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The opposition front may be new, but the struggle is not

Mohamad Sabu  |  Published:  |  Modified:

COMMENT | All legitimate opposition movements are governments-in-waiting.

It does not mean the opposition will automatically become the government when the prime minister and his cabinet fail.

But it does mean the opposition carries the policy knowledge, parliamentary insight, and potentially, the majority to replace the government that is no longer popular.

Each Malaysian opposition front is new, but the struggle is not.

Be it Barisan Alternatif, Gagasan Perpaduan Rakyat, Pakatan Rakyat, or of late, Pakatan Harapan, all have sought to replace the BN coalition.

But in their attempt to replace the behemoth that is the BN, the opposition front has often made tactical rather than strategic alliance.

In a tactical alliance, the principle of self-sacrifice is not taken seriously. Each party tries to maximise its advantage in the front, as was the case with PAS under president Abdul Hadi Awang.

Instead of focusing on the endemic corruption of BN under Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, Hadi chose to overlook it. Invariably, Umno and PAS found themselves in a serious embrace.

In turn, Hadi was rewarded by Najib with an accommodating stance on syariah, thus, ensuring the loyalty of the local and parochial base of Hadi in PAS in exchange.

Thus, instead of challenging the grand corruption of BN once and for all - a strategic alliance that would have ensured the absolute defeat of BN even before there was the 14th general election - Hadi and PAS chose to coddle and protect Najib and Umno.

The results are obvious to all: Amanah has had to form.a splinter group to close ranks with Pakatan Harapan. Amanah still needs more members to support it, ideally with actual votes come the next general election.

With six MPs at its helm, it is the hope of Amanah that it can triple or quadruple the number of parliamentary seats which it currently holds.

To be sure, a 300 percent or 400 percent improvement is often unheard of. Not without a doubt, Amanah is facing a mountain to climb.

But there are 54 mixed marginal seats that were won and lost in the last election in 2018.

A decent chance for Amanah if...

If Amanah works on these seats and focuses on wresting them back from BN, Amanah stands a decent chance of being a major electoral contender, both before the 14th general election and after.

Beyond the above, the opposition must also refrain from feeling all hubristic just because Dr Mahathir Mohamad has joined Pakatan Harapan. Dr Mahathir, while deserving of our praise, is merely a mortal.

The weight of defeating BN must come from the ground up. Without a populist revolt, the charisma and tenacity of Mahathir will not trigger a swing of 10 percent of the Malay votes.

As Anwar Ibrahim said, "The strength of democracy lies with everyone of us who holds a vote in our hand."

The role of a government-in-waiting is to crystalise the thoughts and ideals of the people. The people have hungered for an opposition coalition that is united, powerful and intellectually well sourced. Giving them anything less than the combo would be an injustice to say the least.

Incidentally, BN may be powerful, even united. But it doesn't have a clue on how to contain the cost of living, and the corruption that has seeped into the Malaysian government from the top down and bottom up.

One of the first things the opposition coalition will do when it wins Putrajaya, would be to conduct a listening tour on what the people want, and how the opposition coalition can deliver.


MOHAMAD SABU is president of Amanah.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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