Pribumi hopes to engage PAS

 |Jan 16, 2017
Crowd at Pribumi's official launch on Saturday night Jan 14, 2017 at the Melawati Stadium in Selangor.
Crowd at Pribumi’s official launch on Saturday night Jan 14, 2017 at the Melawati Stadium in Selangor.

The talk in town today is about last night’s official launch of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Pribumi) at the Melawati Stadium in Selangor.

However, people are not talking about the low crowd turnout for a party that claims it was replacing Umno, a party of four million members.

Instead the talk is about why Lim Kit Siang did not attend the launch whereas at DAP’s Dec 4, 2016 convention Mahathir Mohamad was the guest of honour and was seated at the main table.

The explanation is actually very simple and pretty obvious if you have been following political developments in Malaysia over the last two years.

As Mahathir himself said, for the opposition to be able to win the next general election (or even just repeat its 2013 election performance) it has to be on a one-to-one contest.

That means no three-corner or more contests.

For that to happen PAS has to be part of the opposition coalition either as a coalition member or at the very minimum having an electoral pact with Pribumi.

The way things are currently going, though, that may never happen because PAS and DAP are never again going to sleep in the same bed.

In fact, DAP said this before soon after it left Barisan Alternatif in 2001 after only two years as a coalition member: that it would never even sit at the same table as PAS let alone sleep in the same bed.

In the 2004 general election DAP did just that.

It refused to rejoin Barisan Alternatif and went solo and the 2004 general election turned out to be the worst performance in history for the opposition.

Party leaders from Pakatan Harapan at launching of Pribumi.
Party leaders from Pakatan Harapan at launching of Pribumi.

So, like it or not, in 2008 DAP was forced to rejoin the opposition coalition.

But they changed its name to Pakatan Rakyat so that it would be seen as a new coalition and DAP would not be seen as licking back its own spit.

Anyway, as Mahathir himself said, they need PAS to either join Pakatan Harapan or at least enter into an electoral pact with the other opposition parties to ensure there would be no three-corner or more contests.

That was why Lim Kit Siang did not attend last night’s Pribumi party launch.

If Kit Siang attended Pribumi’s launch last night that may mess things up for Muhyiddin Yassin, who is trying to get PAS to agree to some form of cooperation.

Mahathir’s job is to work on DAP while Muhyiddin works on PAS.

Mahathir has so far succeeded with DAP and even managed to get Kit Siang to agree to Mukhriz as the prime minister (PM) in the event Umno and Barisan Nasional are ousted.

Mahathir has also agreed to Kit Siang as the deputy prime minister (DPM) and finance minister.

Opposition leaders at the official launching of Pribumi.
Opposition leaders at the official launching of Pribumi.

But the deal with PAS has still not happened yet.

Mahathir knows that if Kit Siang attended Pribumi’s launch last night that would close the door to PAS and Muhyiddin would not be able to convince PAS to enter into some form of deal or pact.

So Kit Siang stayed away last night to make sure that the deal with PAS may still be possible.

History has proven that to get PAS and DAP to sleep in the same bed is more difficult than trying to get Mahathir to retire gracefully and peacefully.

Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah tried it back in 1990 but failed.

Finally he was forced to set up two separate opposition coalitions: one with PAS called Angkatan Perpaduan Ummah and another with DAP called Gagasan Rakyat.

That, however, did not help the opposition knock out Umno and Barisan Nasional in the 1990 general election.

In fact, Barisan Nasional managed to retain its two-thirds majority in Parliament with 71% of the seats.

Finally, after the 1995 general election failure, Tengku Razaleigh gave up and closed down his party.

If he cannot get PAS and DAP to sleep in the same bed then it was useless to continue.

In the 1999 general election PAS and DAP almost did not come to an agreement.

At the eleventh hour negotiations broke down until Anwar Ibrahim (who was then serving time in the Sungai Buloh Prison) took over the negotiations and managed to get PAS and DAP to come to an agreement.

Basically Anwar was the glue that held PAS and DAP together (even though Anwar could not stop PAS and DAP from quarrelling two years later in 2001, which resulted in DAP leaving Barisan Alternatif and going solo in the 2004 general election).

Crowd at Pribumi's official launch on Saturday night Jan 14, 2017 at the Melawati Stadium in Selangor.
Crowd at Pribumi’s official launch on Saturday night Jan 14, 2017 at the Melawati Stadium in Selangor.

Today, however, Anwar is no longer in the picture and has become irrelevant.

So now Pribumi has to be that glue.

But things have gone so far down the road that PAS and DAP may never come to any agreement in our lifetime.

So, while Mahathir works on DAP, Muhyiddin has to work on PAS.

There is no way one man can work on both parties at the same time.

That is why Kit Siang did not attend last night’s launch.

If he did then Muhyiddin will never be able to work on PAS.

Last night Mahathir made it very clear that for the opposition to see success in the next general election it has to be based on a united opposition.

That means this must include PAS and with no three-corner or more contests.

As it stands now that is never going to happen because in his speech last night Mahathir insulted PAS.

But then you cannot blame a man for hoping.

After all, Pakatan Harapan does translate to ‘cooperation of hope’ so hope is the only thing that it can ride on at the moment.

This was what Takiyuddin Hassan, PAS’s Secretary General, said – “PAS secretary-general Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan said the party wants absolutely nothing to do with either Amanah or DAP. PAS is only open to cooperating with PKR and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia.
We cannot stop Parti Pribumi from working with Pakatan Harapan but they cannot pull us along.
Talks between PAS and Parti Pribumi have been going well and a cooperation agreement may be signed soon.
They are interested in negotiating seats to contest but it is too early for that. We also heard from Tan Sri Muhyiddin’s own mouth that he will not return to Umno. We need that assurance after our experience with Tengku Razaleigh (Hamzah)”.

So that appears like the door has actually already been closed whether Kit Siang attended last night’s party launch or not.

My money is on Najib Tun Razak still remaining the PM way into 2020 and beyond.

Mahathir Pribumi

What was also very interesting last night was Mahathir announcing that the opposition is going to retain BR1M if it managed to come to power.

Earlier Mahathir called BR1M a bribe but he now realised that this was not going to help win votes for the opposition.

Maybe Mahathir now realised that voters anywhere in the world were motivated by money and would vote based on the doctrine of ‘what’s in it for me’.

Another interesting announcement which Mahathir made was that the opposition would abolish the GST if it comes to power.

The GST, however, brings in about RM40 billion a year in revenue and no government in the world can run a country without tax or income.

Hence, to replace this ‘lost’ RM40 billion a year, Mahathir proposes to replace the GST with a sales tax, just like how things were in the past.

Yes, in the past the revenue came from sales tax (as well as income tax, corporate tax, import duties, etc.).

That is actually what we call old wine in a new bottle.

It is just changing the name from GST to sales tax.

That is like the purchasing officer telling the supplier, “I do not want a bribe. Bribery is haram. Just give me a sales commission on all the orders I give you.”

Yes, and once GST has been renamed Sales Tax, Malaysians will all be able to live happily ever after. – Malaysia Today

Raja Petra Kamarudin or RPK, cousin to the Selangor Sultan, is one of Malaysia's earliest online 'citizen journalists'. He started his website in 1995 before the internet 'explosion' triggered by the Reformasi movement in September 1998. Malaysia Today was launched as a blog in August 2004 and is one of the few pioneer blogs still active and posting articles on a daily basis 24-7. RPK, 66 years old, has been writing since 1990.