Malaysia's strongest opposition alliance of all time has never been so divided. The need of the hour is unity to face the 15th general election, which can be held at any time. Already many approaches have been made such as 'Big tent' and " Ayuh Malaysia'.
A third opposition force too had been suggested. I would suggest a 'one last time 'approach. Just look at the pantheon of Opposition leaders.
Does it not inspire confidence and enthusiasm in the people to vote for the opposition?
Most importantly all the parties and politicians opposed to Umno and BN need to come together one last time to save the nation from heading towards a self-destructive course.
All the opposition parties - PKR, DAP, Bersatu, Muda, Amanah, PAS, Warisan, Pejuang , PSM, Gerak Independent- need to put aside their vengeance, prejudices, animosities, distrust and even jealousies to forge a united opposition that can repeat the success of 2018.
Many leaders and parties have misgivings about some politicians and parties based on what happened in the last 4 years or more.
Forgive and forget what happened in the past. Past is past. Use all the failures and misgivings and other negative happenings as a springboard to strike a new understanding and goodwill, and malice towards none.
This is the need of the hour. It now rests on a strong opposition winning the 15th general election to avoid Malaysia becoming a failed state to the detriment of all citizens.
Dr Mahathir Mohamad as the senior-most leader must call for a meeting if possible during the Hari Raya festivities to bring together all the parties and senior leaders and thrash out an agreement whereby all will cooperate to face the 15th general election.
There will surely be many misgivings against such cooperation by a few leaders bearing in mind the bitter experience of the last few years. Already there is strong opposition from DAP secretary-general Anthony Loke about including Bersatu and Pas, whereas PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution Ismail and Amanah's Salahuddin Ayub welcome all those who want to join the opposition bloc.
However, for the sake of the country please come together. This is the best golden opportunity you will ever have in decades.
Many of the senior opposition leaders will retire after this election. It is time to use them one last time. Remember it took 60 years for the opposition to defeat BN.
Are you leaders going to hand over this onerous task to the younger generation to wait so long.? Just look at the list of leaders of a prospective united opposition - Mahathir, Anwar Ibrahim, Rafizi Ramli , Saifuddin, Nurul Izzah, Lim Kit Siang, Lim Guan Eng, P. Ramasamy, Liew Chin Tong, Mohd Sabu, Khalid Abdul Samad, Syed Saddiq, Siti Kassim, Gobind Singh, Charles Santiago, R Sivarasa, Dr Michael Jeyakumar, Abdul Hadi Awang. Anthony Loke, Muhyiddin Yassin, Azmin Ali, Zuraidah Kamaruddin, Hannah Yeoh, Wan Azizah Wan Ismail , Mukhriz Mahathir and others.
Does Umno or Barisan have such a strong line-up of leaders? Umno is not what it was a few decades ago when it had capable and competent leaders.
Leaders have become self-serving
True, Umno had done more for the Malays than what the MCA did for the Chinese or the MIC for the Indians. This is not the case anymore as in the last few decades most of the leaders have become self-serving and using and exploiting the gullible and pliable Malay community for their own ends. Presently the majority of the urban poor are Malays, so much for the New Economic Policy!
I feel that Saifuddin Has the right spirit to bring about a winning formula in welcoming all parties to join the coalition. All parties big and small and even NGOs need to be roped in. For some parties, there is no need to offer electoral seats and they can be offered some positions in the administration based on their capability after the victory.
Anthony Loke's stance is more of a defeatist attitude and as the head of the powerful DAP he fails to see the possible reality post the 15th general election. It is no point licking the wounds after a resounding defeat. In the next general election, Malaysian voters are going to choose political stability as they have seen that in the last four years there have been three prime ministers and the country has been riddled with instability and indecision almost every day.
The voters will look for a strong party that can provide stability. In the present scenario with a fractured opposition, Umno and BN will win hands down to form the next government. This may not be the case if all the opposition parties are united and present a powerful alternative in which case voters will look at it favourably and choose Pakatan Harapan.
The voters know very well that when it comes to reforms, changes, transparency, accountability and good governance the opposition is the better option.
A third force
These are the values that the nations need to espouse now and always. If the opposition is disunited, possibly a third force could enter the fray and this will split the opposition votes even more. The millions of new young voters, though unpredictable at best, are change-oriented due to their age as compared to the majority of mature voters who place a premium on stability.
A united opposition through a program of reforms and stability can win over both groups of voters. United opposition will fire the imagination of voters and increase the voter percentage that will benefit them the most.
Pas, Bersatu, GPS and Warisan have to be in the opposition coalition as each has its own parliamentary strength. PAS is strongest in Kelantan Terengganu and Kedah- part of the Malay heartland- and could bag about 10-20 parliamentary seats, which will be valuable for the opposition. PAS has learnt a good lesson as it now knowns that Umno is a fair-weather friend.
Umno needed PAS when it was weak but shoved it aside when Umno became dominant again. The latest ‘Pas leaks’ episode is sure to sour ties further between the Muafakat Nasional parties to a point of no return.
Harapan should grab this opportunity to rope in Pas into the opposition coalition. One should not forget PAS contributions to the Bersih campaigns and the fact that PAS was with the Pakatan Rakyat previously. Problems will arise due to differences but they can be settled amicably. PAS is important for the opposition.
Concessions need to be made
Warisan and GPS can win a few parliamentary seats in Sabah and Sarawak respectively. All the parties need to agree that Anwar Ibrahim should be the prime ministerial candidate. For this, some concessions need to be made. If the opposition coalitions win, a council of elders to advise the government can be set up.
Mahathir, Hadi , Lim Kit Siang, Muhyiddin Yassin and Penang deputy chief minister Ramasamy could be the members. For Mahathir it will be an honour to serve the nation again and get back into the good books of the people.
It will also be a privilege to have Lim Kit Siang in the Council and he should be accorded a Tun-ship for his per perseverance for a 'Malaysian' Malaysia. Haji Hadi Awang can be the nation's Islamic representative in the Council just like Ramasamy would be representing the Indians.
Former prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin is still harbouring hopes of becoming prime minister again. He needs to re-think this.
He had his chance and he was the prime minister during one of the most difficult times of the nation - the pandemic and the lockdowns. He did his best and we remember him for the economic stimulus packages that kept the country going. He needs to give way to Anwar.
It was Anwar who galvanised the opposition and together with the Reformasi, Bersih and Hindraf campaigns brought the opposition to the fore as never before. Despite some mistakes and shortcomings resulting from over-zealousness to be prime minister, Anwar is still the best hope for Malaysia.
The 15th general election could be his last opportunity as age is catching up and chances are slipping away.
Anwar also needs to ensure that next month's PKR party elections do not create factionalism, problems and enmity as it did before.
Fate of the country
The 15th general election will be very crucial in deciding not only the fate of the opposition parties but also the country. For quite some time now Malaysia has been moving in the wrong direction and it is time to make a U-turn.
Abuse of power and corruption is at their worst. The legal and judicial systems are now mired in controversies and compromises. Nowadays even the private sector has taken the cue from the civil servants and becoming more prone to graft. The government-linked companies (GLCs) are mismanaged and incurring losses in the billions.
The salaries of the chief executive officers of these loss-making entities are ridiculously high. Defence procurement losses are running into the billions The pandemic has increased the hardship of the people and one can observe this when millions have applied for the RM 10,000 withdrawal from the EPF.
The cost of living is shooting up. The country needs to be managed efficiently to control wastefulness, and extravagance and ensure transparency and accountability. Good governance can only be brought about, it appears now through the political will of a new administration if the opposition comes to power.
Economic and legislative reforms are urgently needed to enable the country to be in an advantageous position post- Covid. Affirmative Action programmes for all needy Malaysians should be initiated. Attractive incentives for investment need to be implemented as FDIs have been slackening.
The country cannot go on sustaining massive losses, corrupt practices, siphoning of funds, leakages, bail-outs and hand-outs indefinitely. If not for Malaysia being a resourceful nation with a resilient private sector, the country could have even preceded Sri Lanka as a failed state.
Opposition needs to be ready
It is time for patriotic Malaysians and political leaders to help out in any way they can. The 15th general election provides a good avenue to take the right steps.
The opposition needs to be ready for it as the dissolution of Parliament can happen any time now when it favours Umno. The opposition should use this advantage of knowing the possible timing of the dissolution of parliament to forge a strong and united coalition comprising all parties.
Umno and BN are upbeat about winning the 15th general election based on recent state elections, and that is the reason why Umno has no need for Pas or Bersatu anymore. A united Harapan coalition, on the other hand, could have more advantages than Umno, and the 15th general election will be theirs to lose!
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.