Hornbill Unleashed

December 20, 2009

The three-headed hydra

isa samad 061009 smile

By Sim Kwang Yang

The thumping landslide win by Umno’s Isa Samad over PAS in the Bagan Pinang may have been somewhat expected, but it does expose serious shortcomings within the Pakatan Rakyat coalition, to the extent that the rakyat has the right to ask: can it take power at the centre in the next general election, and if so can it rule with competence?

The Pakatan campaign in Bagan Pinang was disorganised and uncoordinated, lacking the kind of effective urgency that we witnessed in Permatang Pasir and elsewhere.

Even if Isa (right ) was not the candidate, Umno would probably have won easily still.

In a sense, it is good for Pakatan to lose this by-election. If they had won, it would’ve given PAS the impression that voters from all ethnic persuasions owe this Islamic party their die-hard support without question; it would’ve given PAS impetus to entrench their delusion that they are invincible without having to try hard to win the hearts and minds of the people.

The Pakatan coalition has been floundering for months in their public image. While one may argue that they are more democratic than BN in that all parties are free to express their different views in public, their constant public squabbles over very petty issues can only erode the confidence of the people, especially the fence sitters.

Perhaps the DAP, PKR and PAS have been in the political wilderness for too long, and their leaders and members are still steeped in their opposition mentality.

NONESome of them are obviously addicted to their knee-jerk tendency for personal heroics, playing to the public gallery and basking in the limelight by creating unnecessary controversies.

Like good old opposition heroes, they are still obsessed with attacking Umno and Barisan Nasional exclusively, as exemplified in the Bagan Pinang by-election.

In effect, the Pakatan coalition has yet to exist in form and substance.

Quarrelling over minor issues

They have not existed in form, because they have not yet registered with the Registrar of Societies as a bona fide legal entity.

They are vulnerable to manipulation from the Election Commission about putting up the flags and banners of all three parties in Bagan Pinang.

They have not yet existed in substance because they are like a three-headed hydra with the three heads snapping and biting at one another from time to time.

Instead of addressing the Malaysian public on their common beliefs and common programmes for good governance, justice, and prosperity for all, they argue about banning the sale of beer, the location of pig farms, and banning the Beyonce concert.

I think the members of these three individual parties are still imprisoned in the respective ideology and historical roots, and they lack the vision and the skills to construct a new narrative that will build bridges across the huge river of their differences.


Even in the local councils in the four states where they hold power, the councillors from the three parties are constantly engaged in back-stabbing, verbal sniping, and agitating for diametrically opposed agenda.

Then, there is the constant jostling in accordance with their territorial imperative, for new seats to contest, so as to gain prominence in the coalition. Nowhere is this more apparent than in my home state of Sarawak.

Partisan posturing raises questions

While Pakatan supporters nationwide and many informed people are dreaming of the Sarawak Pakatan Rakyat to come of age, and mount a serious challenge to the seemingly invincible Sarawak BN, the state Pakatan has yet to be formed officially because one component party insists that the issue of seat allocation be settled before they can talk about operating from a common structure.

Such partisan posturing in Sarawak and elsewhere must compel many voters to ask: are these Pakatan politicians more interested in their narrow sectarian party interests rather than the aspiration of Malaysians for a freer, more democratic and more just Malaysia?

The Bagan Pinang by-election has demonstrated the power of the BN incumbency, the appeal of a strong candidate, and the lingering influence of patronage.

It also shows that the Pakatan coalition did not exist; we only saw PAS, PKR and DAP fighting their separate battle as three different entities on three different fronts.

There are many more constituencies like Bagan Pinang out there in Malaysia, many of them in Sabah and Sarawak.

The might of the BN cannot be corroded by DAP, PKR and PAS fighting separately. Alone, any of these three parties is weak, and cannot appeal to a wide spectrum of voters from various ethnic and religious persuasions.

A grave danger awaits the Pakatan people. In the heads of some of their leaders and members, they may think that their unexpected great victory in the political tsunami last year was due to the greatness of their respective party and their leaders.

Danger in delusions of grandeur


They may even think that their party is so irresistible and their leaders so charismatic that the rakyat must owe them their support.

The fact of the matter is that the voters’ unexpected massive support for the Pakatan candidates during the last general election was due in large part to their disgust with the BN.

The great victories accorded the DAP, PKR and PAS is a rare opportunity given by Malaysian voters in our nation’s history to evolve into a real government-in-waiting.

Any opposition party that does not aspire to be the alternative government one day, either alone or in coalition with other like-minded forces, does not deserve the full-hearted support of the rakyat.

In the reality in Malaysia, nothing is more important than changing the government at the federal and state levels.

Nothing ought to be more important than that common objective, towards democratic progress and universal justice for a better Malaysia.

Individual political ambition and ideological purity of individual parties in the Pakatan coalition must be sacrificed for this mammoth and sometimes seemingly impossible historic task at hand.

At the moment, we see only a fragmented truncated and often imploded opposition alliance stumbling along without a united sense of purpose. As it is now, the PR is unlikely to dethrone the BN from its Putrajaya stronghold.

Right now, the Pakatan coalition is held together by their marriage of convenience. As we all know, in any marriage, be it out of love or convenience, you need to make compromise for the marriage to work.

In fact, compromise is what makes any marriage work in the long run, and compromise can only come out of love, and it is often reciprocated by love in return.

It is hard to see how DAP, PKR and PAS people can love one another, but the least that Malaysians can expect out of them is for them to demonstrate their love for their common objective of bringing to the people deliverance from BN corruption and tyranny.

Are they really ready for the task at hand?

This article was first published in Malaysiakini in  2009, and has been edited for Hornbill Unleashed.


  1. […] World Cup Dreams  in Next Years World Cup in South Africa. The English are ready to pick up this new trend of having a cup of cappucino plus having lasagna,pizza nd sphagetti to achieve their World Cup […]

    Pingback by “Would you like a Cup of Cappucino…?” « Audie61’s Weblog — December 20, 2009 @ 8:21 PM | Reply

  2. You are right SKY, the dayaks would continue to support BN in the state polls regardless, as seen in Batang Ai.

    Comment by Dyak — December 20, 2009 @ 6:43 PM | Reply

  3. A fresh breath is what we need!

    What about this?

    Can wait till the country is bankrup before PR comes in?

    Mukhriz promises 20 billion FDIs. Where does it come? And can he do it?

    Merry Xmas evryone! May the sugar plum fairy fly over your tree!

    Comment by Hacks — December 20, 2009 @ 1:59 PM | Reply

  4. Sim Kwang Yang,

    This issue about political parties are no more important today. NO MORE! The government has taken the SWEETNESS off our lives – many, many times over. Pakatan Rakyat has come out with some big rhetorical platforms but short on real sweetness! I can’t have kopi O in my house! Kopi O! BECAUSE:

    THERE IS NO SUGAR IN THE SHOPS! NO SUGAR! AGAIN! AGAIN! Few more days to christmas and there’s NO SUGAR! The only party that will get my vote come next election is the party that can guarantee sugar supply. No need ceramah, no need pay per vote, Just promise me Sugar.

    Comment by Ibat — December 20, 2009 @ 7:47 AM | Reply

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