WHO could forget September 16, 2008? No, it was not only Malaysia Day but the day Pakatan Rakyat was supposed to be in Putrajaya.
Soon after the March 8 political tsunami that year, Pakatan Rakyat de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim announced with much fanfare and gusto that “we have the numbers to take over Putrajaya come Sept 16”.
Well, nothing happened that day almost four years ago. The numbers Anwar was talking about were from Sabah and Sarawak. If his claim was true, then there must be some good reasons why the East Malaysian political ‘frogs’ did not hop over.
You and I will never know why they suddenly got cold feet and decided not to jump. Only the MPs concerned knew why.
Perhaps many of them had such a good time in Taiwan that they had forgotten their Sept 16 ‘appointment’ with Anwar.
The legislators had their colleague, Bintulu MP Tiong King Sing, to thank for he organised the Taiwan trip as chairman of the BN Backbenchers Club. Otherwise, many of them could possibly be ‘shipwrecked’ had they jumped then.
But we must really give it to Anwar. The political animal in him and his ‘never-say-die’ attitude made him gave his best even when he knew the chips were down. It was vintage Anwar at the stadium rally on Sept 16, 2008. As always, he had a believable explanation for his party faithful.
In his speech that day in Petaling Jaya, Anwar still claimed that his Pakatan Rakyat alliance was ready to form the government within the next 24 hours, but pointed out that the opposition was prepared to delay the formation.
“Why are we not changing tomorrow? We don’t want to do it by force. To go to Putrajaya and drag them out. So, we want to negotiate with the prime minister (Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi) to see if he wants one week or two weeks.
The opposition leader also told the crowd that he had already sent a delegation to Abdullah with a letter from the leaders of its three component parties seeking to discuss a peaceful transition of power.
“Tomorrow is D-Day. We are ready to form the government. We have enough numbers and tomorrow we will make our stand clear,” he said to over 10,000 gathered at the stadium.
Since Sept 16, 2008, many new political chapters had been written. The Perak Government fell following defections from Pakatan state representatives over to the BN. Then several PKR members of Parliament, notably from Penang, also decided they had enough of life in the opposition and decided to join forces with the government.
At last count, I’m not too sure whether BN got their two-thirds majority back (after the 2008 election) as so many MPs are now considered BN-friendly, whatever that means.
Last week, the Sept 16 ghosts seemed to have returned after Anwar Ibrahim purportedly said that something ‘big’ was about to happen in Sabah. The online news portals then went into overdrive, even describing the coming episode as ‘revolutionary changes’.
Disappointingly, the revolutionary changes and something ‘big’ turned out to be mere defections of legislators again, as we now know. Like in 2008, it didn’t materialise too. Again, our politicians’ feet had frozen.
This brings us to one important issue. Why is Pakatan Rakyat, Anwar Ibrahim in particular, so keen on getting BN defectors to his side?
Among the possible defectors mentioned were a former chief minister, a former deputy chief minister, a former State Legislative Assembly Speaker, a former federal minister, a serving Senator and a son of the late Sabah statesman Tun Mustapha Harun.
In 2008, none of the so-called defectors were named although we knew who they were as the drama fizzled out. Last week, those speculated to cross over were named. Only two denied they were jumping ship. But we know what politicians would say when they are cornered.
This is the eve of the 13th general election. Malaysians are only too aware that all kinds of political tricks would gush out at such a time. One blogger called it psychological warfare, a prelude to the bargaining game in the open market.
The blogger correctly stated that most politicians are worried they will be reduced to obscurity, either among the voters or those in power. As a consequence, they have to regularly remind people of their mere existence.
It is true that in Sabah, and indeed Sarawak as well, this is a standard modus operandi. Too many political parties and their members are putting themselves on sale under such a weird, speculative political environment. The country’s highly intricate political ecosystem, indeed, provides a fertile ground for power wrestling, where even hushed parties or obsolete politicos would find their worth.
Of all people, Anwar Ibrahim should know what he is getting himself into. True, the current big names on the BN side could be an asset to Pakatan in the short term but they could also be a liability later. Is Pakatan in it for a quickie or for the long haul? This is the question Pakatan leaders must ask themselves.
Of the three parties in the Pakatan Rakyat alliance, PKR seems to be over-dependent on re-cycled names to boost its image. I’m quite sure that not all DAP and PAS leaders are agreeable to Anwar’s fondness for catching political frogs. In 2008, DAP chairman Karpal Singh had expressed his reservation about attaining power via the back door. He was not in favour of enticing crossovers from the BN at that time. We can assume that his views on political frogs stand.
Let’s be wary of political defectors. The bigger their names, the more dangerous they would likely be. Browsing through the names of those speculated to defect in Sabah last week, all had defected previously. One had already ‘slept’ with four ‘partners’ in his political career and PKR would be his fifth if he defects.
And we know only too well that if they defect now, there is no guarantee that they would not jump ship again. Hey, there is such thing as the highest bidder in politics too. Surely, we know that Umno has deeper pockets than PKR.
What MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek implied recently about defectors is interesting. He said Pakatan considered those who crossed over from BN to the other side free of sin and they become saints overnight while those who jumped to BN are considered traitors.
I’m no fan of the MCA leader but I have to say that Dr Chua has made a pertinent point in his latest statement.
There are no saints among defectors, only traitors. Again, I have to state that of all people, Anwar should know this. I’m sure that Malaysians would want him to stop catching political frogs. The elections are near. Let the unhappy people in BN remain in BN. There is no point in enticing them to jump ship. We should know that they don’t come free and they don’t come cheap either.
Anwar should lead Pakatan Rakyat into the general elections with what he has now. That’s how Malaysians want it. Stop catching political frogs. There is no need to do so.
Political frogs and those involved or associated with them are what I would describe as sleazy, sinister and sickening politicians. No decent politician should partake in their immoral game.
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