Saturday, June 14, 2014

Pakatan out, civil society in?

This columnist conducted a survey recently in Kuala Lumpur (KL) between May 6 to June 6, involving a hundred fence-sitters to find out their views regarding Pakatan Rakyat (PR) one year after the 13th General Election (GE).

The criteria is that they must not be affiliated to any political party and their main objective is to vote for good governance besides not being a staunch supporter of any political party.

Out of the 100 people interviewed, 77 said they will still vote for PR in the next general election though 55 of them are already unhappy with Pakatan right now.

These 55 gave various reasons such as: “Pakatan has lost focus, Pakatan is lacking direction, Pakatan is divided.”

They are also of the view that PR should reform and reinvent itself in order not to suffer a terrible defeat in GE14 and the loss in the Teluk Intan by-election last month should be a wake-up call for Pakatan.

However there is a shop owner in his 80s in Chinatown, KL who opined that after the 2004 general election, in which the opposition did very badly, they became a good opposition by voicing out strongly against the wrongs done by the federal government.

That made them obtain many votes in 2008 and enabled them for the first time ever to deny Barisan Nasional (BN) its customary 2/3 majority in Parliament.

“But from May 2013 onwards, I noticed that the opposition’s performance had slacked,” said the shop owner.

This was true indeed.

Nevertheless, after their astonishing performance in the 2008 general election, with results that even surprised themselves, the opposition seem to have lost steam after May 5 last year. Probably it is because they were and are still tired after all their efforts to capture Putrajaya had been in vain.

Continued the shop owner, “I have been an armchair political observer since the Merdeka days and I note that the opposition performs better as an opposition when they are not focused on capturing this and that. I recall Kit Siang’s failure in his Tanjung I and Tanjung II campaigns to capture Penang and now Pakatan’s failure to capture Putrajaya. It is all a distraction from their opposition work and thus made them lose focus.”

In his opinion, all the opposition candidates who contest in the next general election must focus entirely on winning their seats and should not be fixated on Putrajaya. Thus if PR still fails to capture Putrajaya, it would not affect them.

All the fence-sitters interviewed are of the view that the opposition’s best chance of capturing federal power has come and gone with the previous general election and therefore they should just focus on being the best opposition that they can be.

The shop owner emphasised that it is the thought of capturing Putrajaya that has diverted the opposition’s attention from being an effective watchdog.

Does this mean that PR must forget about capturing Putrajaya? Surely that does not seem right. PR has a struggle to live up to but now it is time to focus on the daily task of being a worthy opposition and serving the people and highlighting the wrongs of the powers-that-be.

PR should not be too fixated on capturing Putrajaya; which they may not even succeed in doing so in GE14. This is because the rural folk lack information and cannot make an informed decision.

Change will only happen when there is a matured society and most people have access to information.

Till then, Pakatan has to continue doing a good job as an opposition.

Anyways, there is still hope as long as civil society speaks out against the wrongdoings of those in authority.

It is time for the opposition to pull up their socks regardless if there will be a change in government in GE14.

If the opposition fails us, then civil societ