Any collaboration between PH and UMNO before and during the next general election must be based on policies, or both PH and UMNO may be punished by voters for a drastic realignment.
While PH and UMNO must ready their base for a coalition government after GE15 if circumstances necessitate, a radical realignment in a naked pursuit of power and positions may only invite voters’ wrath. If reformist voters see a PH-UMNO pact as a marriage of convenience, they can simply punish PH by abstention in GE15. A low turnout can easily cause PH defeats in expected multicorners in many marginal constituencies, leaving PH with so few seats that it may only qualify to be a junior partner in the next government or simply be consigned to the opposition.
I am deeply worried and frustrated that PH’s image is increasingly defined by some unrealisable number. PH should stand for a realistic hope for a better future, not a wishful thinking for a short-term turn-around.
PH must remember the danger captured by the Malay proverb, “Yang dikejar tak dapat, yang dikendong berciciran” (missing what is pursued and losing what is already secured).
PH leaders must recognise two facts. First, for 13 months after the Sheraton Move, PH has failed to present a comprehensive set of policies even when Muhyiddin’s Government has chaotic, haphazard and shortsighted policies amidst a pandemic and a global recession. This cannot be blamed on Muhyiddin or Mahathir. Second, if automatic voter registration and UNDI18 are implemented by July 2021 as planned, eight million new voters will join the electorate and many of them would be unforgiving to parties and politicians too indulgent in pursuit of power and positions than policies.
What PH Plus immediately needs now is the preparation of a realistic manifesto with policy positions that capture the imagination of its voters and are acceptable to potential government partners. Collaboration with UMNO must be considered in this wider scheme of policy formulation and positioning.
Voters will not trust PH if the next manifesto is again a work in air-conditioned rooms without candid debates and serious deliberation between grassroots of its various component parties. Voters will feel betrayed by the second time if promises are made and later thrown out completely in the face of government partners’ objections.
Let’s prepare for GE15 by getting serious about policies.
I urge PH leaders and grassroots who share the same concern to speak out to make PH stronger.