Challenges to Pakatan Harapan (Part 1)

Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on 23 September 2015

Challenges to Pakatan Harapan (Part 1)

How will history judge the third attempt at forming an opposition coalition in Malaysia? Only time will tell. But the newly formed Pakatan Harapan faces considerable challenges in preparing to face the Barisan Nasional (BN) in the fight for the nation’s future in the next general election. At the same time, there are also opportunities to be grasped in shaping the identity and platforms for the new coalition.

In this first part, I will go through some of the challenges of forming this new opposition coalition and argue that this is the right time to launch Pakatan Harapan. In part two, I will outline some of the challenges and opportunities for Pakatan Harapan in preparing for the next general elections.

While the announcement of the formation of Pakatan Harapan by opposition leader and PKR President, Dr. Wan Azizah, together with DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang and Parti Amanah Negara Chairman Mat Sabu seemed like a done deal, there were many forces that were moving behind the scenes to delay or even scupper the formation of this new opposition coalition. Some of this was driven by genuine motivations, other less so.

Arguments against the formation of Pakatan Harapan

The arguments made against the formation of a new opposition coalition can be grouped largely into three categories with some overlaps between them.

The first argument revolves around the notion that because BN-Najib will be so unpopular heading into the next general election, all the opposition parties need to do is to avoid three corner fights in order to get to Putrajaya. Including Amanah but excluding PAS from a new opposition coalition would likely lead to some damaging three corner fights that would detract from this larger objective. Hence, the opposition parties should maintain the status quo and not rock the boat.

The problem with this argument is that GE2018 (assuming the BN Prime Minister goes full term) will be different from GE2008. Winning a majority of parliament seats is a different ballgame compared to denying the BN a two thirds majority. The expectations of the rakyat have changed together with the political landscape in the country. If there is no official opposition coalition with a concrete platform and manifesto, some voters may just opt to stick with the familiarity of the BN, enough to deny an opposition victory. We also cannot discount the possibility that voter turnout will be lower than in GE2013 if voters do not see a viable opposition coalition to take over the BN. This will inevitably hurt the opposition more than it hurts the BN.

Furthermore, this argument is predicated on Najib remaining as Prime Minister. What if, for some unexpected reason, Najib is replaced by a rejuvenated and invigorated Muhyiddin prior to GE2018? A Muhyiddin led BN would benefit from a Pak Lah GE2004 boost to its popularity. The opposition parties would then have to scramble, in an uncoordinated manner, to try to find an effective counter to this. With a new opposition coalition in place, we would be in a much better position to plan and prepare for such a possibility and to show how we can do better than the BN, regardless of whether it is a Najib-led, Muhyiddin-led, Zahid Hamidi-led, or Khairy-led BN.

The second argument against the formation of an opposition coalition revolves around the fear of alienating PAS and losing the Malay vote. The notion here is that PAS is the only opposition party that can reach out to the Malay rural heartland and if they are excluded from the opposition coalition, this voter base will also abandon a PAS-less Pakatan Harapan. A further extension of this argument is that excluding PAS will push the party closer towards working with UMNO thereby decreasing the chances for an opposition victory in the next general election.

Again, this argument is problematic from many angles. The assumption that only PAS can win or hold on to the rural constituencies needs to be re-examined. Of the 15 parliament seats which the opposition won in 2008 but failed to defend in 2013, 10 were in the PAS stronghold states of Kedah and Kelantan. 7 of these seats were lost in Kedah alone partly due to an inept PAS-led state government that failed to deliver. In contrast, Pakatan in Penang as well as Selangor made gains in GE2013 in terms of vote share. Indeed, it may be fears within PAS that it may not be able to hold on to the Kelantan state government post-Tok Guru Nik Aziz that forced it to put hudud on the agenda post GE2013. The inability of the PAS Kelantan state government to come up with any systematic post flood reconstruction and rebuilding plan may very well come back to haunt PAS in GE2018.

It is undeniable that Amanah’s ability to capture the Malay vote is still somewhat in doubt. But that is to be expected given that it is only a few months old. There are encouraging signs especially the fact that more than 8000 members have signed up in the state of Kelantan. Amanah is also expected to make a strong push in the southern states of Johor, Melaka and Negeri Sembilan, states which PAS’s presence has been traditionally seen as weak. The political support of the Malay community is fluid, just like that of the other communities. Having a new progressive Islamic party to fight for the hearts and minds of the Malay community is a positive development especially given the reluctance of the current PAS President, Tok Guru Hadi Awang, to attack the many weaknesses and shortcomings of the Najib administration.

The formation of a PAS-less opposition coalition also does not prevent a future electoral pact to be agreed upon with PAS so that three corner fights can be minimized or avoided altogether especially in the marginal seats, if PAS is willing to come to the negotiating table.

Finally, the possibility of PAS having a closer working relationship with UMNO is already apparent, with or without the formation of a new opposition coalition. It is likely that Hadi Awang will continue to be manipulated and misled by UMNO into believing that the hudud agenda in Kelantan is still a possibility with the cooperation of UMNO. Given these existing tendencies, would it not be better to force PAS to reveal its political position vis-à-vis UMNO before the next general election rather than after? What guarantees do the other opposition political parties have that a Hadi Awang led PAS will not cooperate with UMNO in a post-GE14 context even without the presence of Pakatan Harapan?

The third argument against the formation of an opposition coalition is that this is not the right time. More discussion needs to take place and the policy positions of the new coalition needs to be firmed up so that the problems which broke up Pakatan Rakyat does not lead to the breakup of any new opposition coalition. The opposition parties should also go to the ground in order to understand the rural voters and form a coalition that will be able to win their hearts and minds. These are well meaning suggestions but are politically impractical.

That fact is that the opposition has been dysfunctional since the decision by Hadi Awang to push for the hudud agenda in Kelantan which is a direct contravention of the Pakatan Rakyat Common Policy Framework. The need to fill the leadership vacuum which has been vacated by Najib is all the more pressing given the upcoming budget session in parliament, the worsening economic conditions in the country and the blatant attempts by UMNO to encourage and even organize events that raise the racial rhetoric and temperature in the country.

It would also not be fair to leave our friends and colleagues in Amanah ‘hanging’, so to speak, after making the very painful decision to leave PAS, their party of struggle for many years, and to form a new progressive Islamic party. The expectation was that Amanah would join a new opposition coalition that would provide leadership to the country in a time of need. Forming the opposition coalition at this time would give Amanah a much boost in its legitimacy and demonstrate its commitment to the opposition cause as well as confirm the commitment of the other opposition parties to its cause.

Discussions can go on endlessly without any resolutions. The fact of the matter is that the Pakatan Rakyat Common Policy Framework already established the common policy commitments of the then opposition coalition. Pakatan Harapan can adopt the same framework and tweak it as we go along in in accordance to the new political and policy challenges which we will face in the run-up to the next general election. The formation of this new opposition coalition will also allow us to present a united front in the upcoming parliamentary session including the presentation of an alternative budget, something which may not have been possible without the presence of a formal opposition coalition.

Does the formation of Pakatan Harapan means that we have answered all the arguments against new opposition coalition? I would be naïve to assume so. But it is a good first step towards the bigger and more significant fight that will come at the next general election. In the meantime, Pakatan Harapan will have to face many challenges and try to grasp the many opportunities that will come our way. That will be covered in Part 2 of my statement.

Dr. Ong Kian Ming
MP for Serdang
23rd of September 2015





在同一天,所有被反对登记的选民都是来自巴也加拉斯和龙溪州选区,这两个选区都是巫统在2013年大选时代表竞选。我在听证会上与20名选民交谈(新登记或要求更换地址的已登记选民),他们都在所登记的地址居住了至少3年,有些甚至超过10年。被举报的理由却是“查无此人”(Pemilih Tidak Dapat DiKesan)(请参阅样本附录一)。反对者没有提供额外的证据,由此可见他们确实并无下足功课,以便追查相关遭举报的选民。事实上,这些举报显然地是拥有虚假成分,因为当天在9月10日,所有与我交谈的被举报的选民最终都不成功,因此当场所有选民都被批准列入选民册。




我对选委会没有根据选举第18条例来谕令反对者赔偿被举报的选民最高可达 200令吉,以赔偿后者在时间方面的损失及所造成的不便。许多选民抛下工作时间来前往沙亚南出席听证会。有些选民是来自路途遥远的沙白安南(Sabak Bernam)和乌鲁雪兰莪(Hulu Selangor),就算得到200令吉的赔偿,很可能也无法弥补回所有的费用和时间的损失。反观选委会要求反对者在不成功后仅支付被举报的选民100令吉(请参阅附录二如下)。






Appendix 1: Objection to Leong Yung Hong using the reason “Pemilih Tidak Boleh DiKesan”

Appendix 2: Decision by the EC to ask the objector to pay the objectee RM100 only

SPR tidak seharusnya membenarkan bantahan tidak berasas terhadap penambahan pemilih ke dalam daftar pemilih

Kenyataan Media oleh Dr. Ong Kian Ming, Ahli Parlimen Serdang pada 18 September 2015

SPR tidak seharusnya membenarkan bantahan tidak berasas terhadap penambahan pemilih ke dalam daftar pemilih

Pada bulan lepas, ramai wakil DAP telah menerima aduan bahawa ramai pemilih baru dihalang daripada dimasukkan ke dalam Daftar Pemilih disebabkan bantahan daripada individu yang tidak dikenalpasti. Pengundi-pengundi tersebut diminta hadir ke pendengaran awam di Suruhanjaya Pilihan Raya Selangor, Wisma PKNS, Shah Alam. Saya turut menghadiri pendengaran tersebut pada 10 September dan saya mendapati bahawa ia tidak dapat diterima sama sekali.

Saya mendapati pemilih-pemilih yang dibantah ini berdaftar di kerusi N38 Paya Jaras dan N55 Dengkil, di mana kedua-duanya ditandingi oleh UMNO pada PRU 2013. Kesemua 20 orang pemilih (pemilih baru dan juga pemilih yang menukar alamat) yang saya temui telah menetap di alamat seperti di kad pengenalan mereka untuk sekurang-kurangnya 3 tahun, malah ada yang telah menetap di alamat tersebut lebih daripada 10 tahun. Alasan yang diberi oleh pembantah adalah “Pemilih Tidak Dapat Dikesan” (Rujuk Lampiran 1 untuk contoh). Tiada sebarang bukti lanjut diberikan untuk menunjukkan bahawa pembantah telah berusaha mengesan pemilih yang dibantah. Jelas bahawa bantahan ini tidak berasas apabila kesemua pemilih yang saya temui telah berjaya menggagalkan bantahan terhadap diri mereka, iaitu nama mereka semua diluluskan dan dimasukkan ke dalam daftar pemilih.

Walaupun hak untuk membantah kemasukan pemilih ke dalam Daftar Pemilih Tambahan diperuntukkan di bawah Seksyen 15 Peraturan-Peraturan Pilihan Raya (Pendaftaran Pemilih) 2002, peraturan ini juga menyatakan dengan jelas bahawa Pendaftar – yang biasanya merupakan ahli Suruhanjaya Pilihan Raya – mempunyai hak untuk meminta pembantah memberikan maklumat lanjut mengenai bantahan tersebut.

Malah Artikel 15(5) menyatakan: “Apabila menerima bantahan di bawah peraturan ini, Pendaftar jika berpendapat bahawa butiran yang diberikan dalam bantahan tersebut adalah tidak mencukupi, boleh meminta maklumat lanjut daripada pembantah yang hendaklah memberikan maklumat dalam 7 hari dari tarikh dia menerima tuntutan tersebut.”

SPR tidak harus membenarkan bantahan berlaku dengan hanya sedikit sahaja bukti yang dikemukakan oleh pembantah. Daripada membazirkan masa pemilih baru, SPR patut meminta lebih bukti daripada pembantah sebelum membenarkan bantahan dibawa ke fasa pendengaran awam.

Saya juga terkejut melihat SPR tidak memerintahkan pembantah membayar jumlah maksimum RM200.00 kepada pihak yang dibantah sebagai pampasan bagi kehilangan masa atau kesulitan, selaras dengan Perkara 18 peraturan tersebut. Ramai pemilih yang terlibat terpaksa mengambil cuti dan pergi ke Shah Alam bagi sesi pendengaran awam ini. Salah seorang pemilih yang bekerja di hospital awam di Kuantan terpaksa memandu ulang-alik antara Kuantan dan Shah Alam semata-mata untuk membuktikan bahawa beliau merupakan pemilih sah di N55 Dengkil. Pemilih yang datang daripada Sabak Bernam dan Hulu Selangor, yang jauh daripada Shah Alam, mungkin tidak dapat menampung kerugian yang dialami dari segi masa dan perbelanjaan walaupun pampasan maksimum RM200.00 dibayar kepada mereka. Sebaliknya, SPR hanya meminta pembantah membayar RM100.00 bagi setiap bantahan yang gagal (Rujuk Lampiran 2).

Tambahan pula, SPR gagal meminta pembantah untuk membayar pihak yang dibantah dengan serta merta. Sebaliknya, pihak yang dibantah diminta untuk mengisi maklumat mereka di atas kertas oleh pihak yang mewakili pembantah. Apabila saya bertanyakan kepada pegawai SPR yang bertugas mengapa pembantah tidak dapat membayar pihak yang dibantah dengan serta merta di tempat kejadian, beliau menjawab bahawa SPR tidak mempunyai kuasa untuk memaksa pembantah berbuat demikian. Ini adalah tidak adil kepada pihak yang dibantah kerana tiada jaminan mereka akan dibayar RM100.00 untuk kesulitan dan pembaziran masa yang dialami mereka.

Apa yang perlu dilakukan oleh SPR adalah untuk meminda denda maksimum kepada jumlah yang lebih tinggi bagi menghalang individu dan kumpulan daripada membuat bantahan palsu terhadap pemilih di kawasan masing-masing, serta menetapkan bahawa pampasan ini perlu dibayar serta merta di tempat kejadian apabila pembantah tidak dapat memberikan alasan kukuh untuk membantah kemasukan pemilih ini ke dalam daftar pemilih utama.

Adalah sukar untuk menahan spekulasi bahawa ini adalah sebahagian daripada keterdesakan UMNO untuk memenangi semula kerusi-kerusi DUN dengan membantah pengundi yang mereka rasa lebih cenderung untuk mengundi parti selain daripada BN. Ketika saya berada di pejabat SPR Selangor untuk sesi pendengaran awam, saya bertemu dengan 2 orang wakil UMNO – seorang daripada DUN Paya Jaras, seorang lagi daripada DUN Dengkil.

SPR perlu menjalankan usaha yang wajar supaya bantahan tidak berasas sebegini tidak akan berlaku lagi pada masa akan datang. Mereka boleh mengelakkan perkara ini dengan meminta bukti daripada pembantah, dan meningkatkan jumlah maksimum pampasan untuk dibayar kepada pihak yang dibantah dengan serta merta di tempat kejadian jika didapati bantahan tersebut tidak berasas.

Dr. Ong Kian Ming
Ahli Parlimen Serdang

Lampiran 1: Bantahan kepada Leong Yung Hong atas alasan “Pemilih Tidak Dapat Dikesan”

Lampiran 2: Keputusan oleh SPR untuk meminta pembantah membayar hanya RM100 kepada Orang Kena Bantah