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Harapan squabbling bad optics but it won’t sway supporters

“Voters thereby prove themselves bad and indeed corrupt judges of such issues and often they even prove themselves bad judges of their own long-run interests, for it is only the short-run promise that tells politically and only short-run rationality that asserts itself effectively.”

― Joseph Alois Schumpeter, ‘Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy’

COMMENT | PKR president Wan Azizah Wan Ismail is right when she says that the squabbling for seats in Pakatan Harapan is temper tantrums thrown by spoilt children.

Well, she was more pleasant about it, but really mine is a fair interpretation. She need not worry though because while press reports on these squabbling are bad optics, it will not dissuade hardcore Harapan supporters - is there any other kind? - from supporting any candidate Harapan belches out.

Admittedly, Selangor Menteri Besar Azmin Ali claiming that he had no knowledge of the candidates' list before the big reveal by Harapan big shots was dodgy and furthered the narrative that it was amateur hour at PKR HQ, not to mention it had a whiff of mala fide.

Also the tears flowing at the press conference of Rawang assemblyperson Gan Pei Nei was self-defeating as was Batu incumbent parliamentarian Tian Chua’s rejoinder to whoever to be careful.

While all of this may earn the scorn but not rejection of the Harapan faithful, undecided voters may think that sticking with the establishment may seem a better idea since Harapan projects itself as an organisation which could not organise, so to speak, an orgy in a brothel.

Like former Bersih co-coordinator Ambiga Sreenevasan, I too received far too many phone calls about PKR’s public spats but none of the phone calls, although filled with complaints, acknowledged that this would not dissuade them from voting Harapan.

Harapan has framed the narrative that this is a do-or-die election for Malaysia, hence supporters are naturally inclined to believe that any choice beyond what Umno/BN is offering spells doom for this country. What some people do not seem to understand is that if the opposition political operatives really believed that this is a do-or-die election, political operatives from the opposition would not be squabbling for safe seats.

As with all politicians, what they value is their political careers and political life after these "do or die" elections. While some supporters believe that it is the end of the world if their candidates do not win, professional politicians understand that there is always a new round of the game. What is important is that they remain in the game.

This is why this idea of “safe seats” should be the most insulting idea for voters. “Safe” actually means that voters are so predictable or gullible that the political career of the political operative is safe. It is about identity politics sure, but it also demonstrates something deeper. Something rotten in a political system that allows politicians job security...

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