02 July, 2009

Pakatan Rakyat tackles new crisis of confidence

Pakatan Rakyat alliance is hit by yet another crisis of confidence. One of its components, the Democratic Action Party (DAP), has threatened to pull out of the alliance in Kedah, worsening their already fragile and uneasy alliance in the Pakatan Rakyat.

The latest fallout was sparked by the demolition of the state's only pig abattoir – a decision by the state government, led by the conservative Islamic party, Pas.

Barely a week after they met to contain the fallout over talks to form a unity government between PAS and the ruling UMNO party, the leaders are once again at loggerheads.

Chinese-dominated DAP is upset over the demolition of the pig abattoir and a 50 per cent quota for ethnic Malays or bumiputra to get state housing.

Lim Kit Siang, leader of DAP, said: "I'm, of course, shocked by the latest development which is no less than a second crisis of confidence faced by Pakatan Rakyat. We resolved the first crisis of confidence, but now we are faced with a second one and the question is whether Pakatan can resolve it."

Opposition parliamentary chief Anwar Ibrahim has downplayed the rift, highlighting the common agenda shared by all three parties despite their clear ideological difference.

"I don't think Pakatan is going to crumble over a pig farm. In Pakatan, there are issues which we need to discuss and resolve, but they won't jeopardise our big agenda – rule of law," said Anwar.

The state government's earlier decision to have a 50% bumiputera housing quota was also a sore point.

This was what the partners said:

> DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, who is also Penang chief minister
"I would normally oppose such moves personally, especially when based on a single issue and IF there is still room to redress and correct the situation. However, the desperate nature of the situation and the breakdown of trust between Kedah DAP and the Kedah PAS menteri besar warrants a central executive committee meeting to endorse or oppose this withdrawal.

"Pulling out of PR is a serious matter with large adverse national ramifications. For Kedah DAP to do so from the Kedah government, signals the complete lack of communication and respect from the PAS-led state government.

"Kedah DAP has never sought any titles or Datukships but has been unhappy with the lack of respect accorded by PAS to DAP in Kedah, unlike the respect accorded to PAS in Penang."

> DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang
He said he was "shocked and surprised" by the latest development in Kedah, which he described as the "second crisis of confidence" for the Pakatan Rakyat coalition. He plans to visit Kedah on Saturday to speak to the DAP members there to understand the issue better.

(Lim had first spoken of a crisis of confidence following the PAS pursuit of unity talks with Umno.)

> Kedah mentri besar and PAS state commissioner Datuk Seri Azizan Abdul Razak
Describes the state DAP action as overruling the decisions of the party's top leadership.

The political scenario in Kedah is not the same as in other states as the local culture and issues are different.

"I don't understand what the DAP wants. The DAP always says that everyone must respect the law but at the same time the DAP tries to protect people who break the law."

If the DAP is not interested in being part of the state government, it is for the apex leadership of the party to decide.

> PKR's Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim
I have heard views from both the state government and the Kedah DAP representative. The issue is "a small matter".

I believe the issue can be solved amicably within the Pakatan Rakyat.

> PKR information chief Tian Chua
Denied that the coalition is facing another crisis of confidence.

"The latest development shows that PR is a coalition that practises the freedom of speech and it is a healthy sign for the coalition, but it is important now for PR to reach consensus to strengthen its machinery as well as to correct the impression of the people on PR."

Barisan Nasional is meanwhile scoring political points from the PR problems in Kedah

> MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat:
It is obvious the (PR) alliance was formed for the general election and not to serve the people.

"Right from the start, PR has already started to show signs of 'cracks' and these recent turmoil is a real acid test for them."

> Information Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim
This is proof that the opposition pact is merely a marriage of convenience, The incident had once again brought to the fore the differences among the Pakatan members and proven their inability at nation-building.

"I believe the DAP withdrawal is an indication that the pact will not be permanent because the basis of their (the parties') struggles varies. The DAP joined the Pakatan in Kedah because it wanted power. Kedah PAS can judge from the incident that the DAP is not an ally for nation-building."



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