Pakatan Plays the NFC Card, Over, and Over, and Over…Again

Pakatan Plays the NFC Card, Over, and Over, and Over…Again

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, freshly rested from his coalition’s ceramah-masquerading-as-a-national-convention, was on the campaign trail in Gemas today. Eschewing things like new ideas and substantive policy proposals, Anwar fell back on his usual round of out-of-thin-air subsidy promises and sloganeering, attacking the Government as profligate and corrupt, and yet again demanding a debate with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

Pakatan was quick to play up the size of the crowd Anwar drew — 6,000 — which is indeed a large gathering when compared to Pakatan’s usual total (by its own admission 4,000 is the high-water mark). While still not the sorts of thronging crowds Anwar recently predicted after his acquittal on sodomy charges, the total was a respectable showing in an area that is still a very safe reserve for Umno.

Anwar’s harangue was its usual mix of stale and self-contradictory (Petrol subsidies! Electricity subsidies! Free highways! The corrupt Government is spending too much!), making clear again that no matter what one thinks of Anwar, Dr M, and their relationship, the former Prime Minister sacked his deputy just in time.

The staleness of the message only highlights the way Pakatan likes to play with the National Feedlot Corporation scandal, especially here, where NFC maintains its farm.

Undeniably, Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil’s handling of the matter has not aided matters. PKR’s leadership has ridden this horse for all that it is worth, to the point at which now the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commision’s investigation is in danger of being politically compromised — an outcome that was obvious a month ago — something about which it now appears PKR could care less.

Instead of allowing MACC to complete its inquest, the Rakyat is being treated to allegations of embezzlement almost daily, making clear that the investigation results, whatever they are, will now be tainted by the appearance of injustice. Pakatan is very good at this tactic. Take a scandal already being investigated to the hilt by the MACC, and suggest there is even more, and more.

PKR and Pakatan in general appear to have decided that due process is terribly vital when Anwar is being accused of sodomising his former employee, but it is an unaffordable luxury for anyone or anything tied even remotely to the Government.

As it stands today, should MACC uncover evidence of massive wrongdoing, and each and every officer of NFC end up in the dock, each and every one will be able to plausibly claim that his prosecution is politically-motivated. This would be doubly so if Pakatan managed to take Putrajaya before any prosecution; at that point, even a reasonable observer would conclude that a prosecution was merely the fulfillment of a campaign promise.

While it is understandable that Pakatan is seizing on anything and everything it can as GE13 approaches, this entire episode is becoming a preview of how Pakatan would govern given half the chance: Every criminal investigation is the starting point for a ceramah, promises of unrealistic new subsidies take the place of real ideas, vision or substantive policies, and due process is turned on its ear for the latest political advantage.

In the end, Pakatan got its ceramah, fully fifty percent larger than its largest on record, in an Umno stronghold. Anwar got his chance to bask in the adulation of a crowd. The likelihood that they will see any change in the election results here is minimal, but they both got their chances to feel good.