Pakatan Harapan needs a ‘Coach Carter’ timeout

MAY 25 — One of the biggest lessons I’ve learnt is knowing when to hit the pause button and take stock of where things are when all signs show that the wheels are going to fall off.

One of the best examples is from the movie Coach Carter when the central character called timeout when he saw his Richmond Oilers basketball team face defeat against St. Francis after committing repeated mistakes in the regional basketball finals in California.

“Gentlemen, you told me you deserve to be here. Well, you’re not playing like it.

“All season long, we played our game. Right now, you’re playing theirs! When we step out on that floor, every second, we are pedal to the metal.

“And most importantly, we make them play Richmond Oiler ball,” Samuel L. Jackson who played a high school basketball coach in the 2005 film said.

If he hadn’t called time to recollect and refocus his players, Richmond High School would have been whitewashed in the regional basketball finals.

Closer to home, that’s precisely what opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan needs right now; a timeout.

The coalition has faced many challenges resulting in a number of regrettable mistakes.

Some forces have capitalised on this vulnerability to push forward their personal agenda, threatening to tear the opposition coalition apart merely eight months after it hatched.

Chief to this is one of the “Save Malaysia” architects, Zaid Ibrahim.

He first mooted that the rulers be given more power to keep the government in line as the opposition was too weak.

Now, he’s trying to divide Amanah, DAP and PKR by arguing that the latter should be booted out and a new coalition formed.

Then, there is the shadow of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad which surfaces too often for the liking of many, working with the opposition at sunset and labelling them too weak and disunited at sunrise.

Add to this the tease by PKR Secretary-General Rafizi Ramli of corruption allegations within the structure of Selangor’s state government and we have a very uneasy sight in front of us.

While Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Azmin Ali has labelled these allegations as “sheer cowardice“, it paints a picture that the opposition’s enemy lies within.

Meanwhile, the little matter of parallel by-elections in Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar is threatening to further widen the rift within the national opposition as it has to contend with PAS’ insistence on contesting in both constituencies.

This has somehow led to rumours surfacing in The Star Online that PAS’ position in Selangor’s state government is at risk, although this has been denied.

Some academics have said that the upcoming by-elections will be the first hurdle Pakatan Harapan has to negotiate after the difficulties in Sarawak.

But it’s looking like there are minefields even before the dual polls.

And this is fuelling the disappointment among even urban voters as people look back to the heights of 2008 and 2013, both a distant memory now.

Pakatan Harapan does not need strategists right now.

What they need is to woosah, get a “Coach Carter” to call timeout and say, “Ladies and gentlemen, this is getting ugly. Let’s regroup and get our heads back in the game.”

Finding a “Coach Carter” though is a different ball game altogether.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.