It is a measure of how little Pakatan Rakyat accomplished at its national convention that even its friendly press couldn’t muster enthusiasm for Alor Setar.
The glaring lack of policy recommendations left some of its best online allies wondering what happened to the manifesto and the Shadow Cabinet.
The Malaysian Insider, arguably the highest-quality of the Opposition-leaning web portals, ran not one but two pieces excoriating Pakatan’s failure to produce meaningful policy and to resolve the core differences between the Opposition’s component parties.
The first, a thorough analysis of Pakatan’s policy dearth and its implications on the broader electoral picture, should have Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and the rest of his generals sweating over its conclusion: That Pakatan must move on from telling the tales of its accomplishments, and move on to resolving critical issues and answer the critical question voters will ask of a Pakatan Rakyat government: “But what happens after?”
The second, the result of interviews with a series of analysts, is facially not so deadly, but is ultimately more dire in its conclusion:
Political scientist James Chin characterised PR’s decision to stick with its current script as a strategic move in preparation for likely snap polls, pointing out that the convention was more to “rally the troops” than to provide a forum for new ideas.
“They do not want to bring any new ideas to the table because then they would have to renegotiate everything (between the parties)…
“The convention was not so much about convincing floating voters but reinforcing the existing troops,” the Monash University Malaysia lecturer said.
This is the heart of the matter: Pakatan Rakyat has already proven it cannot take Putrajaya with what it has. Too much squabbling, not enough policy.
PR needs to nurture its core, the base, and worry which of its voters from 2008 might decide to go back to the more modern vision offered by Najib Razak as a Reformer rather than Anwar.
The point James Chin makes is that new ideas are needed, new policies, but PKR and DAP and PAS have yet to agree on across-the-board policies even ahead of a General Election. And resolve their stance on hudud.
Even Free Malaysia Today’s exercise in condemnation, admitted that the entire event was little more than a rally, with the only substantive policy ideas came from the non-PR-official Datuk S Ambiga.
Pakatan Rakyat is in danger of not even being able to hold its own base.
The opposition rode a protest wave in 2008 as it stacked itself against old Barisan Nasional policies and the legacy of less-popular prime ministers, promising reform and good governance. Since 2008, others have proceeded with reforms, and PR has failed to deliver either vision or policy or a shadow cabinet. It has yet to show its maturity as a cohesive political coalition that would be capable of governing.