Some Malaysians are falling for the mainstream media’s portrayal of the Pakatan Rakyat coalition as a marriage-of-convenience, as it relentlessly highlights the disagreements between the coalition partners. Recent differences that come to mind are the Kedah PAS-DAP quarrel and the disunity over PAS’ proposed unity talks with UMNO.
No marriage is perfect. Partners will have disagreements. They may settle it discreetly, argue quietly or fight publicly, but it is a fact, normal adults in normal relationships will have different opinions. And that is what Pakatan Rakyat is going through as the partners work through their relationships to make it even stronger in coming years.
In a marriage-of-convenience on the other hand, one partner has the upper-hand. There is no striving for a greater good. One partner may want a green card or financial security so he or she just grins and bears it, no matter what nonsense the other partner gets up to.
Which quite aptly describes the situation at the Barisan Nasional (BN). There is the façade of unity because the component parties don’t quarrel too much. The reality is that happens because UMNO calls the shots and the others just fall into line.
Take the Port Klang Free Zone scandal. Two weeks ago, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat made a principled move by directing Port Klang Authority to withhold payment until studies were completed. A few days later, the Ministry of Finance “instructed” PKA to pay up. This was a clear case of over-stepping boundaries. PKA is part of the Ministry of Transport. The Ministry of Finance did not even have the courtesy of working through the Transport Minister - it sent the “instructions” directly to the PKA board!
And what did the Transport Minister do? Not a peep. His authority has been completely undercut and yet he continues working with UMNO and the BN. Quite unlike the coalition of real partners in Pakatan, where the parties will stand up for their principles and express their real opinions.
So, which is the marriage-of-convenience?
PS. I’m taking a break. Off on a holiday to rest and recharge. Next posting will be on Wed, 5 Aug.