Train chug­ging aim­lessly on the op­po­si­tion track

PPBM still har­bour­ing hope Pas will join its pact

New Straits Times - - Opinion - The writer is a po­lit­i­cal desk jour­nal­ist who en­joys table talk and the oc­ca­sional cat video-binge and play­ing the pi­ano

THE rail­way sys­tem in Ja­pan is one of the world’s best, bar none. They are in­cred­i­bly punc­tual, with an av­er­age de­lay of less than 60 seconds for its high-speed rail net­work, the Shinkansen.

Tokyo Metro, as com­pli­cated as it may look on maps, runs like clock­work. Its punc­tu­al­ity is recorded down to the mil­lisec­ond. And, with a daily rid­er­ship of a whop­ping 6.31 mil­lion, it sim­ply can­not af­ford any de­lays.

Train driv­ers are trained on sim­u­la­tors for six months. This is so they can prac­tise on any sit­u­a­tion — power cuts, earth­quakes, ac­ci­dents, hang­ing kites, you name it.

Com­muters are al­most never left dis­ap­pointed. Un­for­tu­nately, I can­not say the same for the “train” our op­po­si­tion lead­ers are try­ing to steer.

Their train — this grand op­po­si­tion coali­tion train — has been de­lay­ing its de­par­ture for months on end.

Pakatan Hara­pan and Parti Pribumi Ber­satu Malaysia (PPBM), now co­op­er­at­ing un­der the ties of an “elec­toral pact”, have yet to de­cide on a com­mon logo, man­i­festo or seat al­lo­ca­tion.

Just three days ago, PPBM was ab­sent from the joint tech­ni­cal com­mit­tee meet­ing with its big half-broth­ers in Pakatan Hara­pan to dis­cuss seat al­lo­ca­tion.

The meet­ing went ahead, re­port­edly for about three hours be­fore the three Pakatan Hara­pan par­ties, PKR, DAP and Parti Amanah Ne­gara (PAN) “reached an un­der­stand­ing”.

It was at­tended by PKR sec­re­tary-gen­eral Sai­fud­din Na­su­tion, DAP na­tional or­gan­is­ing

sec­re­tary An­thony Loke and PAN elec­tions di­rec­tor Dr Hatta Ramli.

Sai­fud­din told re­porters that PPBM deputy pres­i­dent Datuk Seri Mukhriz Ma­hathir and vi­cepres­i­dent Ab­dul Rashid Ab­dul Rah­man were sup­posed to at­tend the meet­ing.

He was also quoted say­ing that PPBM sat out from the meet­ing be­cause the 7-month-old party had “yet to do its home­work”.

But, Mukhriz was quick to deny this claim. He said his party was of the opin­ion that the top lead­er­ship of all par­ties in­volved should out­line the “ba­sic prin­ci­ples” of seat ne­go­ti­a­tions first be­fore the meet­ing was held. This, he said, would make it eas­ier for the par­ties to sit down and dis­cuss.

There was also spec­u­la­tion that PPBM’s re­sis­tance to join in the meet­ing was be­cause it was hop­ing and wait­ing for Pas to join the op­po­si­tion bloc. Mukhriz de­nied this, too.

The joint tech­ni­cal com­mit­tee was formed fol­low­ing the for­ma­tion of Pakatan Hara­pan and PPBM’s elec­toral pact in De­cem­ber last year.

PPBM is way be­hind time. It is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly ap­par­ent that this hibis­cus party can­not yet de­cide which coach to hop on. It seems to be in two minds about this, but dilly-dal­ly­ing on a de­ci­sion would only put it at the los­ing end.

While it con­tin­ues to park its hopes on Pas, the Is­lamic party has made it clear time and again that it would not co­op­er­ate with par­ties that had ties with its break­away group PAN, or DAP.

PPBM chair­man Tun Dr Ma­hathir Mo­hamad had, just over two weeks ago, given the Pas lead­er­ship one month to de­cide on whether they wanted to join Pakatan Hara­pan.

This time­frame was im­me­di­ately cut short af­ter Pas firmly shut its door to any chance of co­op­er­at­ing with PPBM.

Seem­ing to be con­fi­dent of its strength, Pas pres­i­dent Datuk Seri Ab­dul Hadi Awang re­it­er­ated that his party was strong with its pol­icy of not work­ing with PAN and DAP.

It will fi­nalise its de­ci­sion on a

tahaluf siyasi (po­lit­i­cal co­op­er­a­tion) with PPBM at its an­nual Muk­ta­mar next month.

And, while Pas re­tains co­op­er­a­tion in the Se­lan­gor gov­ern­ment to­gether with PKR and DAP, its re­la­tions with PKR will be re­viewed at the Muk­ta­mar.

Pakatan Hara­pan is try­ing to get as many par­ties as pos­si­ble to board its car­riage. It will keep sell­ing train tick­ets un­til it is time to leave.

Are they go­ing to wait for PPBM to fill up the seats? Or will they go full speed ahead with­out them?

It’s time for them to start speaking the same lan­guage and quickly tackle petty dif­fer­ences be­tween them if they ever want a fight­ing chance against Barisan Na­sional.

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