Pakatan agrees on common aims, sticky issues remain

By Syed Jaymal Zahiid and Adib Zalkapli (Malaysian Insider)

SHAH ALAM, Dec 19 — Pakatan Rakyat’s top leaders today lauded their pact but agreed sticky issues needed to be worked out in their quest to capture Putrajaya.
Among some of the sticky issues was a compromise on local government elections which is now worded as “strengthening local democracy”.
But PKR de facto and parliamentary opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is confident of overcoming issues and the tables will be turned against their political rivals.
In his inaugural speech meant to inspire, Anwar gushed that the pact’s maiden convention marks a new dawn for the opposition coalition, that it is now more united and ready to face the obstacles as a single political force.
“In today’s convention, we have shown a new era of greater cooperation where we will endure the accusations that have been thrown against us and prevail together,” he said.
But there was also admission by Anwar that the pact, which is awaiting legal approval to be a formal coalition, must not let the March 8 2008 success-that saw them deny Barisan Nasional a two-third parliamentary majority and take over four states — sweep it off its feet.
“We must repent… We did not win because our machinery is strong. We are in the Dewan Rakyat and controlling the four states because the voters gave us their trust,” he told the 1,500 delegates at a Shah Alam auditorium.
“The voters are trying us, testing us, let us not betray them,” he added.
Earlier DAP chief Lim Guan Eng’s admission of compromising on local government election also showed the pact remains somewhat divided along ideological lines despite trying hard to play united in today’s convention meant to endorse its long-awaited common policy framework.
The party was forced to backtrack on its promise to restore the local council elections following strong opposition from fellow PR component parties, particularly from PAS.
DAP has been known to be a staunch advocate for the restoration of the local council election while PAS are known to oppose it and PKR are internally frayed on the issue despite having promised to restore the local council vote in its 2008 General Elections manifesto.
“The compromise to replace the local council election efforts with the concept of strengthening local government democracy shows DAP’s commitment to the coalition,” Lim said.
The opposition pact had come under tremendous scrutiny for this. It is this kind of “flip-flopping” that has made voters weary of PR’s ability to lead the nation as evident in recent surveys conducted by independent polling houses.
And to make matters worse, many of the pact’s leaders still appear plagued by a denial syndrome, refusing to take these clear signals of scepticism head on, preferring to blame its political rivals instead for manipulating its media to magnify the coalition’s differences.
In the coalition’s common policy, it is stated that PR is committed to “strengthen local government democracy and democratically enhance the competency and effectiveness of the delivery system and guarantee transparency at all levels.”
It did now state nor explicitly explain that it would restore the local council vote.
Meanwhile, PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang said the coalition delegates must focus on their common stand.
“Priority should be on matters that we have agreed to. Disagreements can be addressed later,” said Hadi in his 20-minute speech.
Hadi, however added that the convention will not totally neglect less popular views saying that it is consistent with Islamic tradition of recording weaker opinion.
“Today’s deliberation is about charting the road to victory,” declared Hadi.