursor, the Barisan Alternatif, crumbled in 2001, barely two years after making impressive gains in the 1999 elections.
The answer to whether the PR and its members are democratically resilient is important because time and again, the PR has stated that it is a better alternative for Malaysians and is ready to form federal government.
If this is the case, then the coalition needs to be honest about a few things. The contention here is not that the BN remains the better alternative. In fact, the BN has demonstrated that even after the drubbing it received in the 2008 elections, it still resorts to undemocratic means of wielding power. It still plays racial politics, and still allows for undemocratic and exclusivist interpretations of Islam to affect public policies and legislation.
The question is, should Malaysians take the PR’s promises at face value? Has the PR truly convinced Malaysians that it is ready to govern? Are we assured that it will not be as repressive as the BN, or even more so? Are we assured that racial and religious politics will no longer have currency if the PR takes over federal government?
And is the PR actually clear on larger issues of democratic governance? Even after the failure of their 16 Sept 2008 takeover bid, and the February 2009 collapse of Perak’s PR government, some PR leaders still think party-hopping is not such a bad idea. In the meantime, several PR Members of Parliament will not state clearly whether they believe Malaysia is a secular or Islamic state.
For a while, it looked as though the March 2008 election results accelerated Malaysia’s transition into full democracy. Some countries have transitioned successfully from authoritarian to democratic regimes in the post-colonial era, for example Indonesia and Spain. But in other countries, citizens managed to overthrow dictatorships, only to have them replaced with even more despotic or non-functioning regimes. Iran, Tunisia, Cameroon and Nigeria are examples.
The PR is confident that it is up to the challenge in leading Malaysia’s democratic transition, and eventually governing the country. Is it, really? Has it done enough to convince Malaysians that it is indeed the better alternative?
Tell us your thoughts in exactly six words. To start with, here are the newsroom’s contributions:
Time to clean out PR’s closet.
Don’t blame media for PR woes.
Too many egos in Pakatan Rakyat.
Throwing public tantrums really not impressive.
Too much fighting, too little governing.
Focus on governing, not stealing limelight.
Discipline bad apples, stick to principles.
Alternative government yes, childish bickering no.
13th GE slipping through their fingers.
Islamic or secular? No clear answers.
Jacqueline Ann Surin:
Can’t reach Putrajaya if bickering continues.
Not impressed with lack of discipline.
BN or PR. Devil or sea.
So much in-fighting. So few principles.
Kalau sokong lompat-melompat, apa bezanya PR?
Koh Lay Chin:
PR may need better internal PR.
House of cards: a poor alternative.
Anti-BN can’t be the only stance?
Art of War — both sides fail.
PR’s long-term vision = single-term myopia?
Pakatan watches Barisan. Who watches Pakatan?
Pakatan replaces Barisan. Who becomes PM?
Is the enemy’s enemy a friend?
Problems: BN induced or internally hatched?
Empowered citizens, not heroes, build democracy.
Siapa muka sebenar jika PR berkerajaan?
Rock (BN). Citizens. Hard place (PR).
The Nut Graph craves better alternatives.
Inspired by Ernest Hemingway‘s genius, the Six Words On… section challenges readers to give us their comments about a current issue, contemporary personality or significant event in just six words. The idea is to get readers engaged in an issue, while having fun and being creatively disciplined.
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