Archive for January 23rd, 2008

DAP-PKR seats talks too slow – must be wrapped up by end-Jan as polls in 40 days

Sin Chew Daily today reported that Parliament would be dissolved on the eighth day of the Chinese New Year (i.e. 14th February 2008), with Nomination Day immediately after Chap Goh Mei (21st February) and polling on 2nd or 3rd March, 2008.

The probability of the next general election falling in the first weekend of March is very high, which would mean that a new Parliament could be elected within 40 days!

Earlier, speculation of the next general election focused primarily on March 15 or the weekend before it. However the option of March 15 for the next general election will have to be ruled out if the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is serious about his announcement in Spain last week for the First Alliance of Civilisations Annual Forum that he would be in Senegal in March to hand over the chairmanship of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC). This is because the OIC Summit is fixed for March 13-14, 2008 for Dakar, Senegal.

With the 12th general election falling right smack during the Chinese New Year, all political parties, leaders and members will have very little time to celebrate Chinese New Year this year, which begins in a fortnight’s time.

I am very disappointed that there had been agonizingly little progress in the DAP-PKR talks for an electoral understanding to ensure a one-to-one contest with the Barisan Nasional, avoiding three-cornered fights which can only benefit the Barisan Nasional in the past two weeks.

Both parties had reached an electoral understanding on January 7, 2008 on the allocation of parliamentary and state assembly seats in Penang, which was announced in a joint media conference by leaders from both parties in Penang on 9th January 2008.

Leaders of both parties had hoped that the Penang agreement would act as a catalyst for the speedy conclusion of seats negotiations for all states in the country so that all energies and resources could be focused single-mindedly in cutting down the Barisan Nasional behemoth with its 91% parliamentary majority down to size in the next general election.

But this has not been the case, as precious little progress had been achieved in the other states in the past two weeks since the Penang agreement apart from Negri Sembilan.

Even for Negri Sembilan, where the state DAP and PKR announced agreement yesterday to take on the Barisan Nasional in straight fights, the announcement was only confined to the state assembly seats although agreement had earlier been reached by both state leaderships for parliamentary and state assembly contests as well. However, as a result of national PKR intervention, the announcement on DAP-PKR pact in Negri Sembilan was only confined to state assembly seats leaving the parliamentary seats unsettled.

I am particularly disappointed at the agonizingly slow progress in DAP-PKR seats negotiations for I had stuck my neck out to break the stalemate to ensure that the DAP-PKR electoral agreement for Penang was reached on January 7, although DAP was subsequently accused of compromising its position and yielding to PKR pressures.

Such accusation from Barisan Nasional parties and personalities are to be expected, but there are also PKR claims of this nature, like SMS which immediately made the rounds after the announcement of the DAP-PKR electoral understanding for Penang that it was achieved after public threats by a certain PKR leader.

Perak was meant to be the next state for an electoral agreement to be reached after Penang but the differences between the two state parties seem to be as wide as ever, with even the PKR National Vice President publicly reiterating PKR interest to contest in Ipoh Timur parliamentary seat.

I find such lack of progress most disappointing. By now, all parties should be making their final plans for the general election battle which will be over in 40 days – and not still bogged down by seats negotiations.

For instance, PKR should be helping the DAP in its plans to wrest another three parliamentary seats from the Barisan Nasional in Perak namely Bruas, Taiping and Teluk Intan instead of publicly laying claim to these and other seats which are the focus of DAP efforts in the coming general election, including Ipoh Timur.

Let me try to resolve the DAP-PKR logjam in the electoral talks in Perak. If Perak PKR leaders are so insistent in wanting to contest in Ipoh Timur, let there be an agreement where a three-cornered fight is allowed for Ipoh Timur involving DAP: and PKR provided full agreement on a one-to-one fight against the Barisan Nasional for all other parliamentary and state assembly seats is immediately reached for Perak.

There is no more time to lose. I will go one step further and call for full conclusion of the DAP-PKR talks on electoral agreement for all states by the end of January, i.e. in a week’s time.

If general election is held by the first weekend of March, there are only some 30 days left to fight the 12th general election.

Let 31st January 2008 be the deadline for the conclusion of the electoral talks between DAP and PKR. I hope both parties can reach an electoral understanding for a one-to-one contest against the Barisan Nasional in the forthcoming general election, but if we cannot reach agreement, then let this be decided and known instead of dragging it out indefinitely, which will not serve the cause of cutting the Barisan Nasional behemoth down to size in the 12th general election.