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Waylaid on the long and winding road to Putrajaya

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Pas might be tempted to join forces with its nemesis, Umno, in attempting to form a new government in Selangor, in a move that would spell the break-up of Pakatan, writes Mustafa K Anuar.

wan azizah

Life is full of rude ironies. What was initially billed as the ‘Kajang move’ has turned into a ‘Keadilan hurdle’ and, by extension, ‘Pakatan pandemonium’. What was thought to be an easy pushover of a political novice has proven to be anything but.

At one stage, the seemingly harmonious Pakatan Rakyat (PR) alliance appeared to be on the verge of collapse.

Obviously, the crisis that’s haunting Selangor at the moment has caught not only the attention and interest of PR’s political rivals and the media people, but also Selangor residents and other concerned Malaysians outside of the troubled state, the richest in the Federation. This is primarily because the PR has offered, at least in its political manifesto and electoral promises, the kind of politics and governance that is purportedly way beyond what the BN can muster. In short, PR as a collective was supposed to raise the bar.

And because of that, people’s expectations of the PR had run high; in turn they measure the actions and policies undertaken by PR politicians against a higher set of standards. If their criticism of the PR as a whole appears too harsh at times, it is probably because they have invested much energy and passion in the dream of moving towards a more harmonious and progressive Malaysia.

The planned ouster by Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) of Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim was aimed at replacing him with the party president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who won the recent Kajang by-election. But, as we all know, events unfolded beyond the prescribed script. Khalid Ibrahim remains adamant about staying on in his position as MB as long as possible even after the PKR sacked him from the party.

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This long-drawn out episode in many ways has brought out the worst in many people. For instance, politicians washing dirty linen in public may not necessarily bring about the desired outcome. Mudslinging only soiled the combatants themselves. If anything, the warring parties cannot possibly reclaim the moral high ground.

Additionally, some PR politicians appear to have a bad habit of talking more to the media than with their coalition partners especially when a crisis or conflict emerges. The discordant sounds arising from this media interaction not only confounds many people, but also unnecessarily heightens confusion about the Khalid controversy and tension among the stakeholders involved.

The ideological gap and the lack of political cohesiveness within the pact seems to have worsened as a result. Such political frolicking obviously doesn’t serve to contribute better understanding and respect among PR leaders.

In this crisis, Pas turned out to be a party that evoked suspicion among people, particularly the non-Malays, as a result of its foot-dragging in coming to a consensus with its partners in the PR on whether to endorse Wan Azizah as Khalid’s replacement.

Its slow decision-making has also caused disquiet and uneasiness within the PR to the point of some predicting an eventual break-up in the near future. See here, here and here. Others were even worried that Pas might be tempted to join forces with its nemesis, Umno, in forming a newly invigorated government in the state.

As it turned out, Wan Azizah managed eventually to get enough support from fellow politicians in the PR to show that she has the required numbers in the Selangor State Assembly to lead the state as its new MB, something that Khalid Ibrahim appeared reluctant to accept.

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At the time of writing, Khalid and other interested parties are still waiting for the return of the Selangor Sultan from his overseas trip before making any tactical and politically significant move. Some fear that, given the complexity of the crisis, the State Assembly might be dissolved, thus paving the way for fresh state elections.

The political crisis that has befallen Selangor has indeed become a cause for concern to many Malaysians because in many ways it takes the politicians and state leaders concerned away from the important day-to-day governing of the state. Water, as it stands now, is still threatening to be a nagging scarcity in the state. Kidex is still a highway problem that needs urgent fixing. The confiscated Bibles have not yet been returend. Potholes on some roads in Selangor remain an uncomfortable fact.

Housing has increasingly become over the years unaffordable to many people, especially the lower income group in our society. This is particularly felt in urban areas in Selangor and other well-developed states in the country, a pressing problem that has unfortunately been overshadowed by the crisis in Selangor, but fortunately has been taken up and highlighted by a network of civil society groups.

But that is not the only thing that’s afflicting Selangor. Like many other parts of the peninsula, the state is also bitten by ethnic and religious bigotry, which has yet to be addressed adequately and effectively by the authorities concerned. This extremism has left a trail of hate speeches, suspicion and animosity in this multiethnic and multireligious society of ours.

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If it is any consolation, Sarawak seems to have been immune to such social disease. In fact, the harmonious relationship between the ethnic and religious groups in the state could well prove to be a role model for political and religious leaders in the peninsula, as observed by Aliran member Ngu Ik Tien.

Mustafa K Anuar
Co-editor, e-Newsletter
22 August 2014

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