Monday, June 23, 2008

Pakatan Rakyat is losing the plot

Pakatan Rakyat is losing the plot
24 June, 2008

The latest controversy involving Yahya Shahri, added to the MIA Port Kelang State Assemblyman, does not augur well for PKR. PKR already has to run twice as fast just to stay in pace with PAS and DAP. Falling behind PAS and DAP certainly does not help PKR one bit.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

Selangor MB’s suspended aide quits

(The Malaysian Insider) – Last night, Yahya Shahri, the suspended special officer to Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, resigned in a huff. Yahya told an impromptu gathering of supporters in Shah Alam that he quit with immediate effect from the MB’s office as well as Selangor secretary of Parti Keadilan Rakyat in reaction to his two-month suspension announced a day earlier.

His reputation is under a cloud following the action taken by the menteri besar to facilitate investigations into alleged corrupt practices by the Anti-Corruption Agency. Khalid said Yahya had been informed of the action through short messaging service in order “spare the officer the shock when the (suspension) letter is delivered".

Obviously, Yahya is unhappy with his suspension, declaring that he had lost confidence in the menteri besar. He also called for Khalid to step down as the PKR boss for Selangor and wants party advisor Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to take over. He told Malaysiakini that he would be meeting Anwar this afternoon after speaking to and conveying his quit decision to PKR president and Anwar’s wife Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail yesterday.

Khalid had told reporters the decision to suspend Yahya was made following allegations of improper conduct. Yahya was said to have issued recommendations for four companies to obtain contracts from local authorities in Selangor. The Selangor MB explained that he had to maintain transparency and integrity in agreement with PKR’s partners in Pakatan Rakyat – PAS and DAP.

"We are sincere. We want to do it right. If the officer is not guilty, he will be called back to work. We will take appropriate action if the officer is found guilty," he added. He had instructed his political secretary to obtain more information from PKR members who made the allegations.

Yahya's supporters had gathered in protest against the suspension at Khalid's official Shah Alam residence yesterday but left after a short while, proceeding to Yahya's house also in Shah Alam.


There appears to be a lot of grumblings and unhappiness in the way PKR is managing things. This is a far departure from the way PAS is running Perak or DAP, Penang, which has received mostly praises. From Day One, many sceptics have expressed reservations about PKR and Tan Sri Khalid. They point out to the fact that PKR has inherited ‘Umno culture’ while Khalid, ‘a product of Umno cronyism’, has a lot of ‘baggage’ to his name.

Of course, there are many ex-Umno personalities in PKR, Anwar Ibrahim included. But PKR is not all ex-Umno, I would argue in reply to the critics. And Khalid may be a product of Umno cronyism during his corporate days. But we must not judge him by his Umno past. We have to look at his present track record to come to a conclusion as to whether he has shed his ‘evil ways’ or whether the old habits are still very strongly entrenched in the way he does things.

While no one appears to have any misgivings about the PAS or DAP Chief Minister/Menteri Besar or State EXCO Members, the jury is out on the PKR crowd. People would rather treat the PKR personalities with suspect until they prove themselves otherwise. In other words, they are assumed guilty until proven innocent. And this is most unfortunate indeed because there are many PKR Members of Parliament, State Assemblymen and office bearers who are not only NOT ex-Umno but are sincerely doing a good job, if not comparable, better than the PAS and DAP people -- in particular the women of PKR who not only work hard but have gone through a lot of sacrifices in pursuit of their ideals.

But is there not a Malay proverb that goes: one buffalo brings mud and the entire herd gets muddy? So all it needs is one muddy buffalo to muddy the entire herd. And this is the dilemma facing PKR. And the actions of people such as the PKR State Assemblyman for Port Kelang only adds fuel to the fire and make things worse.

This particular PKR State Assemblyman from Port Kelang is MIA (missing in action). He has of course been seen all over the place but it is mostly when he is frolicking with the Umno people, eating and drinking at various expensive restaurants. While the DAP Member of Parliament for Port Kelang, Charles Santiago, and the DAP State Assemblyman for Pandamaran (also under the Port Kelang Parliamentary constituency), Ronnie Liu, work they butts off, the PKR State Assemblyman for Port Kelang parties with Umno people all night long.

Yes, one PKR buffalo from Port Kelang muddies the entire PKR herd of buffaloes. Never mind that the other 30 PKR Selangor buffaloes are clean and are doing a great job. It is what this one delinquent buffalo does that gets noticed, not what the other 30 good buffaloes do that matters.

And this is what PKR must guard against. As it stands now, public opinion is not in PKR’s favour. It has to work doubly-hard and stay doubly-clean compared to PAS and DAP. In spite of that, people will still look at PKR with suspicion in their eyes and reservations in their hearts. And one muddy buffalo is all it needs for people to say, “Ah, I told you, the PKR people are all crooks!”

The latest controversy involving Yahya Shahri, added to the MIA Port Kelang State Assemblyman, does not augur well for PKR. PKR already has to run twice as fast just to stay in pace with PAS and DAP. Falling behind PAS and DAP certainly does not help PKR one bit.

And why has the Port Kelang State Assemblyman not been taken to task? And why must Yahya resign in protest and instigate his supporters to demonstrate? Yahya should have welcomed the move to suspend him for two months until his name is cleared. This will give an impression that he is not taking things personally and has nothing to hide and that he only has the interest of the party’s image at heart. Now it appears like he only cares about himself and not about the party, like a true ex-Umno person.

Khalid, too, appears to be running around in circles. He makes snap announcements in a popularity exercise and then retracts them later when he discovers that it can’t be done after all due to legislation limitations or contractual obligations. This only strengthens the perception that PKR has absolutely no experience in running governments and that their policies are not thought through carefully before the announcements are made. Are a bunch of amateurs in charge of the Selangor government? We would like to believe not, but it is getting harder and harder to believe that this is not so.

PAS is also compounding the problem. They forget that they are just a member of the opposition coalition, Pakatan Rakyat, and are not the federal government or the absolute government in the states, in particular Selangor. What’s with this protest against the ‘sexy’ singers? If aurat is such a big issue, then they should also protest against the football match. The 22 footballers will be wearing shorts, which means that their aurat is uncovered. Why protest against two female singers who reveal too much flesh but ignore the 22 male footballers who also reveal too much?

It appears like these PAS people are discriminating against women. If women reveal too much flesh, then PAS gets all excited. But men are allowed to violate the Islamic rule by revealing too much flesh. That is not a problem. Should not rules apply to everyone, men as well as women? Why are only women targeted for reprisals whereas men get away with whatever they want to do?

Two days ago, a policeman at Putra Heights raped an underage girl. The girl was not sexily dressed. She was not even a criminal but a mere pillion rider. But she was detained and taken to the police station and raped. Why has PAS kept silent on this matter? Where is that massive demonstration to protest police officers raping underage girls? Is fighting with the Sultan of Selangor over whether female singers not dressed like Arabian Bedouins should be permitted to sing in public more important than an underage girl being raped by a policeman?

And all this talk about Islamising the country is frightening the voters. Pakatan Rakyat did not come into office because of just PAS members’ votes. Many non-PAS members -- Malays, Chinese and Indians included -- voted for Pakatan Rakyat. But they did not vote in favour of an Islamic State. They voted in favour of seeing a strong opposition and possibly a two-party system finally emerging in Malaysia after 51 years of Umno domination.

Yes, the voters voted in favour of Pakatan Rakyat, not in favour of PAS. PAS just happens to be a member of Pakatan Rakyat, that’s all. So PAS must do things with the interest of Pakatan Rakyat at heart, not in the interest of its own party. Is this something so hard to understand? Five years is not that long. See what happened in 2004 compared to 1999. 2012/2013 may see a reversal of the 2008 success just like 2004 was the reversal of 1999 if PAS and PKR are not careful. And thus far PAS and PKR have not offered the voters any reason to vote them back into office come the next election.

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