Pakatan Harapan leaders should be wary of insulting Malaysia’s newest kid on the political block if they are hoping for straight fights with Barisan Nasional.
PAS and Parti Ikatan Bangsa Malaysia did not get any warm welcome from Parti Amanah Negara’s Hanipa Maidin and DAP’s Lim Kit Siang when they announced that they had formed an alliance to become the “third force” in Malaysian politics.
Hanipa, who used the PAS ticket to win his Sepang seat in 2013, described the new coalition as a “pointless alliance.” He expressed confidence that the public’s support would remain with Pakatan.
Lim referred to PAS and Ikatan as “zero” parties. “Zero plus zero is zero,” he said.
Perhaps these two should not be too hasty in running down the new alliance.
Hanipah has to realise that Amanah itself has yet to prove its credentials. It may have taken PAS’s place in Pakatan, but this doesn’t mean that it can take away the Islamist party’s votes, especially in the rural areas.
And Lim should remember that PKR, its other and more significant Pakatan ally, in no way sees PAS as a “zero” party. Its secretary-general, Rafizi Ramli, warned not too long ago that Pakatan could not wrest Putrajaya from BN without an electoral pact with PAS.
More recently, PKR Deputy President Azmin Ali voiced hope that consensus could be reached between opposition parties to ensure straight fights against BN in the coming general election.
It remains to be seen where the PAS-Ikatan alliance will go from here or how it will fare in the next election, but while it seems unlikely that it will be a big hit, it can surely dent Pakatan’s ambition by causing splits in opposition votes.
Even if this alliance’s only purpose is to split votes, as some have suggested, Pakatan should be focussing its rhetoric on trying to convince voters that it is a better alternative to BN instead of belittling another coalition. Pakatan certainly does not need more enemies.
Pakatan leaders should be doing all they can to prevent multi-corner fights. Greeting the new alliance with insults is surely not the smartest way to go about it, especially since PAS alone boasts a membership of more than 1.6 million, which is far from zero.