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Pakatan should avoid the costly mistakes of BN

I am not saying that Pakatan Harapan is going to resolve the long standing problems of numerically smaller groups in the country overnight. To expect this will be foolish.

But Indians and others who have been long marginalised by the hegemonic policies of Umno both in the political and cultural realms really do not have a choice when it comes to think about their future.

As one famous philosopher once said, you don’t make history under circumstances you choose, but when circumstances present themselves. Indians and others cannot even choose the circumstances they want, but certainly they can make “hay while the sun shines”.

Right now, Pakatan Harapan is trying to mobilise communities and groups to take on the BN in the coming general election. The odds are greatly against Pakatan but then victory will be much more meaningful when battles are won under difficult circumstances.

I think forming the coalition between the four main component parties was a Herculean task, but the difficulty was surmounted not so much by the ability of the leadership as such but by the blunders committed by the BN regime.

The plunder of the countries through various schemes and projects such as 1MDB financial scandal fiasco remains a major eye opener for Malaysia eager for political transformation.

Pakatan is not a completely multi-racial or multi-religious coalition in the sense that its partners have eschewed religious or ethnic labels.

The presence of PPBM and Parti Amanah Negara will indicate that these two parties are anything but multi-racial in terms of their composition.

However, the more presence of ethnic or religious parties does not mean that the concept of multi-racialism needs to be abandoned. Plurality must be maintained at all costs to reflect diversity.

This is precisely the reason why Pakatan must taken into account the everyday realities of the social, ethnic and religious composition of the country. You can’t win the battle for an eventual war against BN if differences are not recognised and appreciated.

We are told that the relationship between the component parties in Pakatan will not be like the lopsided relationship that exists in the BN where despite the composition of 14 political parties, unfortunately they are all beholden to Umno.

In other words, it is Umno that enjoys preponderant power in BN and it is Umno that calls the shots.

This would explain why other other component parties are in such a pitiful position to the point where they have surrendered the interests of their respective ethnic communities to Umno.

Surely, right minded Malaysians would not want a repeat of the same situation when and if Pakatan takes federal power.

It is essential that Pakatan is not allowed to repeat the costly mistakes of Umno and BN. The relationship between the various component parties in Pakatan should be on the basis of equality, mutual respect and dignity.

The biggest challenge for Pakatan is to ensure that this equality and respect prevails all the time and to impress upon Malaysians the fundamental differences between Pakatan and BN.

In facing the coming general election, Pakatan must not run away from the mistakes but face them squarely to install confidence in all Malaysians.

Prof P Ramasamy
DAP Deputy Secretary-General and Deputy Chief Minister of Penang
Media statement by Prof P Ramasamy in Penang on Wednesday, 13th September 2017