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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Time yet for consensus to prevail - for MB's exit


COMMENT A week is a long time in politics, former British prime minister Harold Wilson famously remarked.

It's less than a fortnight to the PAS central committee meeting that will finalise the party's stance on the move to remove Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim.

Wilson's musing on the passage of time on political events was to point up its effect as a solvent rather more than as coagulant.

Time, as the wily survivor of many daunting wrangles in a faction-ridden British Labour Party in the 1960s was saying, has a bracing effect on political stances that at the outset may look more likely to bring disaster than relief.

Time's solvent effect was perhaps the consideration behind PKR adviser Anwar Ibrahim's statement of confidence the other day that the consensus-forging process within Pakatan Rakyat would prevail over the centrifugal forces let loose in the opposition coalition by the divisive matter of Khalid's removal.

His ouster is desired by PKR and backed by DAP. The upper bracket of leadership of their Pakatan ally, PAS, has demurred though significant players in the Islamist party's penultimate tier assented to Khalid's removal.

It looks like a fearful wrangle, but this is just the sort of twister that democratic politics exists to resolve, with its deliberative wheels of consultation and debate, all of which thrive on the attenuation from first - and often unreliable - impulses provided by the passage of time.

First - and inevitably, destructive - impulses were on display in the debate in social media on the options open to the party as a result of the fallout from the Khalid issue.

The discussion on WhatsApp among some PAS central committee members, a snapshot of which was posted by this web news portal, exhibited the strengths and drawbacks of this promethean tool called social media.  

Social media is useful for galvanising action towards constructive ends. By the same token it an easy vent for the impulsive and the rash.

The latter feature is not healthy when vexed issues are being deliberated. For counsel to be wise cool detachment from the madding crowd is vital.            

Pakatan will be blown to vanishing if fraught issues, whose causes have not been adequately ventilated in advance, are left like washing hung out to dry on an extremely windy day.

'Paint him into a corner'

Khalid's moral transgressions implied in the deal that settled his long standing dispute with Bank Islam over the Guthrie shares he purchased with a loan from the bank quickly became obvious to insiders but not to initiates.

Subsequent to the deal, the alacrity with which the water agreement between the Selangor state government and the federal’s was signed was unseemly.

The water agreement, like Khalid's dispute with Bank Islam, had been long held up. Both issues' sudden and expeditious settlement had the odor of the illicit.

Worse, the green light he appears to want to give to the Kinrara-Damansara (Kidex) highway project was a violation of the Pakatan promise before GE13 that there would be no more tolled roads in Selangor.

This series of misdemeanors is serious enough to get him indicted in the bar of informed public opinion in Selangor.

But, save for the Kidex highway, most people find the issues connected to the water agreement opaque and are unaware of the facts behind the banking deal.

But as matters such as his loss in the PKR divisional polls and his almost certain defeat in the race for deputy president of the party make clear that he is not exactly popular, the clamour for his exit as MB mounted in tandem with his shameless public resistance to the notion.

It needs now, in the intervening period before the PAS central committee meets, for light to be shed on the dubiousness of Khalid's deal with Bank Islam for him to be painted into a corner.

It's a corner out of which not even the most powerful personages in PAS can credibly bail him out.

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