The launch of the new Malay party BERSATU was a success and as the person responsible for organising it, Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir deserves a pat on the back. They could easily have had another 2,000 supporters to fill the stadium further but it was not to be. Even so, it was a spirited and colourful event that augurs well for the party’s supporters.
It was still noticeable, however, from the speeches given by some party leaders that BERSATU still lack confidence in their own strength. The speeches were peppered with pleas for PAS and other Opposition parties to be united, a plea that most people would consider wishful thinking.
BERSATU are hopeful for “one-to-one” contests in the upcoming General Election to defeat the Barisan Nasional. The names of some PAS leaders, such as Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man and Iskandar Abdul Samad from Selangor were mentioned as being present when they were not there at all. In fact, I heard that the PAS Central Committee voted unanimously not to send any representative to BERSATU’s launch.
When BERSATU’s President told the Press that they were making progress in their talks with PAS, it was not clear what this meant. Will PAS allow them 30 of the 60 seats PAS contested in 2013? That is unlikely; so what is it, especially when PAS leaders have repeatedly suggested that they are not interested in a pact with the Opposition?
We all remember the PAS Deputy President’s ridiculous demand for Amanah to be dissolved before PAS would consider re-joining the Opposition fold. Then PAS Vice President Datuk Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah made the equally ridiculous excuse that they were not interested in joining because of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s presence in the Opposition line up. To top it all, the PAS President himself, Tok Guru Abdul Hadi Awang, said that there were no four witnesses to the 1MDB case and that he was comfortable with Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s leadership.
With their latest rebuff in not attending the launch yesterday, PAS has made it abundantly clear that they are with Najib. Tun Dr Mahathir must act now, for the sake of BERSATU’s credibility, before people start saying, “Hidung tak manchung, pipi tersorong sorong.”
BERSATU must act with confidence. They must tell the people that they are going to win regardless of whether it will be a straight fight or a three-cornered fight. They must tell the people that PAS have never won anything in their 60 years of history without the support of other Opposition parties.
BERSATU must be confident that whatever PAS takes out in terms of Malay votes (if at all), they will be able to more than compensate for by working with Amanah. BERSATU must be confident that by working with Amanah and other parties in the Pakatan Rakyat, they will bring more Malay votes to the Opposition than PAS did in 2013. If you have the strength of conviction in your own ability, then it’s easier for others to follow you.
In Kelantan, for example, BERSATU could do more to help Datuk Husam Musa from Amanah. They are not, perhaps because they do not want upset PAS and make it less likely for that party to join the pact. But it’s time for BERSATU to get real and know who their true friends are.
If they help Amanah in Kelantan, surely Amanah can help them in Johor and Kedah. Similarly, it’s better for PKR Selangor to have more confidence in Amanah instead of harbouring hopes of PAS joining them. Then they can start working together so that places like Gombak, Hulu Selangor, Hulu Langat and other Malay seats become winnable again.
I hope the real Opposition start getting their act together from today. There is still time. With Najib’s “donation” money frozen in Singapore, and with the new contracts with the Chinese and the FELDA-Indonesian deal still works in progress, the General Election is probably about nine months away. It might even be next year. So start the hard work now and don’t waste any more time engaging in fantasies.
Deal with the real stuff, like seat allocations, candidate vetting and policy initiatives. It’s not deal-making that is going to stir the excitement of the voters, which is what we need to get them to push Najib out. We need people to believe that they are doing the right thing. But you can only do the right thing with the right partners.