Pakatan is failing the rakyat?
Posted December 1, 2008on:
|Pakatan is failing the rakyat|
|Dean Johns | Nov 26, 08 12:10pm|
|In the eight months since voters delivered Pakatan Rakyat five states and enough seats in the national parliament to form a credible opposition, its progress has been a dreadful disappointment.
Admittedly, the new state governments couldn’t be expected to achieve miracles, with the, police, judiciary, local government and federal funding all still under Barisan Nasional control.
And following 50 years of BN iniquity, incompetence and indolence, they could hardly be expected to make a major difference overnight.
There’s also the possibility that they’ve achieved a good deal that’s not yet evident to the outside observer, and if so I owe them an apology.
But they also owe their constituents some tangible signs of progress. And from what I’ve been able to perceive from a distance and reports from local observers, little has changed.
In Petaling Jaya, by way of example, there’s still the scandalous spectacle of thousands of illegal billboards. And as Zorro rightly wrote the other day in his blog “Tan Sri, mildly put, you are pathetic,” Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim and PKR in general have largely failed to stand up for citizens’ rights to hold peaceful candlelight vigils in protest against the ISA.
What about the shadow cabinet?
When his promised coup failed to materialise, he apparently felt he had no cause to either apologise for the let-down he’d inflicted on his supporters, or to explain what went wrong, or why, or to predict when, if ever, it could be expected to happen.
Not that I’ve turned anti-Anwar or given up hope that he or at least the coalition he leads will eventually prevail. I assume he has more problems that I can even imagine with politicking within and between PKR, PAS and DAP. And also, of course, he’s distracted by having to fight the latest sodomy charge against him.
So I suppose that Pakatan can be forgiven for failing to achieve its impossible dream of coming to power as suddenly and soon as Anwar hoped, especially in light of the fact that many of its supporters cried ‘foul’ at the thought of relying on renegade BN MPs to achieve such a coup.
But even in opposition, Pakatan hasn’t exactly proven much of an inspiration to the rakyat. In the eight months since the March ‘tsunami’ gave it respectable numbers in parliament, it’s had little or no effect on BN’s conduct – or rather misconduct – of Malaysia’s affairs.
To be sure, Pakatan members have been largely negated in parliament itself with their calls for debates of crucial issues consistently denied by the speaker.
But what about the shadow cabinet that any opposition worth its salt is supposed to form?
A shadow cabinet performs two vital functions. One, it affords the leading lights in the opposition the opportunity to develop and demonstrate their abilities in designated portfolios in preparation for when they come to power. And two, it puts pressure on incumbent ministers to do their jobs properly.
But Pakatan has made no apparent attempt to select a team of shadow ministers, thereby allowing itself to look to the voters like a rabble that can’t get its act together, let alone ever be trusted to run the nation, and letting BN government ministers run as much riot as ever.
It’s not as if Pakatan lacks an example of everything a shadow ministry should be. Lim Kit Siang is a world-class exponent of the art of opposition.
Take a look at his latest inquisition into government criminality and incompetence: a barrage of intelligent and incisive questions to Tourism Minister Azalina Othman Said about the scandals surrounding the Pempena Group of companies.
It’s a copybook example of parliamentary opposition at its best. But as unrelentingly watchful and outspoken as Lim is, he can’t be expected to do the job of an entire shadow cabinet. He’s only one man, after all, and he’s not getting any younger. So it’s high time Pakatan started building a team in his image.
And while Pakatan is busy getting a shadow ministry together, it should also employ its considerable research and intelligence resources in compiling a massive dossier of BN misdeeds.
Despite years of outraged revelations by bloggers, the so-called “silent majority” of Malaysians clearly has no real inkling of the virtually endless catalogue of crimes and injustices committed against them over the years by the BN government.
The “mainstream” media collude with the culprits to cover-up their crimes, and in any case the scandals are so numerous, so blatant and so routinely brushed-off by the agencies responsible for investigating and prosecuting them, that millions of citizens are rendered stunned, hopelessly cynical or simply incredulous.
There’s also a growing BN backlash in the cyberspace as signaled by the fact that the sneering reactionary rambling of the superannuated Dr Mahathir Mohamad are reportedly attracting so many hits that some have taken to proclaiming him “king of Malaysia’s bloggers”.
Mahathir’s self-serving claptrap may not fool anybody but his hard-core sycophants, of course. But, like other BN blogs and the media, it must create confusion in many peoples’ minds and help divert attention from both his own and his colleagues and cronies past and present crimes.
Pakatan urgently needs to find ways of revealing to the rakyat, for once and for all, the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about BN’s atrocious record. So even if most of its crimes are so far unpunished, and most of the criminals still at large, they can at least go on trial in the court of informed public opinion.
The same court of public opinion in which, if it doesn’t get its act together very soon, Pakatan itself will continue to appear less impressive every day as a credible and eventually electable opposition.