Last night, Mustafa and I spoke at a Gerakan ‘teh tarik’ session on the outcome of the Permatang Pauh by-election and its implications.
I was surprised to see the level of interest among those who attended, including non-Gerakan members as well. Many were keen to know whether Anwar would get his 30 MPs by 16 September.
I told them I had no idea. I stressed to them the importance of institutional checks and balances. We cannot rely on a strong personality alone to bring about change. We need deeper institutional reforms – to the judiciary, police, ACA, Parliament, Election Commission and Suhakam. We also need a change in the mindset among politicians so that they really serve the rakyat and not themselves.
Towards the end of my presentation, I threw up several scenarios for Gerakan to consider.
- Remain in BN
- but it’s sinking, mired as it is in racial politics
- can it abandon racial politics and turn into a multi-racial coalition?
- just as important, can it get rid of money politics, cronyism, corruption?
- Pull out and join Pakatan Rakyat
- but do they have place for you, beyond adding another feather to the PR cap?
- merge with one of the existing PR parties
- Pull out and become an opposition party
- return to the party’s roots with a clear ideology
- become a genuine multi-ethnic party
- turn into national-level opposition party or an opposition party in Penang
- but for that to happen, it needs a leadership revamp
- and equally important, do Gerakan members have what it takes to survive in the opposition?
- and does the party think it has too much to lose in terms of being part of govt in certain states?
- The final option, which I didn’t mention last night, is just disband and allow its members to decide which parties they want to join.
That said, I do think that Penang in particular needs a multi-ethnic opposition party to serve as a check and balance. Whether Gerakan can play that role remains to be seen. But a leadership revamp is needed first.
Here’s a response from Plain Truth:
Every time it rains heavily, Georgetown floods.
Even if the petrol price at the pumps were to hit RM5.00, Penangites will still have to use their cars for want of a reliable public transport system.
18 years at the helm and KTK could not even fix such basic problems as flood mitigation and putting in place a reliable public transport network.
Instead we are hit with the disgusting land scams revelations which KTK neatly side-stepped (most of it) in his recent debate with LGE.
If the Gerakan membership do not even see fit to revamp their current leadership, it will be better for Gerakan to die a natural death – better for Penang, anyway.
After all, it is a party that has parted with the ideals of its founding fathers a long time back.
What do you think?