One of the important elements of a workable coalition and good governance is the ability to comprehend history and processes and to do away with processes or practices that are inimical to the functioning of a government and the nation’s wellbeing.
Towards such an idealism, it is vital to assess the underlying ideology and cultural attitudes of given parties of the past to ensure that it is feasible to work together in the future.
There are times pragmatic reasons could be the source of working together, but it would not last when the core ideology is threatened. This is true regarding the ethno-religious political parties in Malaysia.
For example, while Pas was pragmatic in joining the Barisan Alternative and Pakatan Rakyat, over the years, its main grievances were that the DAP always stood against Pas’ Islamic state goals.
Pakatan Rakyat ultimately broke up because of the incompatible goals of the DAP and Pas. The cooperation in terms of winning elections was a pragmatic one, but it failed in terms of the governance of the states under Pakatan Rakyat. Ideological realities took over from pragmatism and common goals.
One could say that Pakatan Harapan broke up because Bersatu, the smallest Malay party in the coalition that intended to be a greater champion of Malays than Umno, lost by-elections that it stood because of the consistent onslaught by Umno and Pas that PH was under the control of the DAP.
While there are various reasons for the fall of PH, the contentious issue of race and religion was a master political strategy used by Umno and Pas since it had the inherent ideological and emotional pull of swaying the Malay masses against PH.
The latest moves by Anwar Ibrahim in apparently negotiating with Umno for possible cooperation shows that the opposition leader has not learned from the failure of earlier coalitions such as Pakatan Rakyat and PH.
In the context of corruption cases involving some prominent Umno leaders, what possible reformation could Anwar seek from Umno?
The usual argument by some PKR diehards is that Anwar could have been prime minister by ditching the DAP and joining Perikatan Nasional if he was really desperate.
The question is, is PKR trying to say that the DAP has to go along with the whims and fancies of Anwar and his supporters even if the means towards the end seems to be unethical and desperate?
Why single out the DAP? Is PKR saying that the DAP should be grateful to Anwar because even though DAP is perceived as an allegedly racist party, he is still with it?
In fact, the contention that Anwar could have been prime minister if he had joined PN is the greatest lie since Umno, Pas and Azmin Ali’s breakaway group have been dead set against Anwar becoming prime minister. Anwar was not even invited to the so-called Malay Dignity Congress, which was held during PH rule.
Whatever coalition that is sought out, can PKR guarantee that Umno will not play the race and religious card when its demands are not met?
Therefore, it is vital that Anwar come to his senses – that his overriding goal of becoming prime minister could ultimately put PH under the spell of kleptocrats who are trying to escape from their crimes.
It is time to learn from history and processes why the coalition called Pakatan Rakyat and PH failed. It is time to come up with a distinctive socialist alternative that is beyond race and religion that Umno brings to the table.
There is a difference between building a coalition to win elections and governing cohesively in the long term.
While other countries have worked well in building coalitions of ideologically disparate parties for the common good, Malaysia’s race-and-religion-based political parties are trapped in the ideological leanings that have brought them success.
Even though there has been cooperation between the DAP and Umno at the state level, there is a difference when governing at the federal level, which requires major compromises.
Unless Anwar and PH as a whole realise the flaws in their coalition-building exercises, another failure could be on the horizon. – Malaysiakini