How Pakatan Harapan Can Win GE14

Posted on March 21, 2016


Recently I did a 10-part series which started off with an article entitled “Why BN Will Win GE14“. It was a depressing series for some as I listed 10 major challenges Pakatan Harapan (Harapan) faces as they prepare for GE14.

It was not my intention to kill off any hope that people may have in the nascent coalition but to spur people who want change into action.

Talking, moaning, criticizing, wishing or praying alone won’t bring about any change to the status quo. Harapan needs clear, consistent, committed and concerted actions now to end the hegemonic rule of Barisan Nasional (BN).

With this article I want to start another 10-part series, where I now offer my humble suggestions on how Harapan can win GE14.

Some of the ideas I proffer may be idealistic and impractical to some and some suggestions may be way off the mark. Pardon me for that but I care too much for what is happening to this nation to stay silent or worse, do nothing.

So let us begin with what I think is the number one thing Harapan must do in order to win GE14 – get yourself a new leader!

There is a saying that where there is no vision, the people perish. One could replace vision with leader. People need a visionary leader to lead them into the promised land.

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was one such leader and BN knew it and that is probably the reason why he is in jail. All the talk that he can lead the struggle from within Sungai Buloh prison is just hogwash to me.

No disrespect intended to Anwar but on the contrary. No one has ignited the hopes of millions for democratic reform in Malaysia as he has. No one to date.

But he has served his purpose and his time, in more ways than one. Now he is taking a well-deserved rest in prison albeit in a less than comfortable surrounding.

Recently I read with dismay that Mohamad Sabu, the leader of Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah), one of the component parties of Harapan, declared that the source of Harapan’s leadership and future prime minister of the coalition is not from Gua Musang or Pagoh but from Sungai Buloh prison.

That may rouse the ranks of party members and die-hard supporters for the moment but does little to offer real hope to ordinary Malaysians who want to see change.

Whether you like it or not, people look to leaders who can inspire them on a regular basis. An icon behind bars that issues occasional statements do not inspire hope. Some may say that Mandela was an icon of anti-apartheid in prison but the movement was not lacking in key leaders during the 27 years of his incarceration.

And there is no lack of charismatic and visionary leaders in the fold of Harapan but can they just agree on one that would lead them into GE14?

This leader must not only be acceptable and command the respect of the members of the component parties of Harapan but also inspire the confidence of the majority of Malaysians.

It must be someone who consistently seeks to unite the people through his or her speeches and actions. When our nation is as polarised as it is now and BN is expected to use the race and religion card to win GE14, such a voice would be like a ray of sunshine on a gloomy day.

This person must also be untainted by corruption and ideally, old politics. People all over the world are generally tired of politicians who see politics as an access to power and wealth.

We need a leader who can cast us a brave new vision of the Malaysia that we deserve and who is willing to reform all the public institutions that have been so weakened after almost six decades of de facto one-party rule.

And time is running out for Harapan to get their act together before GE14. Personal egos and ambitions have to take a backseat if they are serious about taking Putrajaya.

With Najib’s government on the ropes, thanks to questionable “donations” and the struggling economy, GE14 may be their best chance, if not the last, to form a new government.

The leadership vacuum is so gaping that there is a risk that with Malaysians as desperate as they are for a visionary leader, someone who was a villain yesterday can become a hero tomorrow and seize the opportunity to “save” the nation.

Desperate times call for desperate measures and Harapan must be bold enough to move out of the shadows of Anwar and name a new and dynamic leader of the coalition.

First published in The Malaysian Insider on January 25, 2016.