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Does Pakatan have what it takes?

 | July 30, 2012

The writer does not think so, and feels that the coalition should learn to be a better opposition before it tries for Putrajaya.

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If the conditions are right, anybody can win a war.

All an army has to do is make sure its ranks are disciplined, the economy is bad, your opponents are weakened, their excesses open for all to see and for public support to be on your side.

In many respects, a political party is just like an army, and an election a war. And in Malaysia today, there are two political armies preparing for what may be the fight of their lives.

Now, winning an election is the easy part. Just have all the right cards, and the chips are yours. The hard part, however, is cashing in after the game is done.

The question that everyone wants to know, is not whether Pakatan Rakyat can win the general election or not, but whether it can rule as the federal government.

Many of you strongly believe that the opposition can run the country, and do it better than Barisan Nasional. I don’t blame you.

Decades of having the same people in power can wear tiresomely on some, especially when other countries can change their governments like underwear, without a worry of soiling themselves.

Sorry to disappoint you here, but I don’t think Pakatan has what it takes. Yet.

For starters, let’s take a look at the coalition itself, which at this point, still does not have an official shadow cabinet. A column and an anonymous MP’s comments do not count.

The lack of a shadow cabinet means that instead of having resident experts, you have the usual suspects making as much noise as possible every time an issue pops up.

Buku Jingo

In the UK, if an education issue came about, the shadow minister would respond to it, and say how best he or she would go about it, answering it to the best of their ability.

But where is our Shadow Works, Rural, Environment, Law, Transport or even Deputy Prime Minister?

Here, only the most vocal MPs jump on issues, making them seem like experts on everything, while everyone else is either not interested or is keeping a low-profile.

Secondly, the opposition seems to be unable to come up with policies of its own, unless it involves some things such as the Internal Security Act or massing in public.

But what about the more “important” stuff, like handling the economy? Has it talked about finance regulation or handling China and the United States?

What does it intend to do about baby dumping, or eradicating poverty? How does it plan to settle racial or religious tensions, of which a dialogue is sorely needed in this country?

Some of you will say, what about the opposition’s masterplan, the Buku Jingga? Few, if any BN politicians or experts have regarded that manifesto with any seriousness.

Most of them would mockingly refer to it as “Buku Jenga” or “Buku Jingo” with a smirk, brushing it aside with a scoff.

If the BN politicians were afraid of the book – or the alternative budgets for that matter – some of them would have a grudging respect for it, not this blatant lack of disregard.

Making promises are very easy for politicians to do, but coming up with a real solution to the country’s problems? A whole other matter.

Whiter than white

Faced against an unfriendly media and civil service, the opposition has to be whiter than white. It has to preach good values and practise them.

But this is not always the case, as we’ve seen in the Pakatan state governments, such as the sand mining fiasco, the alleged logging in Kedah and so on and so forth.

The spillage of infighting is also a problem, and sometimes you wonder why their leaders allow their internal problems to affect government matters.

Next off, let’s look at its leader Anwar Ibrahim. The man has earned something of a reputation since his release from prison in 2004.

Though charismatic, Anwar can sometimes seem indecisive especially when it comes to the opposition, such as the perceived spats between PAS and DAP.

It doesn’t help that he appears to be shopping for politicians in the very state that many say he was responsible for its political fall in 1994.

It’s also not easy to do away with the spectre of Sept 16 federal takeover attempt.

The claim that he was involved in a sex scandal, also has not helped the budding premier’s chances.

Lastly, a lot of Pakatan’s successes seem to be hinging on BN’s failures.

If the BN gets something wrong, or has poorly handled an issue, you can bet Pakatan will be all over it.

There’s nothing wrong with this. A smart politician will use his opponent’s weakness against him.

But let’s say BN got its act together, kept their excesses in check, talked about its problems and didn’t shoot itself in the foot doing so. If it did, Pakatan would disappear tomorrow and Najib Tun Razak will reign forever.

The conclusion? Pakatan does not have the ability to lead the country just yet.

At this point, a lot of you will scream and curse the writer for being a BN stooge. Now, I am not against the idea of an opposition. In fact, many of those in the BN want a strong check-and-balance, an opponent they can spar with and call worthy.

Let Pakatan run a few state governments over the next term, and let them run it well. Come up with good policies, cut the mismanagement, focus on being a true power, and have your politicians act like statesmen (or stateswomen) for goodness sake.

Do these things, and victory will take care of itself. Otherwise, it will end up in a mess, like how the US tried to handle Iraq after de-Ba’athification.

If Pakatan doesn’t get it right, it will never lead.


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