Pakatan loses the plot and 2022 countdown has begun with Sarawak

NOVEMBER 25 — It is safe to say no one on this side of the Universe — and it is vast — has a clue about what Pakatan Harapan truly stands for, not even esteemed members in the upper echelon of its power structure.

I’m joking. The people on the other side of the only known Universe — and it is inexactly vast — also do not have a clue either.

Pakatan, presently, floats across the Universe waiting for a lifebuoy. It’s hardly in the shape to save Malaysia as it drowns in its own hubris.

The absence of an identity is so absolute, so thorough that one is tempted to say it is well-crafted, this non-identity. A real public relations coup to convince people it has abandoned character in order to fit any populist track, seemingly for some indeterminate vote, to be changed every Friday.

In the current climate, the easiest and thus least complicated manner to describe the coalition is that it is not Barisan Nasional (BN) and certainly not too removed from BN to be a completely new thing. 

It’s a laggard in the nether regions. A familiar unwanted thing. As Melaka voters — three and a half years after they ushered them in as the first non-Umno government — discarded much of the affection they had for them.

A notice has been served.

If Pakatan cannot exhibit penitent remorse for the Melaka debacle, expect more pain for the coalition. So far, the reaction has been diabolical, filled with clichés.

This bodes badly for the coalition which should have learnt from each misstep since May 2018.

Except for the sole win in Sandakan (May 2019), Pakatan has been trumped in every by-election since January 2019 — with BN-direct member Ramli Mohd Noor triumphing in Cameron Highlands. 

It has also been outmanoeuvred in every political stratagem after the Sheraton Move in February 2020 — the fall of Kedah and double collapses in Perak, Johor and Melaka. Every time coming out worse for wear.

What do the people in the Pakatan high council, medium council or just in-between council want Malaysians to tell them? They’ve emailed, ranted on social media and abandoned them in elections. 

The only thing left is to hire a plane to carry a banner over Petaling Jaya, failing that set a fire on a hill and smoke signal their disgust.

The poor start in 2019 gradually turned into a nightmare federal exit in 2020. A poor end to 2021 — Sarawak polls is the final notice — may spell a total collapse in 2022 if a general election is held.

Melaka done, set sail for Sarawakian catastrophe

A vehicle equipped with public address system to play recorded messages on loudspeakers departs from Pakatan Harapan’s command centre in Malim Jaya, Melaka November 9, 2021. ― Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
A vehicle equipped with public address system to play recorded messages on loudspeakers departs from Pakatan Harapan’s command centre in Malim Jaya, Melaka November 9, 2021. ― Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

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It was not BN’s win or Perikatan Nasional’s (PN) respectable collection of almost a quarter of the voters, or one in four voters. Astonishing, in tabloid fashion, was Pakatan’s pedestrian trot to defeat.

Till today, it is still a mystery what Pakatan’s platform was in the small state — with all its six parliamentary seats.

BN was stereotypical, and Umno did its usual “We love the Chinese even if they are the ‘villains’ who provide the emotional thrust in our party’s narrative for race exclusivity” and added peace, stability and prosperity at the end.

A match strategy written on the back of a napkin.

An old game plan, bordering on ancient.

However, it was one plan more than what Pakatan did not have. Pakatan cannot blame anyone except itself.

Though there is hardly time for a post-mortem as the battlefield shifts to the east. And the signs are ominous.

Except for DAP’s independent influence in Borneo’s urban constituencies, PKR has been radically dismembered in both Sabah and Sarawak. Amanah — since its formation — is a non-factor in East Malaysia, though it eagerly contests out of a false sense of relevance.

Any other scenario than a Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) win would be miraculous. The expansion to an 82-seat assembly in 2016 and GPS’ relentless pursuit to remind all they are Sarawakians first and opposed to the race-bickers of Peninsula, when coupled makes the state impregnable.

Further, BN does not compete in Sarawak anymore. So, Pakatan and PN risk annihilation while BN observes and cheers on GPS.

On December 18, Pakatan will be well informed of its chances in the general election in regards to Sarawak’s 33 parliamentary seats.

The term serial loser might be tattooed on the coalition’s forehead by Christmas time.

Set expectations

Elections are won on election day, but it seems in Pakatan’s case it loses an imaginary one daily through a campaign period.

Because it does not want to dominate the narrative. It only rides the contrarian train. So, every body blow is taken without reciprocal response.

What should Pakatan do?

Tell the Malaysian people, not the least, Sarawakians what it wants as an outcome. Inform Amanah to lie low way past election day.

PKR must inform what is a win in Sarawak, and how it intends to turn the state election as the platform to again unseat BN at the general.

The BN narrative is that they tend to win. Their Umno president may have changed, and might change still, but the blip of 2018 is over and when it comes to elections, they storm through.

“Come on Malaysia, it’s better to support a nasty winner than a weaker by the day constant loser.”

Knowing PKR, there would be more time wasted on a possible pact with Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) till the eve of nomination day, which is 11 days away.

Dominating the Sarawak state assembly is not the objective. It is to register clear gains to push on for possible parliamentary seat wins in the general election, probably a year later.

It is time to look organised and disciplined and display a clear decision-making process in the eyes of voters. There are too many pockets of vulnerable voters who cannot risk the ire of the state government in the state election. 

But if there is purpose and targeted results, then it will embolden Sarawakians to trust Pakatan and gamble on them in GE15. That a little more will get Pakatan to cross the finish line and regain Putrajaya.

Pakatan’s window to respond and reorder its approach is closing rapidly. Dish out the same for the next six months and without a doubt a general election disaster awaits them. No doubt about that.

* This is the  personal opinion of the columnist.

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