The Weak Link Is Getting Weaker
Wan Azizah may contest for a state seat in Penang
(The Star) – Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail has hinted she may contest a state seat in her husband Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s Permatang Pauh constituency in the coming general election.
“If I am contesting at state level, I must be a (registered) voter there,” she said at a press conference at the PKR headquarters.
Dr Wan Azizah refused to disclose the constituency she will contest.
DAP: We’ll allocate seats just before polls
(NST) – DAP deputy chairman Dr Tan Seng Giaw said the three Pakatan Rakyat parties will only decide on seat allocation arrangement “just before nomination day”.
“We will have a meeting just before nomination day and our parties will have to come to a consensus.
“It is hard to predict seat allocations now, but we do meet and discuss at the local and state levels,” he said, commenting on a newspaper report that DAP would get to contest up to 90 parliamentary seats this time around.
Pas vice-president Datuk Mahfuz Omar told the New Straits Times when contacted: “If you want to know the number of seats we are contesting, wait till the nomination day.”
Parti Keadilan Rakyat vice-president Tian Chua insisted that the distribution of seats would be close to or similar to the last election.
In the 2008 election, PKR contested 97 parliamentary seats, Pas 66 and DAP 46.
The DAP had since won 12 of the 15 state seats in the Sarawak elections, prompting suggestions that the seat-allocation arrangement may be tweaked.
There are two ‘forces’ that will determine the outcome of the next general election, and hence who will get to form the next federal government. One, of course, would be the Malay heartland and the other would be East Malaysia.
It is not enough that one or the other becomes the kingmaker. It has to be both simultaneously. And unless the group that wants to form the next federal government can win the votes from both the Malay heartland as well as from East Malaysia, then the fight for Putrajaya would be lost.
In the event that the Malay heartland swings one way while East Malaysia swings the other way, then we are going to see a hung parliament with the non-Malays emerging as the kingmaker instead. Hence, unless the group that wants to form the federal government can win the votes from the Malay heartland as well as from East Malaysia, the Chinese and Indians are going to become the third group, the group that will decide whether Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat gets to rule the country at federal level.
Barisan Nasional knows this. It knows that the situation is currently very delicately balanced with no clear winner yet in sight. And that is why they may run a full five-year term before calling for the 13th General Election in March 2013.
Some say that the longer they wait the worse it will be for Barisan Nasional because many more issues will be raised by the opposition, which can only hurt Barisan Nasional even more. But the world has a 100-day memory and after 100 days the issues will be forgotten. Since Pakatan Rakyat has raised all the issues that it could get its hand on and has milked the cow to the maximum, by Christmas all these issues would have become basi (stale) and by March next year they would no longer be that much of an issue.
It makes sense that Barisan Nasional drag the elections until March next year which by then all these issues would no longer be that damaging to the ruling party. In the meantime, Pakatan Rakyat would self-destruct and the new focus would no longer be on the Scorpene submarines or NFC or whatever but on the internal bickering within Pakatan Rakyat and between the parties within Pakatan Rakyat.
Barisan Nasional is aware that not all augurs well for Pakatan Rakyat. Of concern would be the issue of Islam and/or Islamic law. Statements such as PAS supporting Umno’s proposal to implement Hudud in Johor and the segregation of the sexes in cinemas in Selangor are making DAP very nervous. Expect Umno to make many more ‘pro-Islamic’ statements as we go along with the aim of enticing a response from PAS, and which in turn will rub DAP the wrong way.
PKR, DAP and PAS are yet to agree on the seat allocations. In the past, the seat allocation issue has always been resolved on the eve of Nomination Day and for some seats even on the morning of Nomination Day itself. It appears like it is still going to be the same for the coming general election as well, as the news report above shows.
Of course, they can always resolve it by dividing the 222 Parliament seats by three and then each party gets to contest 74 seats. But it is not as easy as that. The seat allocation issue cannot be resolved through a simple arithmetical calculation. They also need to take into consideration which of the three parties has a better chance of winning that particular seat. Then there is also the issue of which candidate has a better chance of winning.
For example, Taman Medan, which is a state seat in Selangor, is a PKR seat. But PAS feels that its candidate has a better chance of winning that seat than the PKR candidate does. So who is going to contest Taman Medan, PAS or PKR? In the past, both PAS and PKR contested that seat in a three-corner fight and both opposition candidates lost to the BN candidate — the PKR candidate even lost his deposit on top of that. So Taman Medan has always been a sore point between PKR and PAS.
If the general elections were to be called today then Pakatan Rakyat would be forced to resolve the seat allocation issue. But by dragging the election until March next year, this just allows time for Pakatan Rakyat to continue quarreling over the seats issue. The more time they have the more they will quarrel. Hence Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak is really not as stupid as many may think he is. He knows that the delay in the general election is going to hurt Pakatan Rakyat even more as the quarrel over seats continue.
Settling the issue of seat allocation and constituencies is just one issue to resolve. But that does not settle the other bigger issue, and that is the list of candidates who are going to contest these seats.
Hence we have three issues to resolve. One would be how to share out the almost 800 State and Parliament seats. Do we just take the total figure and divide it by three? And do we divide it equally or does one party get more seats than the other?
Next, after resolving the issue of the numbers, they now need to resolve the issue of location or constituency. Where are these seats going to be? For example, is PKR or PAS going to contest Taman Medan? Is DAP or PKR going to contest the Port Kelang state seat? And so on. The numbers is one issue. The actual seats are another.
Finally, and the more crucial of the three issues, who are these candidates going to be?
In Barisan Nasional, the first two issues are not that difficult to resolve. Basically, Umno decides and the other members of Barisan Nasional can do very little to oppose this. For example, Umno can decide to give PPP three parliament seats and seven state seats and these seats can come from the MIC ‘quota’. At best MIC can scream but they can do little to stop it from happening.
In Pakatan Rakyat, PKR cannot play the role of Umno and decide who gets to contest where and the number of seats each party gets. Hence it is more complicated in Pakatan Rakyat compared to in Barisan Nasional.
However, whether it is Umno, PKR, DAP or PAS, the issue of candidates overrides the issue of seat allocation. Seat allocation is an inter-party matter. Candidates are an internal party matter. And the person who wants to control the party must also control the candidates.
If Najib feels threatened by his deputy then he must make sure that most, if not all, the candidates are his men. He will have to block his deputy’s candidates. If all those who contest are Najib’s men then Najib may be more secure. But if most of them are Muhyiddin Yassin’s men, then Najib may face the danger of a coup like what happened to Abdullah Ahmad Badawi soon after the 12th general election.
In short, those selected to contest the coming general election must be ‘the President’s men/women’ — or at least the men/women of the person who aspires to become the new party leader. If not then the party leader exposes himself/herself to great risk. Some say that the party elections are even more important than the general elections and that the general elections are merely the foundation to prepare for the party elections.
This is certainly true in Umno. And now it is true for PKR as well.
According to those in PAS, Azmin is lining up his boys and girls as candidates for the next general election. The problem is, while these candidates may be Azmin loyalists who, when asked to jump, will ask, “How high?” they are not the best choice of candidates and lack what is needed to do the job. Post-2008 general election was a disaster for Pakatan Rakyat when some jumped ship and sold out to the other side while others demonstrated a lame brain. Now it appears we are going to see the same thing happen all over again.
The voters this time around are going to be choosier than the last time. The last time they voted for the party come what may. This time they are going to see who the candidates are before giving them their votes.
According to PAS and DAP, if Pakatan Rakyat wins the next general election then Anwar Ibrahim is going to become the Prime Minister, even if PKR wins the least number of seats. This is supposed to be an automatic thing. The question is: is it going to be Anwar because he happens to be the de facto leader of PKR or is it personal to holder? In other words, if Anwar is no longer the de facto leader of PKR would the offer end there or would it be inherited by his successor?
Those in PAS and DAP say that the offer is only to Anwar and not to any successor to Anwar, especially if this successor happens to be Azmin Ali. But Azmin is going to try to prove them wrong. The current sentiment is: we support Anwar not because he is the best but because we have no other choice — there is no clear and suitable successor to Anwar.
But what if there is a successor? Would Anwar then become dispensable in favour of the successor? If Anwar no longer exists then Pakatan Rakyat would have very little choice, just like how they have very little choice now and have to nominate Anwar as their choice of Prime Minister whether they like him or not. Hence Azmin is not worried whether PAS and DAP like him or not. In a situation where there is no alternative they will back him for Prime Minister even if they don’t like him. Isn’t this also the case in Umno and Barisan Nasional?
What happens if PKR ends up with the most number of seats and all those PKR candidates who won are Azmin’s boys and girls? Would Anwar still be nominated as the Prime Minister or could Azmin mount a challenge and do a coup on Anwar? If Azmin’s boys and girls sweep into victory Azmin would be a poor politician if he does not exploit the situation for his own benefit. Why offer his army to Anwar when he can use this army to oust Anwar?
Many in PAS and DAP are sitting back to watch the whole thing unfold with great interest. This is an internal PKR party matter no doubt. And they have agreed that Anwar will become Prime Minister mainly because he is the party leader. But what if Anwar is ousted and Azmin takes over? Where does that leave DAP and PAS? Was the offer of the post of PM personal to Anwar or to Anwar as the PKR party leader? And can Anwar’s successor inherit the post of Prime Minister?
Azmin is a master of distraction. The Gerakan Anti-Faekah (GAF) movement was aimed at ousting Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail’s nominee in the Selangor Menteri Besar’s office. Khalid, no doubt, came to Faekah’s defense because he knows that if they manage to oust her then her replacement would most likely be an Azmin mole. Hence it is to Khalid’s interest to keep the alliance with Wan Azizah alive, much to the chagrin of Azmin’s boys who have grumbled to Anwar about it.
Wan Azizah countered this by announcing that she is probably going to contest a state seat, and this has pissed Azmin off big time. He is beginning to see Wan Azizah and Nurul Izzah as hindrances to his plan to take control of the party. And with them allied to Khalid Ibrahim that makes it even worse.
Azmin wants to have absolute control over the PKR candidates list. He has, in fact, already decided on the list while the proposed candidates have already been told that they would be contesting the election. The candidates he has chosen are Azmin Ali loyalists who would not hesitate to get rid of Anwar, Wan Azizah and Nurul once Azmin is ready to make his move to take over the party. But Wan Azizah is not about to just step aside and play dead without a fight. And over the next few months you are going to see Wan Azizah and Nurul Izzah become more vocal while PAS and DAP cross their fingers and hope that the self-destruction of PKR will not also mean the destruction of Pakatan Rakyat.
Clearly, PKR is the weak link in Pakatan Rakyat that is getting even weaker. And the candidates that are going to be fielded under the PKR banner are not the best brains for the job but sycophants that will do Azmin’s bidding. Chances are the voters may reject many of these candidates giving DAP or PAS the lion’s share of the seats. PKR hopes to emerge the Umno of Pakatan Rakyat. What may happen instead is that PKR may emerge the MIC of Pakatan Rakyat. And did not Anwar say he would retire if they fail to make it? Well, that is even more reason for Azmin to ensure that they do not make it.
By: Raja Petra Kamarudin/ Malaysia Today