Run-Up to GE14: A crisis averted at Pakatan Harapan Selangor?

This article first appeared in The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on April 30, 2018 - May 06, 2018.
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FOR starters, was the recent hoo-ha over the PKR candidate list for GE14 a crisis in the first place, especially for Selangor? For some, it was not, and for others, yes.

For the “yes” crowd, since it was a crisis, the question (and the title for this article) should be, “Was a disaster averted?”

Come to think of it, what if the people in PKR who had threatened to quit in protest over the candidate list had carried it out? Wouldn’t that have been a disaster, not only for PKR but also Pakatan Harapan?

Now that the “issue” has been “settled”, is it thus a disaster averted?

But did the people said to have made the threat really do that?

No, say the diehards, who blame the pro-BN media for spinning the story.  They could well be right but that’s not the issue here.

The thing is, something did happen. Fellow journalist Jahabar Sadiq puts it this way: “In Pakatan Harapan’s case, the irony is that the party that has its logo as the common symbol is the one mired in issues.” He was commenting on the party leadership who had five years to prepare for the polls but spent the time dithering or pandering to lobbyists.

And I must say I agree with him when he calls it not a crisis, but “political drama”.

And for the political drama, PKR received brickbats from quite a number of Malaysians. Still, the party must consider itself “lucky” for the “public displeasure” as it shows that people do care, as constitutional lawyer Syahredzan Johan pointed out.

Taking to Twitter at the height of the PKR nonsense (to borrow former Bersih chair Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan’s description of the affair), Syahredzan appealed to PKR to “please sort this out, do not let down the people’s palpable desire for change”.

Perhaps everybody who’s somebody in PKR took heed. Perhaps it was for political survival. The fact is, whatever it was that needed to be sorted out was sorted out — apparently.

However, despite PKR president Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Ismail’s “proclamation” that there are no camps in the party, it is no big secret that there are people who are aligning themselves with president Datuk Seri Azmin Ali or with vice-president Rafizi Ramli.

And Wan Azizah, rightly or wrongly, is seen to be “favouring” Rafizi, thus giving the impression that the president and the deputy are at opposite ends.

One can argue that the differences could be owing to the democratic way of agreeing to disagree. Yet, there were times when an implosion looked likely .

Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad of Parti Amanah Negara, Pakatan Harapan’s candidate for Kuala Selangor in GE14, had this to say: “There have been difficult times and at certain critical junctures, it was almost at breaking point.

“Admittedly, I said in an interview with The Edge late last year that I foresaw the issue of seat allocation among PH component parties would be its Achilles heel in the face of the 14th general election.”

He admits that Pakatan Harapan Selangor may have turned out to be more difficult than others “but it is not without its peculiar reasons, historical baggage and perceived Pakatan Rakyat-driven state of sorts, with PAS on board with us”.

As he sees it, “the state administrator has done its level best within the constraints though without unfortunate inadvertent collateral damage to Pakatan Harapan.”

But “that is over now. In that sense, it was a crisis averted”, Dzulkefly says.

To a Pakatan Harapan operative, crises that crop up whenever there is an election is an exercise of leadership ability and organisational cohesion, and it is no different this time.

Summing it up, he says, “Sanity prevailed, reason won, brotherhood returned. Things are in place, the squeaks have lessened. We are heading north. There’s no looking back.”

 

Mohsin Abdullah is a contributing editor. He has covered politics for over four decades.

 

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