Has PKR become irrelevant?


With his latest outburst, Zaid Ibrahim may have put his newfound party, DAP, in a position of discomfort in its relationship with PKR.

Zaid, pointing out that a PKR top gun was seen campaigning with PAS in Kelantan, told the PAS-supporting faction of PKR to “butt out” of Pakatan Harapan. He said: “Maybe someone in Pakatan Harapan can tell PKR Selangor they can go on with PAS/Umno in Selangor and see if they can win.”

But it is important to note that Zaid makes these comments in his personal capacity, not as a DAP representative.

It has been known for some time that there is a pro-PAS faction within PKR that sees the Islamist party as a lifeline to the rural Malay vote. But since PAS’s separation from the opposition coalition, the Islamist party has become a belligerent and divisive force in politics. It has become increasingly entrenched in religious fundamentalism, a situation that led to and was exacerbated by the splitting of Amanah from it.

Abdul Hadi Awang has since steered the party into the willing embrace of Umno, itself looking to branch out into religious fundamentalism as ethno-nationalism was beginning to produce smaller and smaller returns and a bigger backlash.

Now we come to a curious question. Has the party of Anwar Ibrahim become irrelevant? Have the champions of Reformasi become toothless, with the Umno blood flowing in their veins bending to a craven heritage?

Sadly, it does seem that PKR has become by and large irrelevant and perhaps abhorrent to a lot of opposition supporters. For a long time it was seen as the leading party in the opposition camp by virtue of Anwar’s leadership, but nowadays it is scarcely mentioned in coffee shop political discourses. The focal battle for the soul of the Malays is now taken up by Mahathir Mohamad’s PPBM. Even in Selangor, one of the most entrenched pro-opposition states, we hear grumblings of discontent with PKR.

Zaid is right to call out PKR. Pakatan Harapan must stand as a united front, especially now with PPBM in the mix. PAS is not aligned towards Pakatan’s goals. It has proven to be faithless in its quest to achieve its own political goals.

We fear that further association between PKR and PAS will turn a significant portion of the opposition’s voter base away from Anwar’s party and perhaps towards Barisan Nasional.

Scott Ng is an FMT columnist.

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