No more room for reconciliation

Pakatan Harapan leaders announce the formation of the new Opposition coalition in September last year.

I was still in university and very much disinterested in national politics when the Opposition parties banded together to form Pakatan Rakyat back in 2008.

The 12th General Election had just ended and the trio of PKR, DAP, and PAS pulled off a shocking feat of denying Barisan Nasional a two-thirds majority in Parliament for the first time in nearly 40 years.

The alliance made all kinds of sense. With a total of 89 Parliamentary seats, it was natural that Opposition parties would wish to forge ahead as a single entity and give coalitional politics a chance – like their rivals successfully did.

But there was one small problem with this. They had given it a try before (remember Barisan Alternatif?) and failed.

Call it stubbornness or optimism, Opposition parties clearly felt they were more politically mature to get it right the second time. The courage to dust off failure and try again is, after all, an admirable quality.

Fast forward seven years, and the pact has collapsed for a second time. It happened due to squabbles over similar issues that doomed the first alliance – namely PAS' insistence on pushing for Islamic law.

Unrelenting, the country's Opposition force made several tweaks and emerged to give their relationship yet another shot, this time renaming the pact to Pakatan Harapan.

Talk about persistence, eh? At the risk of sounding like a hopeless romantic, this seemed like a love story destined for a happy ending. Except sometimes, reality deals a cruel blow.

It has only been eight months into the new partnership, and there are already major cracks in the foundation. The difference this time is that PAS is not the one to blame.

Instead, Pakatan Harapan members DAP and PKR have been engaged in some kind of Mexican standoff that has spilt over from a calamitous state election in Sarawak.

Lately, it appears that the rift within PKR is also growing wider with two factions that can best be described as those willing to work with former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and those who aren't.

The situation has been exacerbated by the emergence of a letter penned by jailed PKR de-facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, warning his colleagues to be weary of colluding with his nemesis.

Now there is even talk of a ploy from within PKR to oust Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Azmin Ali, after a leaked WhatsApp message written by party vice-president Rafizi Ramli alleging corruption in state government dealings.

The timing of this revelation is suspect, and one thing I've learnt from observing the political shenanigans unfold here is that people keep their cards close to their chest until the time is right to show their hand.

Rafizi's "big reveal" is no coincidence, nor is it indicative of a man suddenly bogged by conscience. This looks elaborate, and at this point, I don't believe any of the Opposition leaders care if their popularity is hurt by such internal squabbling.

The cracks are piling up for what is Malaysia's only credible alternative voice, and this time it appears to be more serious than ever before. This time, it feels permanent.

Marriage in Islam states that a husband and a wife who have divorced can reconcile a maximum of two times. Once the husband utters divorce for a third time, or if he directly pronounces the 'talak tiga', the separation becomes irreversible.

This essentially sums up the Opposition's marriage. They "divorced" twice before but reconciled soon after. Now, there is no longer room for reconciliation.

At the rate things are going, it will be a troubled and disjointed Opposition that contests the next general elections. And they will only have themselves to blame for it.

Meanwhile, average Malaysians like you and I can just stand back and watch, maybe curse a little (or a lot), and feel utterly let down.

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Akil Yunus

Akil Yunus

Akil Yunus believes the world would be a better place without politics, but also a lot duller. He is a moderate at everything but eating, and feels people should make sense, not war.


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