Tuesday July 18, 2017
08:41 AM GMT+8

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JULY 18 — Pakatan Harapan has finally come out with its leadership line-up.

To be honest, the list is by no means perfect but at least it is some kind of achievement.

It is not easy to put inside the same list all the people who used to have some say in this country’s political arena, who among themselves bear some historical grudges and conflict of interests, yet want them to accept one another’s positions.

Inspecting it from the organization structure perspectives, the line-up is indeed teeming with shortcomings. Anwar Ibrahim is de facto leader, Mahathir the chairman and Wan Azizah the president. All three are placed on top of the list, but who will have the final say?

When a really tacky issue pops up, and when the top leaders do not agree with one another, this structure is bound to come under tremendous impact, and will very likely rock the stability of the opposition pact.

Without the straightforward Number One means there will not be an undisputed candidate for the prime minister post. Even though there is still some way to go before the pact will actually take helm at Putrajaya, the choice of prime minister should serve as an indicator from which cohesive force will be generated.

The 12-man line-up has also failed to reflect the comparative strengths of individual component parties.

Currently DAP has the largest number of seats in the Parliament, but the party only has three places in the list, all second-tier and below—a deputy president, a vice president and a treasurer. PPBM, which has the weakest representation at this moment, gets a chairman, a deputy president and a vice president.

Among the four parties, DAP is the strongest, its support base most solid. However, it has to be contented with secondary roles in Pakatan, and this may trigger the frustration of many Chinese supporters.

Yet to face its first election challenge, PPBM has been accorded pivotal roles in the line-up.

Despite the fact the organization structure is flawed, from the angle of power balance, it is nevertheless a masterpiece in political art.

Apparently, it is also a compromise to the prevalent political reality of this country.

Pakatan Harapan needs the Malay votes badly, and to exploit this sector, PPBM seems to be the best bet with both Mahathir and Muhyiddin still commanding a good support base in the Malay society.

The new line-up has been designed to please the Malay voters and win over their hearts. The Pakatan Harapan structure is not going to change the political dominance of Malays in any way.

Let’s put aside the question whether such a low profile on the part of DAP will help the party win some support among the Malays, uplifting PPBM may eventually rock the fundamental support bases of PKR and Amanah.

These three predominantly Malay parties may still need to realign their strategies in facing GE14, and come to terms with the reality of eroded support due to overlapping.

PKR, PPBM and Amanah must be able to rock the boat of Umno-PAS in order to win big in Malay constituencies so that Pakatan Harapan will continue to stay relevant in Malaysian politics. Otherwise, it is at best playing the “destroyer” role trying to dilute the votes, in the end benefiting either Umno or PAS.

For example, in the event of a three-cornered fight in Kedah where PPBM fails to win even though it manages to take a slice of the votes from Umno, doing PAS a big favor in so doing.

In a similar manner, if Amanah steals some of the votes from PAS but not enough to win, it will be Umno that will have the last laugh.

Anyway, the fact that Pakatan Harapan’s leadership structure has taken shape shows that political parties are ready to compromise, especially between the families of Mahathir and Anwar, for a common future goal.

This alone marks a big step forward for the opposition camp.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.

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