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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

PKR’s Only Policy is “MAD”(Mutually Assured Destruction)


PKR’s Only Policy is “MAD”

by Manjit Bhatia*

COMMENT: Perhaps combusting is the wrong word to describe the ongoing fracas within PKR. And maybe fracas is the wrong word to describe what clearly is amounting to a little more than a mêlée within the party that promised so much and has given little, if anything at all.

PKR’s disarray certainly must be disconcerting to its supporters, many of whom have been deserting it in droves, to those voters who took to the sidelines after the last general election, and to those who would become eligible to vote for the first time by the next poll, in 2012.

For all that, Anwar Ibrahim, the so-called spiritual leader of PKR, who is faced with his own set of personal legal woes, even if these have been politically concocted by his enemies, the ruling UMNO-BN coalition, of which he was once a high-profile member, has been quite curiously mum.

And maybe just as well – so far as UMNO-BN is concerned. Not that the ruling coalition would be worried otherwise, anyway. The fragmentation of PKR, having fallen under the spell of self-inflicted madness, has been deepening over the last 12 months.

And you can bet that UMNO-BN would be enormously gleeful about the growing prospects of regaining its two-thirds majority at the next election.

This is not to say that the 2012 poll will be a sitter for BN. But the more the accusations fly to and back, the more the dissent, suspensions, expulsions, recriminations and flight of leading politicians, the less it will take rocket-science calculations to suggest that UMNO boss and Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak will be sufficiently emboldened to call a snap poll in the first half of next year.

And he will likely take Sarawak to the polls with him, if only to protect that state’s chief minister, Abdul Taib Mahmud, and his ill-gotten wealth, just as Golkar did in protecting the Indonesian dictator and murderer, Suharto, his family and their ill-gotten wealth.

As ugly as PKR’s internal strife has looked, increasingly, it is has been extremely self-destructive. In fact PKR looks headed for calamity of the worst kind of self-annihilation.

The first round of the reformasi movement in the late 1990s had helped galvanise the regime’s opponents across the national political spectrum. It helped to forge PKR as a ‘viable’ political alternative to UMNO-BN. It had the ruling party on the run, seen glaringly by the 2008 poll result.

PKR should have been capitalising more on its popularity by hammering the ruling coalition for its embedded corruption, cronyism, nepotism and incompetence. It could have gone further to expose the out-and-out stupidity of most, if not all of its politicians, the regime’s policy bungles and its unrepentant, barefaced racism.

Instead it left these jobs to just two or three of its key and competent political hands, like Tian Chua and Pakatan Rakyat coalition partner DAP’s Charles Santiago especially, and perhaps Lim Kit Siang and Karpal Singh.

BN regains political momentum

The rest seem rather useless. For the rest have been too busy trying to cement their political positions by way of horse-trading, bitching, bellyaching, sitting on their hands and thinking that, like the UMNO-BN politicians, they too were entitled to equal measures of fame and fortune.

This, meanwhile, has allowed UMNO-BN to regain the political momentum through its usual, nefarious monkeyshines that are born of its long-renowned cowardice.

There’s no second coming now for PKR. The morphing of Reformasi I into its second, more vociferous and effectual reincarnation looks terribly impossible, even if Anwar were to be found guilty – again – for sodomy, and jailed.

Knowing the corruption that is inherent up and down in Malaysia’s ‘justice’ system, as indeed in its armed forces, the police and government, including most likely the cabinet, Anwar’s conviction and imprisonment will neither surprise his supporters nor him.

To that extent it is understandable that Anwar has been massively distracted from strictly running PKR and inspiring the party and its theologians for what it had promised Malaysians, or at least those whose souls the UMNO-BN had not bought like Satan.

Yet Anwar’s political debilitation also speaks volumes of his other serious weaknesses. The indictment he faces today is serious enough. It will almost certainly kill off his political career and ambition permanently.

He has become a lousy political strategist and an ineffectual leader. He has allowed other political leaders within PKR to develop tribalistic motivations and purely selfish intentions that stem, clearly, from the hunger for power and the material spoils of political office. This has now begun to seal PKR’s fate.

It matters still less if the likes of Zaid Ibrahim, either out of despair or desperation, tear themselves away from PKR to form their own opposition political parties. PKR is in tatters, but Zaid’s party , if he forms one, won’t last.

It’ll seriously lack the following required to make a 5 percent dent in the polls to be remotely relevant. And Zaid barely has the charisma that Anwar used to wield.

Fence sitting for disenchanted voters

Moreover, disenchanted supporters and general voters will return to sitting on the fence or, worse, vote for the devil they know than the devils that new parties spawn or the ones that PKR seems to have heralded.

They will vote for the BN coalition despite all the rot the regime has nurtured and protected that goes against the spirit of Negaraku and all other ludicrous, parochialistic tripe, so long as the economy plods on and their jobs are safe.

Therein lies another monumentally serious problem for Anwar and PKR: the sheer absence of any credible, alternative policies – real ones, in a real world, that seriously pursue the national interest, that will seriously challenge the regime at the next poll.

Since its formation, PKR has offered nothing. Rather, it has, at each turn, merely appealed to the basic political instincts and primordial sensibilities of the people. Its politicians, including aspiring ones, have employed parochialism and communalism wherever necessary.

pkr congress 281110 nurul izzah anwarAnd, ironically, it has promised that PKR is more just than the regime could ever be or has ever been.

PKR’s many failures require immediate redress. Its only policy has been MAD – mutually assured destruction. It looks too late for Anwar and PKR. The PKR ship is listing, badly. Salvage crews are deserting the ship.

More and more rank-and-file members are less willing to listen. They’re bailing out, even if Anwar’s eldest daughter, Nurul Izzah, positions herself to take over the party that has lost its way and shredded its promise.

*MANJIT BHATIA is an Australian academic, writer and journalist. He is also research director of AsiaRisk, a risk analysis consultancy. He now divides his life and work between Australia, Britain and the US.

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