Friday, January 09, 2009

Pakatan Rakyat should remain united in their goal

Agreeing to disagree

The recent public squabbles within the Opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR) was seen as a big let down for the people who voted for them last March. The continuing quarrels among them, over issues like the hudud laws, Islamic state, Klang bus station and election of village heads in Perak, appear to be dashing the high hopes placed on PR to provide a formidable opposition in parliament and more people-oriented governments in the states under their rule.

Despite these disputes over differences, PR leaders insist that they are not about to disintegrate. They reassure the people that expressions of dissent are just part of the democratic process that is evolving after years of a dominant one-party rule. They accuse the ruling BN and the media it controls as the culprits who exaggerate and sensationalize their minor rifts for their own political advantage. This may be true to some extent but the opposition coalition must to do more to prove that the bonds between the members are indeed strong and intact so as not to succumb to the political assaults of its opponents. The onus is on them to allay the fears and anxieties of the people who went against all odds and voted for them to bring the desired change for better governance.

It is encouraging that top PR leaders including, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim himself, have admitted that the three members of Pakatan Rakyat do indeed have major ideological differences but they are united on very important issues of eliminating power abuse, racial poltics, corruption, formulating sound economic and forming a government that places the welfare of the rakyat above everything else.

In a political coalition, it is absolutely healthy to have differences but it must not let these differences distract them from their original ideals for which it was formed. The attitude of “agree to disagree” should be encouraged as it is the basis of a good democratic practice that promotes a healthy debate on issues confronting us.

Acknowledging the existence of differences however would pave the way for the adoption of civil dialogue and debate as the means to find solutions to the various problems that are bound to occur in a multiracial and multi-religious society like ours.

Political coalitions like BN and PR may be made up of members with diverse ideologies but they should be united with the common aim of serving the rakyat. Instead of arguing which race, religion or party is superior, they should agree on a common goal - to govern the country better, with the welfare of the people at heart. It should be a battle between them to offer better governance not to champion their own self interests and the interests of their community.

In this duel to outdo each other in better governance, the media should play a positive role and promote whichever party that does the right thing for the rakyat.It should not allow itself to be used as a tool to further the interests of any party for whatever reasons.

Our politicians and the mainstream media should not underestimate the wisdom, intelligence and maturity of the people today in an era of sophisticated mass communication. They must appreciate the people’s increasing demands for greater transparency and accountability in governance and these demands are only going to escalate with time. As such there is no option for them but to buck up and change for the better or risk being changed by the rakyat.

The coming Kuala Terengganu by-election offers a golden opportunity for our political parties to uphold the principles of democracy for a clean and healthy contest. Focus must be on genuine issues confronting the people not personal, racial or religious.

For the media it is a chance to demonstrate its professionalism and maturity in its coverage of all the events leading to the by-election and the ensuing outcome on January 17.It has the obligation to ensure that the voters are given the true picture on the events unfolding on the ground as the campaign heats up thereby helping them to make the all important decision to make the right choice.

For the voters it is another opportunity, after March 8 and August 26, to continue to demonstrate their wisdom and maturity to vote for the right man to represent them in parliament, the man who would put their interests above his and his party.

Dr.Chris Anthony

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

PAS, DAP and PKR [aka strange bedfellows] must never forget their collective concensus for teaming up - which is to deny BN 2/3 majority. This is their only common similiarity and must be maintained as they continue trying to adapt to one another. It is only natural that BN will do anything and everything [even hitting below the belt] to paint a bad picture of PR. This is politics - and everyone know that politics is dirty. Instead of wasting time provoking and countering one another, both PR and BN should get down to work for the benefit of the rakyat. Let the rakyat decide in the next polls who they want to run the country.

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