PAKATAN Rakyat seems to have died down everywhere except in Selangor, where Menteri Besar Azmin Ali just declared that it is alive and is the alliance in power.
It seems like a strange U-turn from the veteran politician who has up till this point given full indication that he is supportive of a Pakatan Harapan administration, as implied by attending official party functions and government functions with PH component party leaders, particularly Amanah.
About a year ago, Azmin had even openly campaigned for the Amanah candidate in the Sungai Besar parliamentary by-election in Selangor where his party, PKR, shares power with PAS.
PAS had fielded their own candidate for that election. It must have been awkward for Azmin then to be delivering a ceramah across the road from his PAS colleagues, probably fresh from chairing an Exco meeting with them.
Azmin’s declaration essentially means that there could now be different arrangements for state and national politics, something which is quite common outside Malaysia but is an unproven political manouvre here.
In India, there are two large national alliances – the National Unified Alliance, led by the BJP and the United Progressive Alliance, led by the Indian National Congress.
Though the national makeup of the parties are fixed, in some states, the membership is varied, the state or regional chapter of a party in a particular alliance sometimes can opt out of the state level coalition of that alliance, sometimes choosing to join another alliance or go at it alone.
Sometimes, alliances are only formed upon the winning (or losing) of an election, as was the case in the recently concluded UK General Elections, or only cemented after the elections, like our very own historic 2008.
Arguably though, that has never been the case with Malaysia, as her politics has always been party-driven rather than issue-driven. So, the parties and their alignment is more important to many, compared to the issues carried by those parties.
Whatever the motivation for Azmin’s insistence on keeping Selangor as a lone “Pakatan Rakyat” state, it will only spell complications in a national BN versus Pakatan Harapan scenario.
Leaving the question of Pakatan Harapan in Selangor half unanswered may be a tactical move by Azmin to maintain the status quo and hold on to power.
But holding on to PAS may cost Azmin some support in his own party, amongst those uneasy with this bending over backwords to accommodate a former ally who has been taking pot shots at the party. It will also likely not sit well with PKR’s increasingly irritated allies, DAP and Amanah, and new-but-growing PPBM, who have already committed to making Pakatan Harapan work.
So where does that leave Pakatan Rakyat and Pakatan Harapan?
And more importantly, the harapan of the rakyat?
Azmin owes it to both the Selangor electorate as well as opposition supporters from around the nation to make clear PKR’s loyalties when it comes to Selangor, or he will risk igniting the ire of voters in the coming general election.
THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT