How the opposition can win the next elections

– Koon Yew Yin
The Malaysian Insider
30 November 2015

By now it is clear that the 1MDB financial scandal, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s campaign against Datuk Seri Najib Razak, GST pain and numerous examples of corruption, abuse and mismanagement of the economy and governance, are not going to win the next election for the opposition coalition.

This is not to say that we should underestimate the average Malaysian’s disillusionment with, and distrust of, Umno and its partner parties in Barisan Nasional (BN).

Even the most simpleton Umno member is fully aware of how the division chiefs have enriched themselves with fat contracts, scholarships for their children, jobs in the civil service for their relatives and friends, etc.

Umno members are no fools. They know that the higher one gets to be in the Umno leadership hierarchy, the more the goodies and wealth they can accumulate.
So they are not surprised that RM2.6 billion was deposited in Najib’s personal account.

Many of the more ethical and principled Umno members agree that this is wrong. But will this mean that they will not vote for Umno in the next election?

I hope they listen to their conscience and I am sure many other Malaysians will join me in wishing the same.

But hope is not enough.

What will win the next general election is not Umno leaders and members such as Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Dr Mahathir turning against or forsaking the party and voting for the opposition.

Nor will it be the public anger, disgust and revulsion against the present government that alone can be enough to bring Umno and BN down.

What will win the elections is a strong, solid and unified opposition. This is such a no-brainer that one would have thought that all the parties in the opposition, especially the more progressive DAP and PKR, would make this the first of the five or 10 commandments that they agree to.

However, recent events give the impression that this pre-condition of opposition electoral success has either been forgotten or sidelined.

Hence it is reassuring to know that this is the main message that has emerged from the recent PKR congress.

Common sense and history tell us that without a unified opposition and especially whenever three or more cornered fights take place in any election in Malaysia, BN is invariably the winner.

We know that even before the election proper, gerrymandering has already given the BN candidate, especially in rural areas, a head start.

This BN advantage will become impossible to overcome should there be two or three candidates from the opposition taking on a BN candidate.

The other major message from the PKR congress, that it will work to ensure only two-way fights take place during the next election, is very assuring to those of us who want to see change, or at least the continuation of a strong opposition to provide check and balance in our political system.

The possibility of three or more cornered fights is strongest in East Malaysia where the opposition parties have been bickering openly as well as stabbing each other in the back.

The latest recruit into PKR’s leadership ranks, Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, who has been given the job of mediating and resolving the competing seat claims of PKR and DAP in the coming Sarawak state elections, has a big challenge in front of him.

But if he is successful and the opposition goes into the state elections as a unified coalition, this can be the game changer for politics not only in Sarawak but for the entire country.

I also hope that Saifuddin can use his mediation skills in ensuring that most PAS grassroots members will remain within the opposition fold, although PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Awang Hadi appears bent on pursuing some kind of electoral pact with Umno.

I and others have written to express our support for the new Islamic grouping under Parti Amanah Negara. However, it is clear that Pakatan will need the support of both factions of the old and new PAS if it is to overcome Umno in the vote count.

There is a saying that politics is not the art of the possible but of making the impossible, possible.

We should also remind PAS that if it wants to remain a viable political force in Malaysia or at least in Kelantan, it will need to avoid three-cornerned fights which will end up with Umno being the big winner.

It will be up to Saifuddin and other PKR leaders to make the impossible, possible. – November 30, 2015.

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