Fear of superior BN machinery caused third vote rejection

By Syed Jaymal Zahiid (Malaysian Insider)
KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 23 — Pakatan Rakyat (PR) officials had raised concerns that even Kota Baru in the PAS stronghold state of Kelantan could fall into the hands of Barisan Nasional (BN) if local council elections were restored.
These concerns caused PR to water down its commitment to restore local council elections should the fledgling coalition take federal power.
PR officials from DAP, PAS and PKR who spoke to The Malaysian Insider confirmed the coalition’s technical committee, responsible for putting together its common platform, had grappled at length with the issue amid fears that the BN machinery, which they considered far superior to that of PR’s, would grab the lion’s share of local council seats.
And in doing so, it was felt that BN could cause problems even for the administration of PR-held states.
These “tactical considerations” were understood to have been brought up by PAS.
“In terms of resources, certain quarters fear that they will not be able to compete with the BN machinery and major cities within PR-controlled states,” said one senior PR leader.
“One of the major concerns raised during PR’s secretariat meeting on this issue is that Kota Baru will fall into BN hands,” he added.
The fall of Kota Baru — the administrative capital of PAS-ruled Kelantan — into their political rivals’ hands would be disastrous for the party, it was argued.
Another senior leader from PKR concurred with this tactical view, saying that in Selangor itself the pact faced various technical problems pertaining to the third vote.
“In principle I will tell you that nobody in PR disagrees with the view that the third vote should be implemented.”
The senior leader explained that there was a pervasive fear that BN would have the upper hand should the third vote be restored, given their superior resources and also the fact that civil servants within local councils “are tied to the BN-led federal government”.
Another problem PR is facing, said the PKR leader, is with how the municipalities are carved out.
PR-led state governments are losing out to the BN-led federal government in terms of cash and while maintaining municipalities should be done by local councils, the federal government is also pouring in money into them in a bid to woo voters.
“So our supporters on the ground feel that we often lose out to BN. While we struggle to maintain the big municipalities with our limited resources, they can easily pour in cash,” said the leader.