April 22, 2015
Permatang Pauh By-Election: Not a PKR Lily Please
by Terence Netto@www.malaysiakini.com
COMMENT: Tomorrow PKR announces its candidate for the Permatang Pauh by-election. Nominations are for Saturday and polling is on May 7.
Wan Azizah ought to be what she is qualified to be: a figurehead President of the party, placed there by reason of the travesties visited upon her husband by the powers-that-be.That placement is expedient: her aura of suffering is emblematic of the long drawn out travails of Anwar Ibrahim who, being out of public sight, needs someone in a lofty enough position in the party to reflect his privations in the public gaze.
But to employ Wan Azizah in a role that mistakes her aura for something more substantive would be self-deception, the way UMNO is condemned to permanent experience of the malady.
Presently, the country’s dominant political party is in the throes of choosing between the advice of the person singularly responsible for its woes and the nation’s and the assurance that all’s well that seems well from a man who is himself an product of the system well laid for it by his fiercest critic.
That not enough people in the party care to reflect on this mordant irony shows the depth of the hypnosis exerted on UMNO by Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
After finding three Deputy Prime Ministers he essentially chose defective and two Prime Ministers that he actually selected dismally disappointing, his advice on prescriptive measures is being volunteered and may eventually be listened to.The fact that it is advice that must be taken to save the country from the Najib Abdul Razak-Rosmah Mansor imperium does not make it any less ironic.
After being a stand-in MP for three-terms for her disqualified-by-incarceration husband, and after having being supplanted in that role when Anwar was free of his legal trammels, Wan Azizah may yet again be deployed as a stand-in candidate for her spouse’s traditional seat.
Worse may well be in store. If she is successful in the by-election, the DAP may well consort with the rump of PKR that supports her to make her the stand-in Opposition Leader, in place of her gaoled husband, if only to keep PAS away from that role and also PKR Deputy President Azmin Ali from it.
If this article has reiterated the husband-and-wife relationship rather cloyingly, it is only to draw attention to the fact that PKR had set its face from birth in 1999 against not just the corruption and cronyism of UMNO-BN, but also its nepotism.
Unable to come up with another candidate? After 16 years of its existence, the party, if it fields Wan Azizah again in Permatang Pauh, would indicate that it is unable to come up with another candidate more suitable to stand-in for Anwar.
The party has such candidates but if it reflexively goes looking for one from within the Anwar family, it will be like its compatriots in Pakatan Rakyat, the DAP, who are as keen in establishing dynastic legacies around the families of Lim Kit Siang and the late Karpal Singh Deo.
If the PKR fields Wan Azizah, the party would be tone deaf to precisely what their iconic leader (above) has often warned them against: underestimating the intelligence of the masses, a quotation from Spanish thinker Ortega Y Gasset that Anwar often cites in his speeches.
It is in underrating the intelligence of the Malay voters in Permatang Pauh the last time they were asked for their opinion – in May 2013 – that Anwar incurred a 4,000-plus vote drop in his plurality.
He had slipped from a 15,000-plus vote majority in the by-election of August 2008 to an 11,000-plus majority in the general election of May 2013, losing in nearly all the Malay precincts in the state ward of Penanti, within the parliamentary one of Permatang Pauh.
This drop was incurred in an election where the tide of public sentiment ran strongly in favor of Pakatan Rakyat. One cause of the decline in the majority was the fielding of Dr Norlela Ariffin, an apology for a candidate. No use in reiterating who was responsible for the choice of Norlela.
The party has had to endure much mortification in choosing Norlela. Earlier this month, she had to be compelled by the PKR state leadership to call off a seminar she planned to organise on hudud for Muslim converts and had to be cautioned against publicly iterating her support for the PAS measure.
This argument against fielding Wan Azizah in Permatang Pauh could go on, but one finds no pleasure in shredding a lily.